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New report says innovation needed to improve water infrastructure in the Mekong Region

The public sector should consider new and alternative financing tools and technologies to support water infrastructure development in the Mekong region, according to a new joint report by the OECD Development Centre, the Asian Development Bank Institute and the Mekong Institute.

Innovation for Water Infrastructure Development in the Mekong Region highlights the importance of novel approaches to further develop water infrastructure as a response to the socioeconomic and environmental challenges in the Mekong river basin.

Speaking during an online seminar on Water Infrastructure Development in the Mekong Region today, experts emphasised the need to explore alternative approaches to infrastructure financing, such as crowdfunding and tokenisation using digital technologies, in support of public funding. However, they also pointed out that enabling policies and institutional frameworks should be put in place to support financial technology growth among Mekong countries.

The report encourages policymakers to address emerging issues on water and wastewater services in the region, including by improving local regulations and supporting efforts to build infrastructure for safe and reliable water supply to the public. The COVID-19 outbreak demonstrated the importance of robust water sources for controlling the spread of the disease and promoting good hygiene and sanitation. The report also identifies nature-based solutions to enhancing the resilience of communities against natural disasters and other hazards. Feasible innovations include the use of digital tools to enable early warning systems.

The private sector has a crucial role to play in supporting such water infrastructure development. Long-term investors, such as insurance corporations and pension funds, can help finance improvements in water supply, sanitation, and inland water transport. Spillover tax revenues can strengthen private sector involvement in these initiatives.

Lastly, the report underscores the need for strong domestic policies and regional cooperation, since many of the key threats and issues faced by the river basin are transboundary by nature.

Click here to read Innovation for Water Infrastructure Development in the Mekong Region online

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