ACEF Speaker

Ramesh Subramaniam

Director General and Group Chief, Sectors Group, Asia and the Pacific,,
Asian Development Bank

Mr. Ramesh Subramaniam has been with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for over 25 years, since March 1997. He has worked in different functions and areas in over 25 countries across the various sub-regions of Asia and the Pacific. In his current capacity as Director General of the Southeast Asia Department (SERD) from July 2017, he is in charge of ADB’s relationship with the 10 countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Timor-Leste, as well as all of its sovereign engagement. He has been a member of various Global Agenda/Future Councils of the World Economic Forum (WEF) since 2012 and currently serves as the co-chair of the ASEAN Hub of WEF’s Sustainable Development Investment Partnership. With a talent pool of over 430 globally and locally recruited staff, SERD has over $25 billion in projects under implementation. SERD also has several ongoing policy and structural reform programs with over $12 billion in funds disbursed and under monitoring. ADB’s new sovereign commitments in Southeast Asia stand at around $7 billion per year in transport, energy, urban, agriculture and natural resources, human development, finance, and public management sectors, besides regional cooperation and integration. Since February 2020, Mr. Subramaniam has been steering ADB’s work in the sub-region to help countries in their COVID-19 response. ADB mobilized close to $6 billion in exceptional financing for economic and health sector measures in Southeast Asia. The principal focus of the Southeast Asia Department from 2021 onwards is on post-pandemic recovery and helping the region deal effectively with the impact of climate change. The department has adopted the “3M Approach": mainstreaming climate change in all of ADB’s work; mobilizing resources to support climate adaptation and mitigation; and messaging on the need for just and affordable climate transition. Mr. Subramaniam has also served as the director general of ADB's Procurement, Portfolio and Financial Management Department (2015–2017); deputy director general of SERD (2013–2015); senior director in the Office of Regional Economic Integration (2011–2013); director of public management and financial sector (2007–2010) as well as director of urban infrastructure (2010–2011) in Central and West Asia; and principal economist and deputy country director in Indonesia (2003–2007). With a strong focus on policy and institutional reforms across the region, Mr. Subramaniam seeks to help the region’s developing member countries reduce poverty, achieve equitable growth, and attract greater private sector investments. He has led several important initiatives such as the establishment of the ASEAN Infrastructure Fund, various critical post-crisis counter-cyclical reform and restructuring programs in many countries, as well as post-disaster reconstruction projects across the Asia and the Pacific. The ASEAN Policy Network and the ASEAN Innovation Hub were established under his leadership in 2017. He also oversaw the establishment of the ASEAN Catalytic Green Finance Facility. Among other aspects of his work, Mr. Subramaniam is most humbled by his role in formulating ADB’s support to developing member countries after several devastating disasters, including the December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami; the 2006 Yogyakarta earthquake; the 2006 Pakistan earthquake; the 2009 Pakistan floods; the 2013 Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines; the 2018 Palu earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia; and most recently the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. In parallel, Mr. Subramaniam has maintained strong interest in education as an instrument for change. Improving social service delivery has been a key part of his support for public sector reforms in many countries. Outside of ADB, he is involved in a range of service activities in livelihood, healthcare, and education, with the aim of promoting basic yet fundamental human values of love, truth, peace, right conduct, and non-violence in society overall. Mr. Subramaniam has an MA in economics from the University of Madras, India (1988) and a PhD in economics from McMaster University, Canada, where he was also a lecturer (1990–1993). He has been a research fellow on industry at the University of St. Andrews in the United Kingdom from December 1993 to January 1994, and a Rockefeller fellow at Yale University Economic Growth Center from February 1994 to March 1997.


  • Closing Plenary: Solidarity and Commitment Toward a Carbon-Neutral Asia and the Pacific with Clean Energy