At a summit of the world’s top economic nations (G20) in Seoul, Korea, in 2010, it was recognized that the 2008 financial crisis disproportionately affected the most vulnerable in the poorest countries in the world. The crisis was interfering with the G20’s goals of fostering growth and eradicating poverty and hunger, reducing child mortality rates, and developing a global partnership for development in areas like Sub-Saharan Africa.
The G20 realized that infrastructure development was fundamental to achieving growth in these areas. The organization struck up a High-Level Panel on Infrastructure Development to recommend steps to increase investment from public, semi-public and private sources.
PAUL DOUGLAS: THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY'S VOICE ON INTERNATIONAL PANEL
Paul Douglas, PCL president and CEO, was appointed to be a member of the High Level Panel by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Douglas was the only individual with a construction background and the only non-financial representative appointed to the panel.
His role was to take part in the drafting and review of the report and provide PCL’s leadership in the procurement of public-private partnership for infrastructure in Canada, the United States, and Australia, and make it relevant for developing countries.
He considered this invitation to be a tremendous honor, to represent his country and the construction industry.
“Over our more than 100 years as builders, we have played a large role in the infrastructural and economic growth of many cities and jurisdictions across North America. We’ve seen the results when jurisdictions invest in infrastructure—growth and development occur and economies expand. We had much to share at the table.”
The key message from the panel was that more investment is required, better quality assets are needed, and the environment has to be a consideration in the projects that go forward.
Emerging countries are driving the world economy. There is a vast untapped potential for world economic growth. The problem is not one of shortage of money, rather, one of how to attract available money to investment in African infrastructure projects.
The world is paying attention to the problem and beginning to take action. The scope is immense, and being the contractor voice on this international panel speaks well of the construction industry and may lead to opportunities to take part in the development of the continent.