Channeling private sector participation to optimise results: Q&A with Ingrid van Wees

Channeling private sector participation to optimise results: Q&A with Ingrid van Wees

17 December 2021

Ingrid van Wees joined the IFFIm board on 1 October 2021. She is currently the Vice President for Finance and Risk Management of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), based in Manila, the Philippines.

Ingrid van Wees joined the IFFIm board on 1 October 2021. She is currently the Vice President for Finance and Risk Management of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), based in Manila, the Philippines. She moved to development banking after a career in the private sector with leading international companies in infrastructure and consumer goods from 1992 to 2004. Ms van Wees is a Dutch citizen.

Tell us about your life. What experiences and people shaped you as a person and influenced your career?

I was born in the sixties when my parents were dancing to the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Raised in the Netherlands, I went to study in France after a few years of work and graduating as an engineer. My passion has always been developing countries, and I have spent most of my life working in and with these countries.

The person I have always admired was my grandmother. I remember her as a charismatic and articulate woman. She travelled to Paris by herself at a young age, only married in her early thirties in order to obtain an education and earned her own living. Hers was a very unusual path for a woman born in 1906 and an inspiration to me.

Before joining ADB, you worked in the private sector and then at DEG, the German Development Finance Institution, a subsidiary of KfW Development Bank. How do you think the private sector can be better engaged to help finance development?

Private sector participation, like water, can be channeled to optimise results. Conducive regulatory (and monetary) policy incentives, which aim to reduce investment hurdles such as technology and credit risk, attract private sector investments. The development of wind and solar energy technology, for example, were fostered in Germany through subsidized tariffs and capital investment. In 2020, the U.S. fast tracked the development of COVID-19 vaccines by eliminating an investment constraint, financial capital, to promote innovation. Equally harmful policies can promote private sector business in undesired areas, providing a need to remove and amend these to achieve a sustainable economy.

The pandemic has given rise to greater interest in vaccine bonds as a model. What opportunities do you see for IFFIm in 2022 and beyond?

Thematic bonds, such as vaccine, gender, education and blue bonds, focused on environmental and social themes have been increasingly popular. Demand is driven by an increasingly diversified and global investor base looking to contribute. This diversification is enlarging the funding pool available for the kind of assistance provided by IFFIm.

Having demonstrated the interest in vaccine bonds, IFFIm could work with Gavi transitioning countries to develop a sovereign vaccine bond program with dedicated usage of proceeds, ensuring future funding, like green bonds.

You are based in the Philippines. How do you think IFFIm could broaden its network in Asia?

Funding of IFFIm is currently dominated by European countries and the United Kingdom. The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the visibility of Gavi, underscored and priced the impact of vaccination and highlighted the importance of coordinated acquisition. This heightened awareness might prove a fertile ground for expanding the donor base.