NEW YORK, USA - Asian Development Bank (ADB) President Haruhiko Kuroda said today that Asia and the Pacific, home to three-fifths of humanity and two-thirds of the world's poor, represented the world's best hope for achieving the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
"No global effort to achieve the MDGs will succeed unless our region succeeds," Mr. Kuroda said in his address to the High-Level Plenary Meeting of the UN General Assembly.
The President of the Manila-based multilateral development institution, which is committed to fighting poverty in the Asia and Pacific region, is among the world leaders who have convened in New York this week to accelerate progress toward the MDGs.
Mr. Kuroda noted that the Asia and Pacific region's performance has been highlighted by both notable successes and disappointing setbacks.
"With more than 500 million people having overcome poverty since 1990, the target for reducing extreme income poverty is in sight. The region is also likely to achieve near universal primary school enrolment by 2015, attain gender parity in education, meet the target on access to safe drinking water, and halt the spread of deadly diseases such as TB and HIV," Mr. Kuroda said.
At the same time, the region is lagging the targets for basic sanitation, infant mortality, maternal health, hunger and environmental improvements, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Despite formidable obstacles, Mr. Kuroda said national governments in the region, working with development partners, can accelerate progress on the MDGs by prioritizing and targeting spending in key areas, such as social protection, access to basic services, and basic infrastructure. He also called for the engagement of the private sector, civil society and communities to help governments augment resources and ensure more efficient service delivery.
"The historic Millennium Declaration of 2000 promised a better life to millions of poor in the Asia and Pacific region and across the globe. Our collective action today can make that promise a reality," he said.
Mr. Kuroda stressed the importance of basic infrastructure in attaining the MDGs. Lack of electricity, all-weather roads and other basic infrastructure limit access to health care and discourage children from completing their education.
ADB is targeting increased support for basic infrastructure such as roads, power and sanitation, which are crucial for attainment of the MDGs. It also intends to scale up assistance for education, and for environmental improvements, including the use of clean energy, where ADB investments have grown to more than $1 billion a year, and which are targeted to double to $2 billion by 2013.
Less developed countries, or those suffering from conflicts or disaster, will need more regional help to make progress, and the Asia and Pacific region must step up cross-border cooperation in trade, investment, knowledge and technology, to help bridge gaps in resources and capacities, he said.