Major democracies launch values-based infrastructure partnership

The United States and other major democracies will support infrastructure projects that provide sustainable benefits for developing countries.

The Build Back Better World (B3W) Partnership, announced at the Group of Seven (G7) conference in June, seeks to address the $40 trillion infrastructure gap in the developing world and to advance economic recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a statement, the White House described the plan as “a unified vision for global infrastructure development” that will bring the power of government funding, development agencies and the private sector to infrastructure projects across the world.

“B3W will collectively catalyze hundreds of billions of dollars of infrastructure investment for low- and middle-income countries in the coming years,” the White House said.

The G7 acknowledged that the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened infrastructure needs in the developing countries in a statement issued after its Leaders Summit in June. “As leaders accountable to all our citizens, we are determined to ensure our plans for recovery build back better for all,” the G7 said in the communiqué.

The G7 countries are Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Values-driven development

Under the plan, different G7 member nations will have different geographic orientations, and the partnership will support projects that address climate, health and health security, digital technology, and gender equity and equality.

President Biden, who proposed the infrastructure partnership to the G7, says B3W will support environmentally sustainable infrastructure projects that reflect democratic values. The program’s guiding principles call for projects that:

  • Follow high standards of construction, transparency and financing and include safeguards for labor and the environment.
  • Invest in a manner consistent with achieving the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.
  • Advance strong partnerships through consultation with communities to address true needs.

The U.S. and other major democracies will also seek to strengthen development finance tools to increase private sector investment that follows high standards and leads to better outcomes and will work with multilateral development banks and other international financial institutions to enhance their impact.

Speaking at the G7, Biden characterized B3W as “a much more equitable way to provide for the needs of countries around the world” than the People’s Republic of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which has left some countries with environmental damage and unsustainable debt.

“We believe that [B3W] will not only be good for the countries, but it’ll be good for the entire world,” Biden said. These investments will “represent values that our democracies represent, and not autocratic lack of values.”