USAID Showcases More Than $286 Million in Planned Programs and Initiatives to Boost Economic Growth in the Indo-Pacific
At the Indo-Pacific Business Forum(link is external) hosted virtually from New Delhi, India, on October 28 and 29, 2021, on the margins of the East Asia Summit, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) announced new funding, activities, and partnerships to expand economic growth in Asia, in support of the United States’ vision of a free, open, secure, and prosperous Indo-Pacific region.
Since the last Indo-Pacific Business Forum, which took place in Hanoi, Vietnam in 2020, USAID has announced more than $286 million in programs and initiatives to unlock solutions that will restart economies and accelerate inclusive growth; combat climate change and its immediate consequences; and also improve the lives of women, youth, and other traditionally marginalized groups. Of this amount, $236 million in planned funding was announced for the first time at this year’s Forum.
Through this new support, USAID intends to continue to bolster small- and medium-sized enterprises; expand the use of renewable energy; enable open, reliable, and secure internet access for people throughout the Indo-Pacific region; and nurture inclusive business environments in which private enterprises, entrepreneurs, and communities can flourish and thrive.
Subject to the availability of funds and approval from Congress, USAID’s planned assistance announced for the first time at the 2021 Indo-Pacific Business Forum includes:
USAID’s new, five-year, $49 million initiative, The South Asia Regional Energy Partnership (SAREP), will facilitate collaboration amongst Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka to improve access to affordable, reliable, and sustainable energy. To achieve ambitious renewable energy goals and increased energy efficiency, SAREP will offer opportunities to leap forward using advanced technologies and infrastructure, and help to facilitate a transition to sustainable energy, including through innovative financing. The clean energy transition will support women’s economic empowerment and lead to a wide range of economic and health benefits for the region’s 1.5 billion citizens. Read more about this new partnership here.
In Indonesia, the $32.7 million USAID Sustainable Environmental Governance Across Regions (SEGAR, or “fresh” in Indonesian) project will bring the Government of Indonesia, businesses, and local communities together to make business-as-usual commodities production less harmful to the environment and more profitable for local farmers and businesses. At the same time, SEGAR will work with committed local governments to strengthen environmental governance that supports decreased emissions from unsustainable land use and reduces threats to biodiversity. Through the SEGAR project, USAID is expected to bring seven million hectares of tropical forest and peatland under improved management, help mobilize up to $45 million of public and private climate finance by 2026, and reduce 55 million metric tons of CO2e—the equivalent of removing nearly 12 million cars from the road for a year. Learn more here.
The $39 million USAID Sustainable Energy for Indonesia’s Advancing Resilience (SINAR, or “beam of light” in Indonesian) project will expand Indonesia’s sustainable, reliable, and equitable energy services, helping to transform the energy sector toward a net-zero emissions future. USAID is expected to mobilize $5 billion worth of private and public financing for investments in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and other advanced energy systems. The project will also assist with the installation of 2,000 megawatts of renewable energy, improving access to energy for five million Indonesians. Read more about this project here.
The five-year, $19 million Trade and Competitiveness Activity in Nepal will increase the competitiveness of Nepali enterprises in targeted sectors with high growth and employment potential, including agriculture, digital services, and tourism. USAID will help businesses facilitate new trade and investment opportunities, improve their access to market-based financial and non-financial services, and boost productivity.
The five-year, $33.4 million Better Access and Connectivity (BEACON) activity in the Philippines will promote an open, interoperable, secure, and reliable internet. USAID will work with the Philippine Department of Information Communications and Technology (ICT) and the Philippine National Telecommunications Commission to improve the country’s ICT infrastructure, promote cybersecurity awareness, and bolster ICT protections. USAID will also collaborate with leading industry partners, including the American Chamber of Commerce and the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council.
The five-year, $15 million Climate Resilient Cities project will help cities in the Philippines adapt to, mitigate, and endure the impacts of climate change by increasing their access to climate financing and tools to build resilience. Through the project, USAID will support local government units and other stakeholders to better understand, use, and disseminate climate information to local communities. The project will also help cities and non-governmental organizations access climate financing to increase community resilience and contribute to communities’ economic and social development, as well as support natural climate solutions that increase cities’ resilience to climate change impacts.
The five-year, $34 million Energy Secure Philippines (ESP) flagship project will promote the country’s key energy sector priorities and support its climate mitigation goals. Through the Energy Secure Philippines project, USAID will work with Philippine government and private sector partners to improve the performance and efficiency of energy utilities, deploy renewable energy systems, advance energy efficiency, enhance competition in the power sector, and strengthen energy sector cybersecurity. The U.S. government will also mobilize at least $750 million in private sector investments and help develop at least 500 megawatts of clean energy generation capacity — the equivalent of burning 90 billion pounds of coal.
In the Pacific Islands, USAID will launch an American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) for Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu that will enable meaningful civic participation of its members and facilitate trade and investment between these island nations and the United States. The new AmCham will connect Pacific businesses seeking to contribute to the civic and economic development of Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu while strengthening and building reliable partnerships with American businesses. Learn more here.
In Papua New Guinea, USAID is partnering with the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) to provide an investment guarantee to Nationwide Microbank (MiBank) Limited to support female entrepreneurs and small business owners. Under this partnership, USAID will assist borrowers by helping them gain financial literacy skills and other skills related to general business management. USAID will also link MSMEs and women borrowers who could benefit from the MiBank guarantee facility, as well as facilitate linkages to cooperatives and business associations to help improve their businesses. The guarantee has the potential to unlock lifesaving social benefits and robust economic growth during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Alliance Leadership Group, the private sector platform advising the Mekong Sustainable Manufacturing Alliance (The Alliance), is seeking firms with an active commitment in leading on Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) issues to join its membership body. With strong participation from global brands, The Alliance plays an instrumental role in advancing ESG priorities in the following sectors in Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam: textiles/apparel, food processing, and electronics. Launched in September 2020 in partnership with USAID, The Alliance is engaging the private sector, catalyzing market forces, and advancing innovative regional initiatives that increase the adoption of ESG standards. The Alliance is implemented by the Institute for Sustainable Communities (ISC) in partnership with ELEVATE(link is external) and the Asian Institute for Technology (AIT(link is external)). For more information, please contact MSMA@sustain.org or email@example.com. Learn more about the Alliance here.
The three-year, $9 million Enhancing Equality in the Energy Sector for Southeast Asia Activity (E4SEA), focusing on Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam, will increase job opportunities for women interested in pursuing careers in energy through efforts to advance gender equality, increase job opportunities for women wanting to pursue energy industry careers, and help develop solutions to address gender-based constraints to talent recruitment. The project will also collaborate with employers to design locally-led interventions to hire, promote, and retain women; increase mentoring and leadership opportunities; and develop vocational education and training programs. Learn more about this project here.
For more information about USAID’s role in making the U.S. Government’s vision for a free, open, secure, and prosperous Indo-Pacific a reality, please visit usaid.gov/indo-pacific-vision.