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Plenary Statement – Rio+20
Statement by ADB President Haruhiko Kuroda on 21 June 2012 at the Riocentro Convention Center, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen:
First of all, I would like to express sincere gratitude to the Government of Brazil for its warm hospitality. I would also like to commend UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for his leadership and all the people who worked hard for this conference.
ADB supports the Secretary-General's leadership for the Sustainable Development Goals. We stand ready to contribute ADB's experience and expertise to formulating the goals and building the post-2015 framework.
The regional perspective from Asia
The world is experiencing a fundamental transformation and an unprecedented set of challenges. The economic center of gravity is gradually shifting to Asia as a result of its decades of strong and rapid growth. Hundreds of millions have broken the shackles of extreme poverty. The region has also made significant progress in achieving several other targets of the Millennium Development Goals, including universal primary education.
But the fact remains that, despite these very real gains, Asia is still 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. Half of Asia still lives without basic sanitation and about 700 million people are without access to electricity.
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. Removing constraints to inclusive growth is key to ADB's strategy.
While the region needs strong growth to address poverty and inequality, growth brings daunting challenges in terms of environmental sustainability. These include inadequate infrastructure, limited energy access and water supply, food shortages, climate vulnerability, rapid urbanization, and degraded ecosystems. These problems threaten to render our future development unsustainable. Therefore, ensuring that growth is green is another key element of the ADB strategy.
We believe that to be sustainable, development must achieve a true integration of inclusive and green growth. And we believe that the region is well placed to rise to the challenge.
Inclusive green growth in Asia
ADB continues to support our region's endeavor for sustainable development. In achieving this goal, we identified three regional priorities: sustainable infrastructure, natural capital, and better policies and institutions.
First, it is clear that the region has daunting infrastructure needs. The rate of urban growth alone is adding 44 million people to the urban population annually. This is creating huge needs for housing, transport infrastructure, energy supply, water and sanitation, and investment in greater climate resilience. We estimate that up to $8 trillion will be needed for infrastructure over the next decade in developing Asia.
It is our view that this creates a unique opportunity to choose the right kind of infrastructure to support an inclusive green development pathway. Decisions made today on sustainable infrastructure will guide the region to a better type of growth.
There are encouraging signs. For example, the region is rapidly becoming a global leader in green investment in response to the demand for cleaner energy and sustainable technologies. The People's Republic of China became the world's top installer of both wind turbines and solar energy systems. Green investment can be a driver of economic growth and a source of new jobs.
ADB provides nearly $2 billion annually under our Clean Energy Program. We also support energy access, water supply and sanitation.
Second, growth on the scale that Asia has experienced in recent years puts huge pressure on the region's natural capital base. This threatens livelihoods, health and security, especially that of the poor. For example, we continue to see high rates of deforestation, loss of mangroves and coral reefs, and destructive fishing practices. Future growth scenarios imply even greater stress.
ADB supports regional cooperation among developing member countries to protect some of the region's large critical ecosystems. Examples include conservation of biodiversity in the Greater Mekong Subregion, and prevention of over-use of resources, and adaptation to climate change in the Pacific.
Third, the region needs to build its capacity to develop and implement policies and governance frameworks that encourage green growth. Green growth policies include incentives for investment in green technologies, removal of barriers to private sector investment, facilitating investment in developing green transport, clean energy, and others.
We believe that regional cooperation is essential to bring about better policies and governance for green growth. Many of ADB's initiatives on sustainable infrastructure involve regional coordination and knowledge sharing.
Ladies and gentlemen:
Greater social inequality and the issues of food security, water supply, energy access, rapid urbanization, climate change and environmental degradation leave us no choice but to commit to sustainable development.
We trust our deliberations here in Rio will galvanize a global commitment to a true integration of economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development. What really matters now is action—what we do to put the vision into practice.
At ADB, we see the Sustainable Development Goals as key to the challenge. ADB commits itself to continue to support developing Sustainable Development Goals, and work towards the post-2015 development framework.