Creating Investable Cities

Overview of Investable Cities

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) launched a new initiative called ‘The Creating Investable Cities’ in 2022. This initiative aims to provide direct advisory support to cities across Asia and the Pacific, helping them achieve their climate resilience goals and improve their infrastructure and urban services.

Investable cities are the key to economic growth and development in the modern world. These cities are not only attractive to domestic and foreign investors but also offer a high quality of life for their residents. They are well-planned urban centers with advanced infrastructure systems, efficient governance structures, and a focus on sustainability.

One of the major challenges that investable cities aim to address is the huge infrastructure gap that exists in many countries. These cities prioritize the development of their urban infrastructure, including transportation networks, electricity grids, and water supply systems. By investing in these essential services, investable cities ensure that their residents have access to basic amenities and enjoy a comfortable living environment.

Moreover, such cities are mindful of the impacts of climate change and are at the forefront of the fight against it. These cities recognize the importance of building climate resilience and actively seek climate finance and engage in public-private partnerships to fund projects that contribute to a greener future.

To attract private sector finance and operations, these cities offer attractive investment opportunities. They provide a conducive business environment, favorable regulatory frameworks, and ample support for capacity-building resources. Investable cities recognize the key role played by the private sector in driving economic growth and job creation, and they actively seek to foster partnerships and collaborations.


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Understanding the Global Infrastructure Gap

The global infrastructure gap refers to the shortfall in funding and investment needed to build, maintain, and upgrade vital infrastructure systems such as transportation networks, energy grids, water supply systems, and telecommunications. This gap is particularly pronounced in developing countries where rapid population growth and urbanization are placing immense strain on already strained infrastructure systems.

One of the key drivers of the global infrastructure gap is the sheer magnitude of investment required to meet the growing demand. According to estimates by the Global Infrastructure Outlook, the world needs an additional $94 trillion in infrastructure investment 2040 to keep up with global development needs. According to the World Bank report 2022, it is estimated that India will need to invest $840 billion over the next 15 years, or an average of $55 billion per year, into urban infrastructure in order to effectively meet the needs of its rapidly growing urban population. However, traditional sources of funding, such as government budgets and official development assistance, are often insufficient to bridge the gap.

Moreover, the nature of infrastructure projects often makes them financially unattractive to private investors. Infrastructure projects tend to have long gestation periods, high upfront capital costs, and uncertain profitability timelines, making them less appealing than more short-term and less risky investment opportunities. This further exacerbates the financing challenge and contributes to the widening infrastructure gap.

Addressing the global infrastructure gap requires a multifaceted approach. Governments must prioritize infrastructure investment, allocate adequate budgets, and develop supportive policies and regulations to attract private sector participation. Public-private partnerships (PPPs) can also play a crucial role in bridging the financing gap by leveraging private sector expertise and resources.

Mobilizing Resources for Investable Cities

Creating investable cities requires a significant amount of resources, both financial and non-financial. With increasing urbanization and the need for sustainable development, cities must find innovative ways to mobilize resources that can support their growth and address pressing challenges such as climate change and social inequality.

One key aspect of mobilizing resources for investable cities is the engagement of the private sector. Public-private partnerships (PPPs) have proven to be effective in leveraging private sector expertise and capital to drive urban development projects. Through PPPs, cities can tap into the financial resources and technical know-how of private companies, leading to the implementation of innovative and sustainable solutions.

Another crucial resource mobilization strategy for investable cities is tapping into international financing mechanisms. Organizations like the Asian Development Bank (ADB) provide financial assistance and technical expertise to cities in need. With funding instruments and advisory services, ADB helps cities overcome financial constraints and develop sustainable infrastructure systems.

However, it is important to note that mobilizing resources for investable cities goes beyond just financial support. Capacity-building resources, such as training programs and knowledge-sharing platforms, play a crucial role in empowering city officials and stakeholders to make informed decisions and implement effective solutions. By investing in capacity-building initiatives, cities can enhance their ability to attract investments and effectively manage infrastructure projects.

Potential Solutions to Improve Urban Services

There are several potential solutions that can help improve urban services and address the challenges faced by investable cities. These solutions require a multi-faceted approach that involves collaboration between different stakeholders, innovative financing mechanisms, and the adoption of new technologies and sustainable practices. Here are a few potential solutions that can lead to significant improvements in urban service delivery:

1. Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs)

PPPs can be a powerful tool in bridging the infrastructure gap and improving service delivery in cities. By partnering with the private sector, cities can leverage their expertise, resources, and innovative ideas to develop and maintain infrastructure systems. PPPs can also help attract private sector finance, reducing the burden on public finances and promoting efficiency in service provision.

2. Sustainable and Smart Technologies

Embracing sustainable and smart technologies can significantly enhance urban services. For example, integrating renewable energy sources, such as solar or wind power, into energy grids can improve the reliability of electricity supply and reduce carbon emissions. Implementing smart systems, such as intelligent traffic management or waste management systems, can optimize the use of resources and improve service efficiency.

3. Climate Resilient Infrastructure

To address the impacts of climate change, cities need to invest in climate resilient infrastructure. This can include measures such as constructing flood-resistant buildings, implementing green infrastructure, and developing climate contingency plans. By incorporating climate resilience into the design and maintenance of infrastructure, cities can ensure the continuity of essential services even in the face of extreme weather events.

4. Innovative Financing Mechanisms

To overcome financial constraints, cities need to explore innovative financing mechanisms. This can include the issuance of municipal bonds, establishing dedicated investment funds for urban infrastructure, or exploring crowdfunding platforms. Additionally, cities can leverage private sector investments through mechanisms such as land value capture or public land leasing.

5. Capacity-Building and Knowledge Sharing

Building the capacity of city officials and staff is essential for effective service delivery. Investing in training programs, workshops, and knowledge-sharing platforms can empower city administrations to develop, implement, and monitor urban service delivery strategies. Collaboration with academic institutions, think tanks, and international organizations can also provide valuable expertise and guidance.

6. Citizen Engagement and Participatory Planning

Engaging citizens in decision-making processes and involving them in the planning and implementation of urban services can lead to better outcomes. By collecting feedback, incorporating local knowledge, and ensuring transparency, cities can ensure that services are tailored to the specific needs of their residents. This can improve service efficiency, accountability, and overall satisfaction.


Investable cities can create an enabling environment for sustainable development, attract investments, and enhance the quality of life for their residents. Mobilizing resources for investable cities is a multifaceted process that requires collaboration, innovation, and strategic planning. By leveraging the power of public-private partnerships, international financing mechanisms, and capacity-building resources, cities can create sustainable and inclusive urban environments that attract investments and promote long-term economic growth. With the right strategies and engagement from all stakeholders, investable cities can become thriving hubs of innovation, resilience, and prosperity.

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