Statement by ADB Vice-President Bindu N. Lohani on the Millennium Development Goals and Post 2015 Development

Speech | 3 May 2014

Statement by ADB Vice-President Bindu N. Lohani on the Millennium Development Goals and the Post 2015 Development Agenda at the 47th ADB Annual Meeting (as drafted).

Good morning. Thank you for coming.

The Unfinished Agenda

We are fast approaching the 2015 deadline on the Millennium Development Goals. These 8 goals were the first ever globally agreed goals to tackle key development challenges around the world. And they were ambitious. They targeted halving extreme poverty and hunger, improving access to education, and cutting infant and maternal deaths and disease. They also sought equality for women, environmental responsibility, and creating development partnerships.

Asia and the Pacific have done well on some measures. Extreme poverty, for one, has declined sharply, largely thanks to a big reduction in poverty in the People's Republic of China. The Asia-Pacific region has also done well on getting more boys and girls into schools.

However, the region faces a significant unfinished agenda. The region will miss a number of targets such as cutting infant and maternal mortality, closing gender gaps, and some measures to safeguard the environment. Improvement in sanitation is also slow. 1.7 billion people in Asia still have no proper sanitation.

In short, no country will fail all the Millennium Development Goals, but no country will achieve them all either.

The Next Step

After 2015, we need to tackle those unfinished goals and new challenges.

Despite the progress, extreme poverty persists. 733 million people in the region – two thirds of the world's extreme poor – survive on $1.25 or less a day. Moreover, 1.6 billion live on $2 or less a day and are highly vulnerable to falling back into poverty if a family member gets sick, loses their job, or there is an economic downturn or natural disaster.

In addition, Asia-Pacific is now suffering from rising inequality, not only in incomes but also in access to healthcare, education, and jobs. A post 2015 agenda should be underpinned by inclusive growth.

And climate change and natural disasters are huge threats to us all.

ADB has drawn up a new 12-goal plan with the United National Development Programme and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific.

These 12 goals bring together the three pillars of sustainable development – economic prosperity, social equity and environmental responsibility. They replace short-term horizons with longer-term sustained benefits, shaped to national development needs and rooted in equity.

They aim at zero income poverty, zero hunger, and zero malnutrition. Other targets include creating decent jobs, equality for men and women, livable cities, and better protection against disasters. We must urgently address all these issues.

A Changing Asia, A Changing ADB

Developing Asia is changing and so must ADB. To tackle ongoing challenges – and new challenges – ADB will realign its operations to emphasize inclusiveness, build resilience, and strengthen support for middle-income countries.

We have just completed a midterm review of ADB's long-term strategic framework, Strategy 2020. Our 10 new priorities will sharpen and rebalance ADB operations and improve ADB's effectiveness.

We will continue to focus on infrastructure as this is critical to reducing poverty and promoting inclusive growth. But we will also double our investments in health and education.

We will help middle-income countries become more innovative and we will become more innovative ourselves.

In tackling these many challenges with the support of ADB, developing Asia could eradicate extreme poverty by 2025.

Thank you. I am happy to take questions.