Minister Kono,

Executive Director and Under Secretary-General Faremo,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

May I begin by thanking the Japanese Government and the United Nations Office for Project Services for co-hosting with us this important discussion on quality infrastructure investment.

This fundamental concept has long been anchored in the European Union's approach to infrastructure development across the board.

And as you may know, the Japanese Government brought this issue to international attention at the 2016 G7 Summit in Ise-Shima. The five principles agreed there by world leaders have become the global standard for quality infrastructure investment.

No country has ever developed without well-functioning infrastructure. But in order to be a driver – and not a bottleneck – to truly sustainable development, we must maintain the focus on the quality of infrastructure, particularly in the face of increasing demands for quantity.

Because a chain is only as strong as its weakest part. The higher the quality, the better every link can withstand increasing pressure.

Our partner countries and regions are facing enormous infrastructure needs. Africa alone needs over 90 billion euros a year.

And as recent events have shown us, an important part of infrastructure investment today is reconstruction following natural or man-made disasters.

At the third World Recovery Conference this June, the European Union, United Nations and World Bank brought together 800 experts to discuss precisely how to "build back better" and make societies more resilient.

Quality is just as important to those looking to invest as it is to those looking for investment.

So ensuring the right business conditions and portfolio of projects is just as important as financial incentives - to get the necessary private investment flowing. This is precisely what our new European External Investment Plan seeks to achieve.

The use of innovative financing mechanisms like this - which combines grants with public and private finance – is one of four key areas in which I believe we can enhance quality investment.

Secondly, to ensure infrastructure is truly sustainable and leaves no-one behind, strategic sectoral priorities must be reflected in the preparation and prioritising of projects at all levels. This includes environmental, conflict, social and gender-related considerations.

Thirdly, we need to ensure better "value for money" at the implementation phase through greater efficiency. This means smart project delivery methods – including public-private partnerships, performance-based contracting, and "greener" procurement processes.

And finally, we must ensure good sectoral governance, with the right policy, strategy, regulatory and legislative frameworks, and with capable people and institutions.

Take the example of a recently rebuilt road in Rwanda, which increased the safety, reliability and affordability of local transport services.

Now imagine the farmer who benefitted from increased market opportunities. And the sustainable jobs created for other local workers in regular road maintenance.

Environmental sustainability was also mainstreamed through a climate-resilient design able to withstand the rainy season.

This is just one successful example from our European Union delegations on the ground.

If we really want to make a difference - not only on Goal 9, but on all the Sustainable Development Goals - quality infrastructure investment must remain high on the global and national agendas.

The European Union is committed to playing its part.

But in order to succeed we need all partners to reaffirm their commitment to safe, sustainable and resilient quality infrastructure which helps to ensure the peace and prosperity for all our people and our planet.

Thank you for your attention.

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