SINGAPORE (Oct 2): Sustainable infrastructure development practices are needed to overcome Singapore’s existential threats of global warming and rising sea levels, says Indranee Rajah, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office.

Speaking at the inaugural Asia Infrastructure Forum on Wednesday, Indranee, who is also second minister for finance and education, noted that “infrastructure built should not contribute further to climate change” through deforestation, ecological damage and carbon emissions.

For this to happen, she said Asia needed “green infrastructure” focusing on better management of energy, water and land. The infrastructure will incorporate innovative solutions and technology, along with building materials which are responsibly sourced and durable.

These green developments should also become “more resilient in times of disruption” as they factor in social, financial, economic and environmental concerns. As it is, Asia’s infrastructure investments through 2040 is expected to total some US$51 trillion ($70.7 trillion), according to data from Global Infrastructure Hub.

Meanwhile, Singapore will help to bridge a “green financing gap” for the ASEAN region from 2016 to 2030, says Indranee. The United Nations’ Environment Programme and DBS Bank have estimated this to be around US$160 billion.

Among the measures taken, Infrastructure Asia (IA) plans to standardise half of the terms in project finance documents. This is to shorten the timescale for project development and improve transparency in procurement and contracting processes.

IA, which is a government agency under Enterprise Singapore (ESG), had decided on the 50% proportion to cover the clauses that are applicable across infrastructure projects, irrespective of the country and type of project being undertaken.

IA will also design a programme with the World Bank to help governments and companies build capabilities needed to design and implement projects.

IA Chairman Png Cheong Boon also spoke at the forum, noting that the year-old organisation is working with regional governments to understand their infrastructure needs and assist them to overcoming them through capability-building schemes and facilitating partnerships among global players.

Png, who is also the CEO of ESG, says IA has made progress through its involvement in infrastructure projects in countries such as Bangladesh and Cambodia. He adds that the agency is looking to “strengthen its partnership with regional governments and increase its capacity building programmes to support their needs”.

To this end, IA signed two Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) – one with Indonesia’s PT Sarana Multi Infrastruktur and the other with Philippines PPP Centre – to support the infrastructure projects in the two countries.

With infrastructure being seen as the growth engine for Asia’s growth, there is a need for more of such government-to-government collaborations.

Ultimately, more infrastructure projects can only be implemented if there is a “connection in the supply and demand for infrastructure projects, to help structure them and make them more bankable,” notes Png.