The Himalayan Consensus as an economic paradigm is keen to explore innovation and emergence of new institutions that provides financial capital and access to finance. In this session speakers working in diverse areas related to the financial architecture ideated on the new architecture that will provide the engine of growth to accelerate the pace of economic development in the region. The session was moderated by Del Christensen—Chief of Global Business Development for the Bay Area Council (US).
The session focused on how traditionally, development, post-disaster financing for reconstruction and large infrastructure development used to a public sector domain, and that trend is now changing rapidly with private capital ready and available to such financing challenges.
Eckart Roth, Chief Risk Officer at Peak Re- Hong Kong, stated that dependence on government funds for post-disaster financing puts a great strain upon government budgets—which would otherwise be channeled into sectors like building large scale infrastructure projects—for many years together. Therefore, private capital has to been as a viable alternative to such financing challenges.
Renaud Meyer, Country Director of the UNDP in Nepal, talked about how Official Development Assistance (ODA) is declining, and the imperative to rope in the private sector productively into the realm of development. He highlighted that most of Nepal’s remittance income gets spent on consumption and if there was an incentive structure that could help re-inject these funds into development programs, the impact of it would be much more far-reaching. Talking about disaster management and response, Renaud pinned the importance of pre-investing into building resilience and that the cost of prevention is much lower than the price tag of reconstruction.
Sashin Joshi, Chief Executive Officer of Nabil Bank, maintained that unless there is enough investments made into infrastructure development, living standards in the region cannot be lifted significantly. To do so, the private sector has to be proactively engaged in infrastructure development. However, there are certain pre-requisites to it, such as strong rule of law, which is where Nepal lags behind.
Tim Gocher, Founder and CEO of Dolma Impact Fund – Nepal, presented the idea of the Himalayan region as an ecological and financial asset which could be harnessed sustainably to benefit the hundreds of millions of lives that depend upon it. Building upon the point, he further stated that renewable energy is the comparative advantage of the Himalayan region.
Concurring to earlier speakers’ point, Tim also talked about the importance of focusing on infrastructure development for lifting the living standards of the people in the region and that in order to attract private equity and capital to such infrastructure projects, there needs to be a level playing field across grants, development finance, equity funds, and private sector.
The session, which brought together panelists of diverse portfolios, albeit all of whom have significant roles in engineering the new financial architecture for the Himalayan region, contributed significantly towards prodding the financial side of the discourse on Himalayan Consensus and the new paradigm forward.