ADB Must Play 'Vital Role' in Helping Developing Asia Achieve MDGs

ISTANBUL, TURKEY (4 May 2005) - ADB has a vital role to play in working with developing Asia to reach the full range of Millennium Development Goals, Ibrahim H. Canakci, Turkish Undersecretary of Treasury, said today.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of ADB's 38th Annual Meeting in Istanbul today, Mr. Canakci, who is also Chair of ADB's Board of Governors, said that Asia is on track to reduce by half the number of people living in extreme poverty by 2015. But for most of developing Asia, addressing the other MDGs, including education, gender equality, child and maternal health and HIV/AIDS, will remain a huge challenge, he said.

Joining Mr. Canakci on the podium for the opening of the Annual Meeting, which runs until Friday, were ADB President Haruhiko Kuroda and Turkish Minister of State in charge of Economy Ali Babacan.

Mr. Babacan said Turkey's membership of ADB at the start of the 1990s was a crucial step forward in opening up new frontiers for Turkey in a fast track globalization era.

"Hosting the 38th Annual Meeting of ADB will further strengthen our bonds and create an increasing awareness of the Bank's commendable activities," he said.

Mr. Babacan praised ADB's record as a hub of development financing, technical assistance, and its role in facilitating regional integration, as well as ADB's response to the tsunami disaster of December 2004.

"It is clear to see that ADB will continue to be a major source of financing for development, and also an increasingly important source of expertise," Mr. Canakci added.

"Perhaps more than any other institution, it has a deep and broad understanding of the issues facing developing Asia. ADB is uniquely positioned to share lessons learned with its developing member countries."

He said ADB must strengthen its work on regional and subregional cooperation and stressed as urgent the need to address the issues surrounding the current rapid urbanization taking place in Asia.

Mr. Canakci pointed out that ADB has taken action to respond to recommendations of the review of its poverty reduction strategy and moved forward on management reforms to boost development effectiveness.

"As owners and shareholders of this institution, it is up to all of us to look ahead to the horizon, anticipate the development needs of the future, and support ADB to achieve its important goals," he concluded.

He said ADB and Turkey have a strong partnership in improving the lives of the poor of Asia and the Pacific.

"As a country that bridges the two continents of Asia and Europe, this is an issue of great importance to Turkey, and increasingly so as our world becomes more globalized and interconnected," he said.

"We value our involvement with ADB and look forward to continuing our work together.

About 3,000 delegates have gathered for the three-day event, which brings together senior economic and finance planning government officials, ministers, academics, journalists, business people, investment bankers, and representatives of international organizations and nongovernment organizations.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will give an address during a cultural event at the Annual meeting tomorrow evening.