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Op-eds and Opinion

ADB management and subject experts share knowledge, views, and insights on development issues in op-ed articles and opinion pieces published in international and regional publications.

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  • Every day, Asia's cities expand by about 120,000 people, a level of urbanization unprecedented in human history. For many, this conjures up visions of an apocalyptic urban nightmare in which Asia's population will increasingly inhabit a twilight world of teeming, filthy, polluted streets. However, the reality could be a whole lot rosier, for both Asia's urban poor and the environment.
  • India's future is bright, but its continued economic progress is not preordained. The challenge of sustaining growth that is equitable is formidable. Policies and institutions will have to play a key role if it wants to tap the opportunities associated with catching up with its Asian peers and harness globalization.
  • The bad news, however, is that such rapid growth does not come without a cost. Economic growth is essential to overcome poverty. This should, however, not happen at the expense of the environment and the chances of future generations to utilise Asia's natural resources. Currently, some 44 million people are being added to Asia's urban population every year, equivalent to 120,000 people a day. This trend is expected to continue. The United Nations forecasts Asia's urban population to reach almost 2 billion people by 2015, or nearly half the regional population.
  • The Pacific islands call to mind images of paradise. Beneath this romantic veneer, however, are impoverishment and civil strife. Political and social dynamics increasingly resemble those in sub-Saharan Africa. Political upheaval in Fiji, riots in Tonga and earlier crises in the Solomon Islands and Timor Leste are some examples. A few decades ago, when these nations gained independence, it would have been hard to imagine that the region would be concerning itself with an ever-increasing number of poorly performing states.
  • In Asia, countries that put the money and political will into building infrastructure are rewarded with dynamic economic growth. Just look at some of the world's best performing economies: China, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Viet Nam. All have made the development of infrastructure a priority.
  • Behind the news of Asia's booming economies, vast pockets of persistent and paralyzing poverty remain. China raised eyebrows around the world with 11.3 percent growth in the second quarter of this year, but 42 percent of all Chinese continue to live on the equivalent of less than $2 a day. In India, three-quarters of the population more than 800 million people survive each day on less than the cost of a Starbucks latte. All told, almost 1.9 billion people, or 60 percent of all Asians, still live in poverty.
  • Rapid economic development in recent decades has pulled Asia from the periphery to the center of the global economy. In the process, hundreds of millions of Asians have risen out of poverty and many millions more continue to benefit from new economic opportunities. Asia knows how to grow. To spread the wealth further, it must grow well. Quality growth the kind that brings the poor into the mainstream economy, creates jobs and raises incomes without destroying the environment is not easy to achieve. Asia is at a defining moment.
  • Developing Asia has a vital stake in the outcome of the troubled Doha "development round" of trade negotiations. The ingredients of a good deal would include: a reduction of tariffs on manufactured goods by developing countries, a meaningful reduction in agricultural protection by developed countries, an opening of trade in commercial services by all, and a format that limits special-treatment and protection measures such as antidumping.
  • India's economic reforms have transformed it from a plodding economic behemoth into a rising nation. In the past three years, growth has averaged more than 8%. The reforms are improving the lives of millions of Indians. But to spread the country's success, the economy must create more and better jobs. Else, the sustainability of growth will be undermined as inequalities trigger political and social responses that turn economic policymaking into a zero-sum game.
  • Central Asia is at a turning point, and its leaders agree that regional co-operation and integration are critical to prosperity. Its governments are making progress towards establishing a policy environment that will encourage investment and enable private sector growth. Its economies are exhibiting new levels of strength. It is therefore time for the region to agree on and take the next steps towards integration. It is in the interest of the international community to help move the agenda forward.