Statement by ADB President Haruhiko Kuroda at the Signing of the MOU with UNICEF on September 23, 2010 in New York, USA

I am very pleased that the Asian Development Bank and UNICEF have agreed to enhance their partnership through a Memorandum of Understanding.

Being signed on the sidelines of the MDG summit, the MOU is an important initiative that will help the region in accelerating its progress in achieving the MDGs.

What happens in Asia and the Pacific is important for global outcomes due to the size of this region. Just to illustrate the point, globally, 8.8 million children died before their fifth birthday in 2008. Nearly half of these deaths came from just five countries, three of which are in Asia.

Even if some countries are able to reach the MDGs at the national level, they may make insufficient progress for the poorest sections of society. Indeed, studies show it is possible for countries in Asia to reach MDG 4 and 5 but still have no progress at all for the poorest 20% of society. Despite rapid economic growth in Asia, inequity of access and outcomes is a major issue.

So why is this ADB–UNICEF partnership important?

While we have much in common, the MOU recognizes that our differences complement each other. UNICEF is an acknowledged international leader in understanding and responding to the social, cultural, and technical barriers to improved wellbeing of children and mothers. ADB has expertise and a comparative advantage in analyzing and responding to the many market failures that limit poor families' access to the basic services, including water and sanitation, education, and health. ADB has continuous policy dialogue with its member countries, about the level and quality of public expenditure and more efficient — and equitable — allocation of resources.

Much has been occurring between our organizations. But we need to deepen the relationship and put it on a higher footing to accelerate progress.

It is with that in mind that Executive Director Mr. Lake and I are signing this important MOU.

The signing of this MOU opens the way for a broader and deeper engagement in sustainable and inclusive economic growth, especially in the vast and challenging region of Asia and the Pacific.

We must now all make it work. Thank you.