As the discussion around the post-2015 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) framework gains momentum, I also want to add my meek voice to the growing buzz, which is likely to reach a crescendo in September this year. The MDGs represent the global vision of reducing poverty in its various dimensions. Needless to say, we need continued attention to all the goals, since we can hardly declare “mission accomplished” in any of the dimensions of poverty they seek to address.
Developing countries in the region have made good progress in increasing student enrollments and financing for education; however, heightened spending has not effectively translated into improved education outcomes. High dropout rates and low completion rates in education further exacerbate the situation in many countries.
Aging can adversely affect economic performance, demanding changes in social and economic policies to address the challenge. While the best-known dimension of aging relates to fiscal sustainability due to spiraling health care and pension costs, the repercussions are wider. More worryingly, aging will ultimately constrain economic growth because labor supply shortages result in lower GDP growth in the absence of increases in total factor productivity.
Resource depletion and environmental pollution are serious issues in developing Asia. This was well illustrated in January of this year when northern People’s Republic of China (PRC) suffered its worst air pollution on record. The level of pollution moved many to question the old development model of “pollute first, improve later”.
A completely different way of thinking about how to address chronic and severe poverty has emerged. And this idea works. The evidence is preliminary but it is quite strong, and there is more coming very soon.
For the small, isolated Pacific islands, access to more affordable and reliable telecommunications, particularly high-speed (broadband) internet, offers new economic opportunities. It has been estimated that a 10% increase in broadband penetration raises GDP by over 1% in such countries.
I have been in several discussions recently in which people have argued that there is a definite trade-off between promoting economic growth and supporting inclusiveness. In particular, social protection is considered part of a set of welfare-oriented “populist policies” which is a drain on national budgets, as opposed to real investment to spur economic growth.
I recently received two e-mails that piqued my interest anew about the expanding system of rice intensification (SRI) in India. One is a newspaper article about the “new green grassroots revolution” in Bihar, India’s poorest state, and the other is a set of charts showing the impacts of an ADB-financed irrigation project in Chhattisgarh.
The ADB Health Community of Practice had an opportunity to contribute to the regional post-2015 social development agenda last week. Susann Roth, a Senior Social Development Specialist colleague in the Regional Sustainable Development Department, presented the initial outcomes from the ADB-UNDP-UNESCAP-sponsored Asia and the Pacific consultations.
I am not an environment or climate change expert, but I am an environmentalist out of conviction. When I was 14 years old I wrote a letter to the German Minister of Environment asking for faster policy action to reduce green house gas emissions.