Closing statement by Haruhiko Kuroda, ADB President, at the 44th Annual Meeting, Ha Noi, Viet Nam
I. Introductory Remarks
Mr. Chairman, Governors of the Asian Development Bank, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.
The 44th Annual Meeting is now drawing to a close. Over the last few days, we have discussed key issues facing the region, and the steps needed to consolidate development gains in the wake of the recent global crisis. It was particularly enlightening to look a few decades into the future and see that the Asia and Pacific region has the potential to take its place among the world's economically advanced regions – if the right policy decisions are made today, and accompanied by productive, effective investments. I thank all of you for once again providing ADB with your insights and advice.
Let me briefly review a few highlights of this Annual Meeting.
II. The Region
I appreciate the views shared by Governors on the challenges and opportunities ahead. It is clear that the region as a whole has a promising future. Yet, many countries continue to face significant development hurdles.
Rising food and fuel prices and the accompanying inflationary pressures are threatening the continued recovery from the crisis, putting economic growth and poverty reduction at risk. These pressures must be carefully monitored and squarely addressed. Many developing countries in the region are lagging behind in achieving the non-income Millennium Development Goals. Growing inequalities are also of serious concern; left unchecked, these inequalities can destabilize the region and stunt its future growth.
There is wide agreement that the emphasis must continue to be on inclusive, environmentally sustainable, and balanced growth. As many Governors noted, investment in quality public services – infrastructure, education, and social safety nets – is essential to bridge the gap between those countries and citizens who are prospering, and those being left behind. And investments in "green growth" – particularly in clean and renewable energy and effective use of water resources – will help make growth environmentally sustainable. The Asia and Pacific region remains highly vulnerable to climate change and natural disasters, and must lead the way in addressing these major issues.
Asia's fast recovery from the global crisis provided a unique opportunity for rebalancing growth, and it is encouraging to note that many of the region's economies have begun to enjoy the harvests of greater domestic and regional demand. This process needs to be sustained to further increase the region's resilience and help unwind global imbalances.
Asia's large development challenges require action at national, regional and global levels. At the national level, strong leadership and good governance are essential. They underpin the very fabric of inclusive and sustainable growth. And they are crucial to engage the private sector in development, which in turn is fundamental to growth and job creation.
At the regional level, there is much that Asian economies can do together to help each other and raise the fortunes of all. I very much appreciate the strong consensus that has emerged on the need for regional cooperation and integration. Increased South–South cooperation would also benefit Asia, and other developing regions, by strengthening economic ties and facilitating the sharing of development experiences.
At the global level, Asia should seize the opportunities afforded by its increasing influence in the global economy to participate more fully in resolving global issues and providing global public goods. Asia also needs to respond to the increased responsibilities that accompany its increased influence.
III. ADB in the Asia and Pacific Region
We at ADB very much appreciate the support Governors expressed this week for our ongoing efforts in the region. Increased resources through ADF X and GCI V have helped us deliver on Strategy 2020 and substantially increase our support for developing member countries.
We heard from Governors concerns about ADB's performance in some areas, including the need to more forcefully pursue gender equity. ADB will take action to improve development outcomes and strive for the highest standards of operational effectiveness. We will continue to empower our resident missions, and complete our work on Accountability Mechanism and Public Communications Policy reviews, taking your ideas and suggestions into account. To address food security, we will continue to work flexibly within the framework of Strategy 2020 to enhance agricultural productivity and resilience, together with market connectivity. We will strongly pursue regional cooperation for infrastructure connectivity, trade and better financial integration, and consider how we can best address disaster vulnerabilities.
The ADF XI negotiations will be a priority in the coming year. We must consider the way forward in light of the development challenges facing ADF countries in the post crisis period. These include slow progress on the non-income MDGs, vulnerability to climate change and natural disasters, inadequate infrastructure and, in many countries, increasing income disparities. In addition, rising commodity prices threaten the nascent recovery, with a direct potential impact on food security and poverty. ADF assistance will be critical to maintain the development momentum in ADF countries. I therefore strongly urge ADF donors – traditional and emerging – to provide significant new resources to ADF XI. At the same time, ADB will do its utmost to mobilize its own internal resources.
IV. Concluding remarks
I am grateful for your ongoing support and confidence you have expressed in ADB. As we close this 44th Annual Meeting, let us once again take the opportunity to reaffirm our collective commitment to the people of Asia and the Pacific – and to our vision of a region free of poverty.
I would like to express our sincere gratitude to His Excellency, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and to the Chair, Governor Giau, for the excellent arrangements. And I especially want to thank the people of Ha Noi who, through their warm hospitality and support, made this 44th Annual Meeting of the ADB a most memorable occasion.
I would also like to congratulate the Governor for the Philippines, who will serve as Chair of the Board of Governors for the coming year.
I look forward to seeing all of you next year when we will meet in Manila for ADB's 45th Annual Meeting.
Thank you again, and have a safe and pleasant journey home.