Launch of Law in Transition special edition
- Introduction and welcome
Good afternoon and welcome to all of you.
It is a great pleasure to join you here today for the launch of this very special edition of the Law in Transition Journal.
Special because it focuses on the way lawyers deliver knowledge, innovation and impact on behalf of the Bank and for the benefit of the countries where it works.
The role of the law and lawyers in both development as a whole and transition within the EBRD regions is a subject close to my heart.
That interest predates my time here.
It was first piqued by the history of the independence movement in India, the country of my birth, many of whose leading lights were lawyers.
Lawyers were prominent in South Africa’s anti-apartheid movement, its victory and the success of the new Rainbow Nation as well.
And my last role before the EBRD was as the civil service head of the UK Ministry of Justice.
So I know very well that the law and lawyers can make a difference. It is no surprise then that lawyers and leaders with a legal background have played an outsize role in the reforms of the last three decades in the EBRD’s regions
- The role of lawyers in delivering the SDGs
The EBRD is both the child of the momentous events of thirty years ago and the midwife to many of the changes since.
Our mission remains, of course, the same as it was at the time of our birth: furthering progress towards open market economies and promoting private enterprise.
Realising those aims is inconceivable without the huge contribution of the law and the lawyers who practice it.
More recently, we, our partners in the development world and national governments from countries across the globe have embarked on a new challenge: that of delivering the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
These range across areas as diverse as education, health, sustainability, inequality, climate action, infrastructure and biodiversity.
But here again I believe that the role of lawyers and the law will be absolutely crucial in determining whether we deliver these Goals or not.
Clearly, lawyers have many of the skills that are much in demand when dealing with complex problems – and solving them.
Beyond that, who can advocate for and uphold the justice that is at the root of many of the SDGs better than lawyers and the law?
That is true of the legal empowerment of women and vulnerable groups of the population and, more generally, safeguarding human rights.
And of many other areas as well.
Indeed, it is my strong belief that to have a chance of delivering the SDGs we absolutely have to establish robust legal frameworks for our work and strengthen the judicial system and other institutions that underpin them.
Here too we look to the legal profession as a whole and lawyers who work in the field of development finance in particular to help us.
- How this works in practice
Allow me to cite two examples from the EBRD’s activity of how this works in practice.
First, the countries where we invest and the businesses which operate in them need predictable, stable and transparent legal environments and problem-free access to justice.
Only then can they boost foreign direct investment, particularly in key areas such as sustainable infrastructure.
That is precisely what was delivered by our lawyers’ success in designing a Model Law on Public-Private Partnerships for the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly of the Commonwealth of Independent States.
Its main objectives were to harmonise PPP regulation and bring the legislation of individual CIS countries into line with best international practice.
Now China has adopted many of the law’s principles for its own PPP legislation.
Another way of attracting more private investment in infrastructure is by developing innovative risk mitigation and credit enhancement products.
The best example of that is probably the risk mitigation scheme we developed jointly with the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency for Turkey’s Elazig Hospital PPP.
Our lawyers played a critical role in devising a new structure to satisfy this project’s complex needs.
As a result, the project received a very competitive Moody’s rating, two notches above that of Turkey itself, enabling participation by a larger pool of investors and mobilising new sources of funding.
Ladies and gentlemen, there are many such inspiring stories in this new publication.
I urge you to read it. To reflect on the many achievements already accomplished by you and your colleagues in the field of development finance.
And to act on it. The law and lawyers have the potential to do so much more, not least to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals.
Thank you very much.