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  • Central Asia has for centuries been seen as a neglected Russian “backyard,” but international interest in the region has increased over the last two decades because of its vast stores of energy and natural resources. To achieve a brighter future the region must pursue greater economic integration.
  • The global market for sukuk – or Islamic debt securities – has soared from a tiny US$15 billion in 2001 to US$281 billion in 2013. Helping issuers tap the large pool of funds seeking shari’ah-compliant investments would help lower the cost of financing infrastructure, while the innovative profit-sharing structures of some sukuk could also lower the risk of financing such projects.
  • Asia’s drive to urbanize is taking an increasing toll on the environment with growing mountains of solid waste as city dwellers consume and discard resources at an ever increasing rate.   If “green” cities are to be the answer to these environmental stresses then they will need to develop much more effective programs to reduce, reuse, recycle and recover waste.
  • The US Fed has been winding down its bond purchase program, widely known as “quantitative easing,” since December 2013. The program was introduced in the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis to fight the recession and foster a rapid economic recovery. With the improvement in the US economy, the Fed suggested at its policy meeting in March that the program may end this coming fall and it may start raising interest rates about six months from then.
  • How many of your childhood friends do you remember who climbed trees, drew imaginative pictures showing how things worked, built cities of Lego, rode bikes, constructed forts from blankets and furniture and invented elaborate games involving hiding, seeking, capturing … and getting really filthy?
  • Today’s World TB (tuberculosis) day provides an important occasion to raise awareness about a disease that continues to affect millions of people around the globe.
  • Striking rates of economic growth notwithstanding, 550 million people remain hungry in Asia and the Pacific, 65% of the population has no safe piped water, and more than 600 million people live without electricity. Overcoming these problems requires a combined approach in which food, water and energy are treated as a nexus, rather than as separate, standalone issues, which has too often been the case in the past.
  • Increasing women’s leadership in the water sector may appear straightforward given affirmative measures such as project gender action plans and gender targets designed to boost female involvement. However, in practice, very few women have emerged as leaders in the sector as a direct outcome of these measures.
  • Last Friday, 7 March, 2014, Shanghai Chaori Solar Energy Science and Technology Co Ltd defaulted on its 1 billion yuan ’Chaori-11 bond‘ when it failed to pay in full the coupon due that day. The default should not have taken investors by surprise as the company has been struggling over the past few years due to general weakness in the solar panel market.
  • Knowledge management has in recent years become a buzzword in development circles. What is knowledge? The Oxford dictionary defines it as “information and skills acquired through experience or education” – though I particularly like Oxford’s second definition: “the sum of what is known”. If Twitter entries and blog posts were a part of the job of development workers, and not a tedious unpaid burden added to their workload, they would actually share the valuable information in their heads.
  • There is a seemingly hidden problem for Asia in providing economic, social and emotional security for the elderly. But drawing on the experiences of more developed economies, I think there is a silver lining behind this – an opportunity if actions are taken now to provide care and to give dignity to the elderly in Asia.
  • Written by Sonomi Tanaka   Radhika Coomaraswamy, a human rights lawyer and former UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, once said: “Traffickers fish in the stream of migration." What does this mean? It means that trafficking is more likely to occur within a series of migration, when men and women are on the move in search of new opportunities, better incomes and better lives in unfamiliar and strange surroundings.   
  • Recently IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde noted: “In too many countries, the benefits of growth are being enjoyed by far too few people”. She was making the point that high levels of inequality are a global concern.
  • Starting 22 February, Asian Development Bank (ADB) is holding its second No Impact Week challenge for individuals to cut their carbon footprint, following the success of the pilot event in January 2013.
  • Christine Lagarde,  managing director of the IMF, recently warned that “in far too many countries the benefits of growth are being enjoyed by far too few people”. It’s hard to believe that this observation applies to Asia, though, where growth has been so successful at lifting millions of people out of poverty.  Surely, more growth must be the answer?
  • A new report by Asian Development Bank (ADB), Moving from Risk to Resilience: Sustainable Urban Development in the Pacific, argues that efforts to improve urban management in the Pacific can improve both the quality of life in the region’s cities and towns and, at the same time, build greater resilience to natural hazards and climate change-induced events.
  • The Millennium Development Goals, which end in 2015, are a remarkable set of agreed global aspirations, with the world community committing to eradicate extreme poverty for the first time in history.
  • Women are the majority users of public transport. This may be because they are less likely to drive a car than men, or less likely to have priority use of a family vehicle. They are also more likely than men to be poor, making the ownership, re-fuelling and maintenance of a motor vehicle less of an option, especially for women in many developing countries. We can add this to the pervasive gender stereotypes in some countries dictating whether it is culturally appropriate for women to drive a car, take a bus, or even travel at all, especially on their own.
  • The continued urban boom across Asia and the Pacific offers a host of exciting new opportunities for the region but it also presents huge challenges― not least in the critical field of health.
  • Any contemporary story on development in Asia-Pacific begins with reflection on massive gains achieved in the fight against poverty. The incidence of people living on less than $1.25 a day fell from 54.5% in 1990 to 20.7% in 2010, with the number of extreme poor declining from 1.48 billion to 733 million. This precipitous decline in poverty incidence has been accompanied by tremendous gains in access to health and education.
  • The Post-2015 development agenda is leaning toward a goal of eradicating absolute poverty by 2030. The World Bank’s recently approved corporate strategy has the same goal. I believe, however, that this target is absolutely meaningless for our region, Asia and the Pacific.
  • Young people today live in a difficult world.  There are more graduates than jobs in the market, the environment is more degraded than ever before, and competition to earn a living and have the same quality of life as the previous generation is increasingly difficult.
  • The world population clock is ticking. According to the Population Reference Bureau’s “2013 World Population Data Sheet”, on average, 271 people are born worldwide every minute and 106 people die. On 31 October 2011 the world welcomed its 7 billionth citizen and by 2050 it is estimated the number will have grown to 9.6 billion.
  • Director-General of the World Health Organization, Margaret Chan, describes Universal Health Coverage (UHC) as ‘the most powerful concept that public health has to offer’.
  • The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab just marked its tenth year anniversary on the MIT campus outside Boston with a one day event which drew over 1200 participants from all over the world. 
  • Gender-sensitive multi-sectoral capacity building facilitates knowledge sharing and engages stakeholders in inclusive green growth.
  • What can policymakers do to provide young people with the skills they need to succeed in an increasingly technology-driven world? How can young people themselves play a bigger role in skills development? 
  • 2014 is shaping up to be another challenging year for bond markets in Asia after a see-saw 2013 which saw prices rise at the start of the year, and then fall back on news that the US Federal Reserve plans to reduce or ‘taper’ its quantitative easing operations.   
  • We are living in the time of Big Data. It comes from everywhere - from our cell phones, our computers, from fuel pumps, water sensors in meteorological stations, and countless other sources.  
  • The recent stability of food prices in Asia and the Pacific presents policymakers a window for addressing several crucial issues that, if ignored, risk reigniting the food price crisis of 2007–2012 and undermining the region’s rise out of poverty.

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