U.S. and OECD co-host panel on quality infrastructure and the Blue Dot Network

Secretary of State Antony Blinken joined business and civil society representatives for a discussion on the Blue Dot Network and the imperative to raise standards in infrastructure investment on October 5, 2021.  Secretary Blinken and co-panelists Yves Perrier, Chair of Amundi, Brendan Bechtel, CEO of Bechtel Group, and Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, emphasized the importance of quality infrastructure investment that respects human rights and good labor practices, protects the environment, aligns investment with climate goals, embeds openness and transparency to counter corruption, and encourages a level commercial playing field.  These issues are critical for addressing many of the greatest challenges faced by global economies as they seek to “build back better” from the COVID 19 pandemic.

The Blue Dot Network, announced jointly by the United States, Japan, and Australia in 2019, will be a mechanism to certify quality projects that meet robust international standards.  Blue Dot Network certification would serve as a globally recognized symbol of open and inclusive, transparent, Paris Agreement-aligned, and financially, socially, and environmentally sustainable infrastructure projects.  By utilizing a common standard and assurance of project excellence, the Blue Dot Network would help attract private capital to infrastructure projects in developing and emerging economies.

Secretary Blinken announced a new initiative in partnership with the OECD – Connecting the Dots:  Building Trusted Systems to Address Corruption in Infrastructure – which aims to tackle corruption in infrastructure projects, complementing the Blue Dot Network’s goal of greater openness and transparency.  The anti-corruption program, supported by the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs and the OECD’s Trust in Business initiative, will build the capacity of stakeholders in infrastructure projects to implement effective anti-corruption systems in line with leading anti-corruption standards and global programs for infrastructure, including the Blue Dot Network.

With U.S. State Department financial assistance, the OECD Trust in Business initiative is providing technical support to design and implement the Blue Dot Network.  The OECD has analyzed the leading infrastructure standards widely used in the world today and mapped them against the Blue Dot Network’s core elements for quality infrastructure.  The OECD is providing options and recommendations to the Blue Dot Network Steering Committee on operationalizing a global certification process and review framework.

The OECD has also organized the Blue Dot Network Executive Consultation Group, a group of over 160 representatives of civil society, academia, and business, including infrastructure developers and financiers to provide strategic input on the implementation of the Blue Dot Network.  The Executive Consultation Group includes asset managers who together manage over $12 trillion in assets worldwide.  The group meets on an ongoing basis to review efforts and advise on how to ensure the certification process is efficient, legitimate, and serves the need of all stakeholders.

The Blue Dot Network could also serve as the platform for common standards in the new Build Back Better World (B3W) partnership of the G7.  At the G7 Summit in June 2021, President Biden announced the B3W initiative, a values-driven, high standard, and transparent infrastructure partnership aimed to help address the massive infrastructure demand in the developing world in four focus areas – climate, health and health security, digital connectivity, and gender equity and equality.  B3W’s efforts will be guided by high standards and principles, such as those promoted by the Blue Dot Network, relating to the environment and climate, labor and social safeguards, transparency, financing, construction, anti-corruption, and other areas.

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