ASTANA, KAZAKHSTAN - Asia and the Pacific has made striking progress in reducing income poverty in recent decades. Yet close to 750 million people across the region continue to live on less than $1.25 a day and income disparities have widened in 12 out of 28 Asian economies (affecting 80% of Asia’s population). Areas where progress is particularly lacking are access to productive resources and economic opportunities for the poor and disadvantaged groups, but there are also wide deficits in education and health. These trends hurt social cohesion, limit participation, and threaten to block sustained economic growth.
Continued environmental degradation and runaway climate change pose an imminent threat to the economic prosperity of the region and the livelihoods of the poor, who are least able to either mitigate or adapt, adding another layer to their vulnerability.
As highlighted in Independent Evaluation’s recent flagship study Inclusion, Resilience, Change: ADB’s Strategy 2020 at Mid-Term, responding to these challenges will require a triple bottom line of fostering simultaneously economic growth, social inclusion, and environmental sustainability.
It was against this background that Independent Evaluation hosted a seminar at the Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) Annual Meeting in Astana, Kazakhstan. A distinguished panel featuring Shamshad Akhtar (United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific); Gregory Clemente (Director for Asia, Agence Française de Développement); Ruslan Dalenov (Hon. Vice Minister of Finance, Kazakhstan); Stephen Groff (Vice President Operations 2, ADB); and Alexia Latortue (Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Development and Debt, US Treasury Department), shared insights on evolving regional challenges and the need to broaden development priorities around the triple bottom line. The panel also shared observations on ADB’s role in supporting the region to respond to the key challenges it is facing.
In their opening remarks, the panel highlighted the critical importance of addressing inequality, including in middle-income countries, where 90% of Asia’s poor live. The panel also observed that while there can be tension between pursuing growth that is both green and inclusive, they can also be complementary: vulnerable people benefit from a green, climate-resilient growth trajectory. For Central Asia in particular, the role of regional connectivity and trade integration was highlighted as a key development issue. Finally, in pursuing the increasingly complex development challenges of the region, panelists highlighted the critical role of independent evaluation, both in terms of promoting accountability for development outcomes and learning from past experiences.
Moderator Vinod Thomas, Director General of Independent Evaluation, emphasized the critical role that evaluation must play in encouraging innovative approaches to the region’s emerging development challenges.
# # #
Independent Evaluation’s study Inclusion, Resilience, Change: ADB’s Strategy 2020 at Mid-Term and ADB’s Support for Inclusive Growth can be downloaded at http://www.adb.org/documents/inclusion-resilience-change-adb-s-strategy-2020-mid-term.
About Independent Evaluation at Asian Development Bank
The Independent Evaluation Department evaluates the policies, strategies, operations, and special concerns of ADB in its work in Asia and the Pacific. It contributes to development effectiveness by providing feedback on performance and through evaluation lessons. Since 2004, it has reported to the ADB Board of Directors through the Development Effectiveness Committee.