World leaders at the G20 summit have endorsed a US $15 million global infrastructure hub based in Sydney in support of the Global Infrastructure Initiative to lift the quality of public and private infrastructure investment around the world.
Funded by eight countries including Australia, the hub will have a four-year mandate to contribute to developing a knowledge-sharing platform and network between governments, the private sector, development banks and other international organisations.
“The Hub will foster collaboration among these groups to improve the functioning and financing of infrastructure markets,” the G20 Leaders’ Communique said.
Its four year limit will avoid the creation of a permanent institution that could overlap with the World Bank.
According to Urban Taskforce CEO Chris Johnson, the endorsement of Sydney could lead to extensive offshore opportunities for local infrastructure developers across Asia.
“With India planning 100 smart cities and China continuing to improve infrastructure, there will be great opportunities to involve these countries in World’s Best Practice on getting the balance right between the roles of government and the private sector in the provision of infrastructure,” said Johnson.
“The rising middle class in Asia is leading to a major focus on new railways, metros, light rail, highways and major mixed use urban projects. Already many Australian companies are involved in very large infrastructure projects across Asia and other parts of the world.
“Some of our largest companies like Lend Lease, Brookfield Multiplex, Leighton Properties and Goodman are already leaders in their field in countries outside Australia.”
Johnson adds that there is increased work potential for consultants such as project managers, planners, engineers and architects:
“Many of these disciplines are already operating off shore and the new Global Infrastructure Hub in Sydney can be of great assistance in connecting these consultants to new markets.”
Sydney is expected to benefit vastly from the hub, with a flow of international experts to contribute their knowledge to the infrastructure projects proposed in Australia, particularly in New South Wales (NSW).
The B20, a business forum that produces policy recommendations for the G20, has claimed that resulting improvements in project preparation, structuring and delivery will add $2 trillion in infrastructure capacity by 2030.
“As the NSW Government ramps up its expenditure on infrastructure with the potential sale of the electricity poles and wires, Sydney and the state will benefit from the world’s best infrastructure brains,” observed Johnson.
“The Bays Precinct Summit this week demonstrates the enormous interest around the world in the many proposed large development precincts that are planned for Sydney. The alignment of the G20 with the keenness of the Australian and NSW Governments to focus on infrastructure has led to Sydney now having a world leading role in infrastructure as the home of the Global Infrastructure Hub.”
The Hub has been ordered to begin operations as soon as possible, with G20 leaders wanting it to come up with an initial set of deliverables for the Global Infrastructure Initiative by the next G20 Summit in late 2015.