3 questions to Jean Bensaid, director of Fin Infra

As a key partner in the FAST-Infra initiative, the Fin Infra department is part of the Treasury Department of the French Ministry of the Economy, Finance and Industrial and Digital Sovereignty. It advises public entities on their investment projects, and is the point of contact for all public and private players involved in public infrastructure and its financing.

Fin Infra helps public authorities to optimize the legal and financial structuring of their investments, particularly when they opt for a global contract and/or external financing, in the form of bank debt or equity.

At international level, Fin Infra‘s activities are wide-ranging: it develops bilateral cooperation with partner countries, contributes to the development and dissemination of international doctrine on infrastructure financing, promotes the major achievements of the international community in the field of infrastructure, and supports key initiatives at international level. Fin Infra represents France within the G20 on all these issues.

● 3 questions to Jean Bensaid, its director

What motivated the Treasury Department representing France, and Fin Infra in particular, to be the driving force behind the creation of FAST-Infra Group?

In 2019, the One Planet Summit made new commitments on climate, oceans and biodiversity, to put the environment at the top of the international agenda. France wanted to demonstrate that it is possible to redirect investment flows towards sustainable projects. By what means? By putting in place tools to facilitate the financing of investments that meet quality standards in terms of carbon emissions, impact on biodiversity, resilience and social inclusion.

FAST-Infra was launched under the auspices of the One Planet Summit, with the main aim of establishing an international label for sustainable infrastructure projects, in line with the “G20 Principles for Quality Infrastructure Investment”. The Fin Infra department of the French Treasury has been asked by One Planet Lab to represent the French government in implementing the project. DG Trésor is contributing to the project alongside a number of other players; FIG relies on a network of recognized private-sector professionals, as the initiative must meet market expectations if it is to spread.

What are the main financial and ecological challenges facing international infrastructure?

I think these issues were very well presented at the Summit for a New Global Financial Pact. The Summit laid the foundations for a renewed international financial system, creating the conditions for a financing shock so that no country has to choose between reducing poverty, combating climate change and preserving biodiversity.

We need to put into practice the commitments already made in terms of international solidarity and development, mobilize more public concessionary resources and use them more effectively, but also encourage private players to contribute to the effort. Because governments can’t do everything, public resources are limited, and the unprecedented challenges we face require a change of scale “from billions to trillions”. It is therefore essential to attract more private capital to bridge the infrastructure gap, which is a major obstacle to achieving sustainable development goals.

Beyond the Label, what do you see as the priorities for FAST-Infra Group?

As the acronym “FAST” indicates, the most important thing today is to accelerate the flow of private capital into infrastructure. To this end, FAST-Infra Group can provide new solutions and a toolbox to facilitate private investment in infrastructure.

Already under development FAST-Infra Platform is a collaborative platform that connects stakeholders, which facilitates data flow and enables transparent, standardized contracts to mobilize large-scale private investment.

And beyond that, FAST-Infra Beyond is planned as a suite of innovative financing tools (guarantees, syndication structure, financing…) to foster a liquid and deep market for the financing and refinancing of sustainable infrastructure projects and assets. If infrastructure is recognized as an asset class in its own right, then the right tools are needed. This opens up considerable prospects, because the need is there, and it’s urgent to meet it.

admin_fig3 questions to Jean Bensaid, director of Fin Infra