Good news from the Asian Development Bank's annual meetings in Baku, Azerbaijan this past weekend, where shareholders approved a plan to almost double the amount of financing available to developing countries. Bank president Takehiko Nakao's proposal to merge the ADB's concessional and non-concessional lending was nearly two years in the making. His persistence - and that of his team - shows that creative thinking and a bold approach to engaging with shareholders can yield big gains for development. In this case, the amount of ADB financing available to developing countries will increase from $23 billion to $40 billion a year.
CGD colleagues Nancy Birdsall, Enrique Rueda-Sabater, and I had the privilege of providing an independent assessment of the ADB proposal last summer. At the time, we concluded that the proposal was highly credible and shareholders should move expeditiously to approve it. So it is gratifying that approval was achieved in a matter of months.
More importantly, we urged swift approval because we saw the ADB financial reforms as just the first step toward a more flexible and innovative institution, one that is even better positioned to play a central role in meeting the region's development needs. And it sends a signal to other multilateral development banks that change is not only good but achievable.
With all of the drama and attention surrounding the establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in recent months, the opportunities presented by the ADB reforms may not get the attention they deserve. That's why we are releasing a new essay exploring the ways in which the ADB's financial merger introduces new possibilities for the institution in the years ahead.
So along with our hearty congratulations to the ADB and its shareholders for the important milestone achieved in Baku, we urge them not to rest on their laurels but to move forward by fully exploiting the opportunities now made available by the merger.