New Development Bank prioritises ‘sustainable’ infra

The BRICS-focused lender breaks the mould of traditional multilaterals with radical five-year plan.

The New Development Bank, formerly known as the BRICS Development Bank, said it will commit two-thirds of its future financings to “sustainable infrastructure development” over the next five years. 

The Shanghai-headquartered multilateral said sustainable infrastructure – such as renewables, water projects and urban development – will be the primary focus of the bank’s operations from 2017 to 2021. 

The lender said it could best achieve the goals “not by attempting to copy the universal style of traditional multilateral development banks, but rather by focusing… energy and finance on a group of sectors that is more limited in scope”.

The NDB exceeded its new target in 2016, with about 78 percent of its $1.56 billion approved financing dedicated to the specific category of projects, according to a document on its website. It added that almost all of these projects are renewable energy schemes.   

The bank is looking to lend $2.5 billion in 2017 and $4 billion in 2018. By 2021, the bank is expected to have approved total loans of at least $32 billion, the document said. 

The lender sees the prospects for BRICS countries as generally encouraging, an analysis not universally shared globally. “Russia and Brazil, who were in negative growth territory in 2016, are expected to turn to positive growth in 2017 and 2018. In South Africa, economic growth is projected to rebound in 2017 and strengthen further in 2018. India’s and China’s economies are growing at high rates and are projected to continue to deliver robust growth,” said the NDB.

The bank is expected to fund its operations through regular bond issuances in member countries and international capital markets.