The famous poet Rumi once said, “Your true country is not where you are but where you are going.“ He wanted us to think about the afterlife because what we believe affects our action. But even Rumi could only guess and theorize what lies on the other side. Like the future the afterlife is unknowable.
However, we can make educated guesses about the development paths of countries and the region, which we are creating in the near future.
So, what will this future for Asia and the Pacific look like - the region with the fastest economic growth and, at the same time, with the poorest people and the largest inequalities in the world?
This is the big question that stimulates discussion as Asia and the Pacific formulate perspectives on the Post 2015 development agenda, the successor of the Millennium Development Goals. The voice of Asia and the Pacific is quite important in this exercise because it will affect the entire planet, whether the region gets it right or wrong.
To solicit views from Asia and the Pacific, the regional MDG partnership of ADB/ESCAP and UNDP conducted sub-regional consultations.
The participants from governments, civil society and the private sector including think tanks discussed the following:
- Lessons learned from the MDGs;
- New development challenges; and
- The most suitable approach for formulating a Post 2015 development agenda for Asia and the Pacific
For me the most striking was that in these consultations everybody agreed that climate change is a game changer for development in Asia and the Pacific. Social, economic and environmental development cannot be seen separate and an integrated development approach is required. In many cases, governments in the region are actually already designing inclusive and sustainable development plans; however, they are faced with enormous challenges in translating them into reality.
In these consultations it was agreed that poverty reduction and well being for all –including the well being of the plant - should lead the regional and global vision of the Post 2015 agenda. There was consensus that economic growth is important for reducing poverty – as experienced in Asia and the Pacific. However, the previously expected “trickle down effect” has been proven not to materialize in many cases. For that reason economic growth needs to be inclusive and sustainable.
Participants also agreed that a strong narrative about means and strategies to achieve the new agenda has to accompany the proposed goals, which was missing in the MDGs. This implies highlighting the importance of good governance, peace and security, and political stability. The new agenda needs to be practical and should not be overburdened - root causes of inequality, poverty of opportunities, and vulnerabilities (including those related to climate change) should be tackled, and those might differ from country to country.
The consultations highlighted that the Post 2015 development agenda for Asia and the Pacific must be applicable to all countries and be tailored to country needs and development status. For developed countries, lifestyle changes and sustainable consumption pattern should be addressed. It was also emphasized that the new agenda needs to be taken up in national planning, policies and budgeting. There was an understanding that ODA (official development assistance) will be mainly relevant for LDCs (Least Developed Countries) but DMCs need to strengthen their internal revenue mobilization, leverage FDI (foreign direct investment), increase private sector investment, and mobilize global climate funds such as the future green fund for Post 2015 development agenda implementation.
It is of course not possible to summarize the perspectives of Asia and the Pacific in this short blog. For those who want to learn more about the consultations and who enjoy visual presentations, these might be interesting for you. These references summarize the key findings and entry points for formulating a new development agenda for Asia and the Pacific.
The next months will be exciting. The High Level Panel of Eminent Persons’ (HLPEP) last meeting is happening in Bali at the end of March, which will emphasize on strategies for partnership and cooperation for development. The HLPEP report with their recommendations will be submitted to the UN Secretary General at the end of May. I am already looking forward to the discussions that will follow the publication of this report.
For us in ADB, we are trying to be innovative and progressive in bringing our views on Post 2015 forward and what role ADB can play in supporting inclusive and sustainable development in Asia and the Pacific. Several thematic working papers and think pieces are on the way to contribute to the regional and global discussion and to stimulate our internal thinking. In my view - but I might be biased as health and social protection specialist - we need to strengthen the inclusiveness of ADB’s business through more capacity development, knowledge work and investments in social protection and health, and continue to link both to our core sectors.
Most important in all this - whatever shape the Post 2015 development agenda will have - is the need to put all efforts together to create the future we want for Asia and the Pacific. And this future needs to be inclusive and sustainable!
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