High-Level Roundtable Statement – Rio+20

Statement by ADB President Haruhiko Kuroda on 21 June 2012 at the Riocentro Convention Center, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Introduction

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen:

The Asia-Pacific region has achieved much in recent years. But, looking ahead, the region must embrace a vision and a strategy for sustainable development. Now, more than at any other point in our history, we recognize that future development in the region must be socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable.

With that in mind, we anticipate the outcome of this Conference and support the commitments to green growth, a stronger institutional framework, and a framework for action that incorporates Sustainable Development Goals as the new vision for the post-2015 agenda.

We believe three key elements of implementation to be of greatest relevance of our region: first, a true integration of the three pillars of sustainable development, that is economically, socially and environmentally sustainable development; second, regional cooperation mechanisms and support; and third, mobilizing the necessary finance.

Three pillars of sustainable development

The pace of development in the Asia-Pacific region has been impressive. But enormous challenges lie ahead. The scale of what remains to be achieved is daunting. Asia remains home to two-thirds of the world's poor. Lagging social indicators show persistent and widespread non-income poverty—hunger and malnutrition, poor health and illiteracy.

Over the past 20 years, inequality has widened in a large number of Asian countries, including the three most populous, fast-growing nations—China, India and Indonesia. Across developing Asia, the Gini coefficient worsened from 39 to 46 during this period. Asia's future growth needs to be inclusive.

Traditional resource intensive economic growth is exposing the problems of resource constraints and mounting harmful impacts. Related debates include food security, water shortages, energy access, infrastructure gaps, climate change and environmental degradation. One forecast shows that, by 2030, water demand in the region will exceed supply by 40%.

Future growth must respond to and provide solutions to these resource constraints. It must be environmentally sustainable. In particular, we need to support sustainable infrastructure and foster the health and productivity of our natural capital. To neglect this responsibility would force millions back into poverty. Encouragingly, the region is already leading the world in commitments to green investment.

We understand sustainable development as development that continues to tackle poverty as well as being both socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable. We can call it inclusive green growth.

Regional cooperation

The second element is strengthened regional cooperation.

ADB has provided leadership for regional cooperation in Asia and the Pacific. For example, we have supported countries in working together to tackle poverty in the Greater Mekong Subregion, improve infrastructure in Central Asia, liberalize trade in South Asia and address climate change in the Pacific.

The Greater Mekong Subregion Biodiversity Corridors Initiative aims to reduce the rate of ecosystem fragmentation in transboundary landscapes. Eight biodiversity corridors have been established, covering 2 million ha. of forest area.

Support for regional platforms for creating and exchanging knowledge resources is a key element of our commitment to strengthen regional cooperation. Better knowledge products and improved access within the region can be an important enabling factor in promoting sustainable development.

Finance

The third implementation element is finance for sustainable development. As a regional development bank, ADB is of course well positioned to address the finance needs of moving towards an inclusive green growth. In 2011, ADB approved about US$7 billion in loans with environmental sustainability components, more than 50% of ADB's total lending.

We need to mobilize additional finance to meet the requirements for building and maintaining sustainable infrastructure and boosting natural capital. We estimate that the region needs about $8 trillion to meet its infrastructure needs over the next ten years to cope with rapid urbanization and development.

It is important to improve access to various funds for sustainable development and green growth, such as the GEF, Climate Investment Funds and Clean Technology Fund. At the same time, it is also important to mobilize private sector investment to meet these enormous financing needs.

The way forward

Ladies and gentlemen:

The reality and the evidence of greater social inequality and emerging challenges of environmental sustainability require us to achieve the three pillars of sustainable development, regional cooperation and resource mobilization.

At ADB, we see the Sustainable Development Goals as key to meeting this challenge. ADB commits itself to continue to support developing Sustainable Development Goals, and work towards the post-2015 development framework. Thank you.