Welcome Remarks by ADB President Takehiko Nakao on 19 June 2013 at the GDN 14th Annual Global Development Conference - Inequality, Social Protection and Inclusive Growth in Manila, Philippines (as drafted).
His Excellency President Benigno S. Aquino III, my distinguished colleagues and co-hosts, ladies and gentlemen:
It is my honor to welcome all of you to the GDN 14th Annual Global Development Conference. I would like to thank the Global Development Network, the East Asian Development Network, and the Philippine Institute for Development Studies for co-hosting this important event along with the Asian Development Bank.
This conference, focusing on Inequality, Social Protection and Inclusive Growth, could not come at a better time. As you may know, the global development community is discussing the post-2015 agenda. Since the adoption of the Millennium Development Goals, the MDGs, in 2000, we have seen remarkable progress in reducing global income and non-income poverty. However, there is much unfinished business from the MDGs. This conference has gathered a large group of development researchers and practitioners from around the world. I believe the presentations and discussions could make important contributions to global discussions on defining and achieving the new development goals.
As we know, developing Asia has achieved a lot in recent years. Annual average GDP growth reached about 7% during the last two decades, lifting 600 million Asians out of absolute poverty. However, the region still faces tremendous challenges.
Asia remains home to two thirds of the world's poor. More than 800 million people in Asia live on less than $1.25 a day, and 1.7 billion on less than $2 a day.Many social indicators show persistent and widespread hunger and malnutrition, poor health and illiteracy. Hundreds of millions lack access to electricity, or even basic sanitation. Many economies lag behind in achieving the MDGs in several important areas.
This brings us to the basic cause of poverty - unemployment. About 500 million Asians are unemployed or underemployed.
Rising inequality is an emerging challenge for Asia. For example, about a third of developing Asia's economies with available data1 have shown worsening Gini coefficients in recent years. These countries account for more than 80% of Asia's population. Inequality in access to basic social services, such as education and health, exacerbated by income inequality, also persists.
Confronting Asia's Rising Inequality
The post-2015 development agenda should strive to end poverty through reducing inequality, better social protection, and more inclusive growth. These are also very much at the heart of ADB's current long term strategic framework, Strategy 2020.
ADB supports inclusive growth by financing projects and programs in areas such as infrastructure, the financial sector, education, environment protection, and regional integration. These interventions help our developing member countries strengthen the foundation for growth and job creation. They help broaden access to opportunities and basic social services, and they improve regional connectivity. We also help build capacity through technical assistance, and provide policy advice and knowledge solutions, including through our own development research.
In my view, knowledge solutions for development are essential to make our limited development financing more effective. This is one reason why it is opportune for the Global Development Network to hold its annual conference here at ADB.
On this note, I once again welcome all of you to ADB. I look forward to the presentations and discussions over the next three days.
1 12 out of 28, including the People's Republic of China, India and Indonesia, the three most populous countries in Asia.