The US Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), and Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) launched on November 4 Blue Dot Network—an initiative that brings together governments, the private sector, and civil society to promote trusted standards for global infrastructure development in an open framework.
Blue Dot Network will evaluate and certify nominated infrastructure projects based upon adherence to commonly accepted principles and standards to promote market-driven, transparent, and financially sustainable infrastructure development in the Indo-Pacific region and around the world.
The initiative is seen in part as an attempt to counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which has come under criticism in recent years due to concerns over financial and environmental sustainability.
The initiative was announced by OPIC’s David Bohigian at the Indo-Pacific Business Forum in Bangkok, Thailand. Details of Blue Dot Network were unveiled during a panel discussion that included Bohigian, US Department of State Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Keith Krach, DFAT Deputy Secretary Richard Maude, and JBIC Governor Tadashi Maeda.
“The development of critical infrastructure—when it is led by the private sector and supported on terms that are transparent, sustainable, and socially and environmentally responsible—is foundational to widespread economic empowerment,” says Bohigian.
“This endorsement of Blue Dot Network not only creates a solid foundation for infrastructure global trust standards but reinforces the need for the establishment of umbrella global trust standards in other sectors, including digital, mining, financial services, and research,” says Krach. “Such global trust standards, which are based on respect for transparency and accountability, sovereignty of property and resources, local labour and human rights, rule of law, the environment, and sound governance practices in procurement and financing, have been driven not just by private sector companies and civil society but also by governments around the world.”
“Australia is committed to promoting high-quality infrastructure, inclusive approaches, and facilitating private sector investment in the Indo-Pacific region,” says Maude.
Blue Dot Network will support the goals of East Asia Summit Leaders and build upon common principles of project excellence agreed to as part of the G20 Buenos Aires Call to Action, G20 Osaka Summit Principles for Promoting Quality Infrastructure Investment, discussions around the G7 Charlevoix Commitment, and the Equator Principles.
The initiative complements efforts by OPIC, DFAT, and JBIC to strengthen development finance cooperation in support of principles-based infrastructure and sustainable economic growth, both in the projects they support individually and through their Trilateral Infrastructure Partnership.
US government coordination of Blue Dot Network will initially be led by OPIC, in close coordination with other agencies and departments. Blue Dot Network participants will form a steering committee to further refine the initiative and its global infrastructure standards, and invite partners representing sovereign governments, economies, the private sector, and civil society to join the effort and support the development of the initiative’s permanent governing structure and processes.