Speech by Federal Minister Müller at the Opening Session of the Board of Governors at the 49th ADB Annual Meeting

in Frankfurt, Germany, 03.05.2016

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Professor Köhler,
President Nakao,
Ladies and gentlemen,

We all live in One World. Thus, it is our shared task to eradicate poverty, not destroy the environment, and protect the world's climate, water, land and oceans. We only have this one planet. These are crucial issues for the survival of humankind. We are all in the same boat.

Asia today accounts for more than half of the world's population, but also for more than half of the world's poor and more than half of the world's greenhouse gas emissions. Not only the fact that Asia is growing but, above all, the way that Asia is growing will have a decisive influence on our planet over the coming decades. We – Germany, Europe, the industrialized countries, we who are engaged in mutual trade and exchange – have to reach completely new dimensions of making growth socially, environmentally, economically and culturally sustainable.

We are not the ones who know it all – we learn from each other, and we want to be partners. And we now have to send a signal for a paradigm shift toward a globally sustainable econ­omy. In India, for example, we are working with ADB to provide loans for Green Energy Corridors. This is energy that lifts people out of poverty, rather than creating new poverty by destroying people's livelihoods.

Or if we look at the question of opportunities, we are supporting twelve Asian countries in the field of vocational education. Our plan is to combine large-scale ADB financing projects with vocational training in future, because training is the basis for any kind of future development.

Take the topic of standards – prompted by us, ADB has established a credit line in Bangla­desh for textile companies. This enables them to invest in safety and environmental protec­tion. The idea is to reduce the use of toxic substances, improve working conditions and give workers more rights.

For almost exactly fifty years, the Asian Development Bank has been an indispensable part­ner for us. However, the challenges have not become any smaller. The infrastructure gap alone is estimated to require some 800 billion US dollars a year. And the vital two-degree target we adopted in Paris can only be achieved with Asia on board. So it is good that ADB is planning to double its climate investments by 2020.

More than ever before, we need a strong and innovative Asian Development Bank. And we need strategies that are harmonized with the new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank – we need to work together, not alongside each other or against each other!

But above all, more private capital must be channeled into sustainable development. How can we do that? This is the key question at this Annual Meeting. Yesterday, we provided some answers to this question. For instance, we want to lay the foundations for a new financing and insurance instrument in Asia – a climate fund.

The entire financial industry needs to take on more environmental and social responsibility, so that we manage to make the transition to a zero carbon economy and ensure that it is not the poorest who pay the price of globalization.

Policymakers, in their turn, must make a systematic effort to get banks to take these issues on board. For instance, we want the ILO core labor standards to be made a binding part of the lending rules of multilateral development banks – from the World Bank to ADB, which is already leading the way. This would lend massive momentum to socially responsible invest­ment. And in the long term it would set the standard for all. Mr. Jin, we are looking forward to working together with the new AIIB. There are more than enough things that need financing.

We need a competition of ideas to achieve a future that has to look different from the present. For example, new cities must not be built in the same way as before. Otherwise, the production of cement and steel alone will almost exhaust the carbon budget that would enable us to reach the 1.5 degree target by 2050.

We need innovation – leapfrog innovation. Those who are currently in the process of de­velopment have the great opportunity to do things better from the outset, better than we did in the past.

It is perhaps the greatest challenge for humankind to reconcile the previously opposing aims of development and sustainability. The 2030 Agenda, our pact on the future of our planet, will provide the framework for that. And nobody has been as closely connected to that agenda as our former German President, Professor Köhler. We look forward to your keynote address!

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