In 1999, ADB adopted poverty reduction as its overarching goal and announced its Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS) to achieve this end. The strategy rested on three mutually reinforcing pillars of pro-poor sustainable economic growth, inclusive social development, and good governance. It also included cross-cutting priorities of environmental sustainability, gender equity, private sector development, and regional cooperation.

In 2004, ADB reviewed and enhanced its PRS to take into account the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and take a broader approach to poverty reduction, clarifying that all ADB operational and knowledge work contributes to poverty reduction, either indirectly, or directly.

The enhanced Poverty Reduction Strategy (ePRS) emphasized increased harmonization and alignment of poverty reduction programs among donors and member countries, as well as the fostering of partnerships for poverty reduction. The new approach also puts increased emphasis on managing for development results, as well as capacity development.

In recent decades, the Asia and Pacific region has made remarkable progress in eliminating poverty due to strong economic growth and social policies. However, still an estimated 1.7 billion people live on less than $2 a day. Lack of sufficient inclusiveness of growth and social development is an increasing concern as it threatens social harmony.

ADB's new Strategy 2020 confirms the institution's long term vision of an "Asia and Pacific region free of poverty by 2020". This will be achieved through the promotion of growth that is inclusive, that is environmentally sustainable, and that draws on the region's increasing levels of cooperation and integration.

ADB monitors allocations of its resources and contributions to its broader strategic development goals. It assesses its progress in implementing the poverty reduction strategy and aid effectiveness through annual reports.