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ADB advises growth via knowledge

Publication Date : 06-05-2012


The president of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) yesterday urged the transformation of the region through inclusive, green and knowledge-led growth.

Addressing the opening of the 45th annual meeting of the board of the governors of the ADB in Manila, Haruhiko Kuroda said the successful economies of the future would be well-governed economies, with broad access to opportunities and services to promote the well-being of their people and enhance their quality of life.

"In short, tomorrow's successful economies will focus not on growth alone, but on transforming themselves through growth that is inclusive, green and knowledge-led."

He said Asia needed strong growth to continue making headway against poverty.

While the region can be proud of its record on poverty reduction, much remains to be done, he said.

Several hundred million Asian people still live on less than US$1.25 a day. And growing inequality and polarisation exacerbate the problem.

"Growth in itself is therefore not enough; only through inclusive growth will this tremendous challenge be met," he said.

Most countries in Asia are now pursuing an inclusive growth agenda, helping more households, farmers and small-business owners to participate in and benefit from growth, Kuroda said. These countries are investing more in health, education and skill development.

The ADB has worked with the governments of Cambodia and Laos to implement social safety nets, community-driven development and smallholder development projects, he said.

In the Philippines, the ADB-supported conditional cash-transfer programme is transforming the lives of poor children and poor families, Kuroda said.

He added that a better quality of economic growth must be not only inclusive, but also environmentally sustainable.

"Green growth recognises that environment, social and economic development complement - rather than compete with - one another," he said.

He praised efforts made by India and China, saying that the latter country had become one of the world's top installers of wind-turbine and solar photovoltaic systems for power generation. Meanwhile, India is strongly encouraging the rapid expansion of biogas, solar and other forms of renewable energy.

Many countries in Asia and the Pacific are adopting plans to reduce the intensity of carbon-dioxide emissions and improve resilience to climate change.

With ADB support, many countries are working together to conserve natural resources and critical ecosystems, such as the coral-triangle initiative in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, on which a coastal population of more than 120 million depends, he said.

Asia needs to also recognise the critical importance of knowledge-led growth, Kuroda said. It needs institutional, governance and regulatory frameworks that will foster investment in research and development, protect intellectual property rights, offer incentives for innovations, and stimulate competition.

Asia also needs to invest more in modern and cost-effective economic infrastructure to support and sustain a knowledge-based economy and society, he added.

About 50 protesters organised by global union federations rallied in front of the Philippine International Convention Centre where the ADB's meeting was taking place, demanding that the rights of labourers be respected by the bank.

"We dare the ADB to walk the talk. Be a responsible institution by putting forward pro-worker policies in its projects from design down to implementation," Mahendra Sharma, regional secretary of the International Transport Federation, said in a statement.

Workers in the Philippines on Labour Day on Tuesday demanded that their government raise the minimum wage by 125 pesos ($2.9) from its current rate of 426 pesos a day ($10).


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