Event: From African mega dams to German motorways, 13 December – Berlin

Global Investment in Infrastructure: Who Benefits? Who Pays? Who owns?

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Date:
Tuesday, December 13, 2016 – 18:0020:00

Event city: 
Address:

Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung – Bundesstiftung Berlin
Schumannstr. 8
10117
Berlin

Agenda

1. Presentations

  • Nancy Alexander, Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung, Director Economic Governance Program, Washington DC
    Reflections on the global infrastructure agenda and role of G20 (origins and perspectives)
  • Xavier Sol, Counter Balance
    The race to megaprojects and new financial mechanisms in Europe
  • Jana Mattert, Gemeingut in BürgerInnenhand
    Public-Private Partnerships and infrastructure companies – The German Agenda

2. Panel Discussion and Q&A session

Two respondants will react to the presentations and kick-off the discussion:

  • Uwe Wötzel, Vereinte Dienstleistungsgewerkschaft (ver.di, German Trade Union)
  • Sven Christian Kindler, Member of German Bundestag, Budget Committee, Alliance 90/The Greens

Followed by a Q&A session moderated by Malte Kreutzfeldt (taz), and concluding remarks from the panel.

On December 1st, Germany takes over the presidency of the Group of 20 (G20). Since the world is stuck in a low trade, investment, and growth trap, the G20 argues that a high level of infrastructure investment is necessary to boost economic recovery. The G20´s consensus emphasizes the use of public money (e.g., pensions, taxes, user fees, aid) to attract long-term institutional investors (e.g., pension and insurance funds, sovereign wealth funds) in order to scale up infrastructure development from billions to trillions of dollars. In each region of the world, countries are designing infrastructure master plans and filling “pipelines” with bankable projects for this purpose (especially in the form of Public Private Partnerships – PPPs).

In 2016, the G20 launched the Global Infrastructure Connectivity Alliance which would strengthen and link the master plans, such as the Juncker Plan in Europe or the Program for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA). The German G20 Presidency is expected to forge investment compacts with African nations, particularly to finance large-scale infrastructure projects. The major national, regional and multilateral development banks (including the recently created New Development Bank and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank) – all controlled by G20 member nations – are financing four infrastructure sectors – energy, transportation, water, and information and communications technology (ICT). Investment in these sectors are creating mega-corridors through sub-regions and between continents which are intended to facilitate trade and create jobs.

In Germany, a general toll for the up to now free and public motorways seems imminent. In order to scale up investments in infrastructure in the transport sector the German government is promoting the creation of an infrastructure company under private law to centralise motorway projects and attract private investments. For the first time, this would include investments from private insurance companies on a bigger scale. While this might –in the short term- look good in terms of public debt, it would require a change in the constitution. And it could thus pave the way for a broader privatisation of motorways, which is why the project is contested.

Infrastructure financing raises a wide set of issues relating to the environment, justice, development, and financial prospects. The hopes for progress in line with climate requirements via infrastructure investments are represented by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the members of the United Nations in 2015. At the same time, the negative impacts of large-scale infrastructure development are well documented (from dams and mines, to oil and gas, roads and ports). Therefore it is crucial to assess who benefits and who pays for infrastructure development. And, who eventually owns them.

A panel of experts will discuss the key elements of the global consensus on infrastructure investment as well as the drivers and implications of the consensus (e.g., affordability of infrastructure services; carbon intensity; fiscal impacts). Participants will explore the context of and linkages among the German, European and international infrastructure plans. They will also identify challenges raised by the consensus and proposals for civil society to address them.

For more information, please contact:

Xavier Sol
Counter Balance (Brussels)
Xavier.sol@counter-balance.org

Joanna Barelkowska
Program manager, International Politics
Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung
E Joanna.Barelkowska@boell.de

 

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