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Stepping Up Efforts to Reduce Poverty in Asia Pacific

Asian Development Bank (ADB) President Tadao Chino called on Asia and Pacific countries to promote private sector development, increase investment, and foster regional cooperation to ensure sustained economic growth in the fight against poverty in the region.

The lack of infrastructure has proven to be a major impediment to growth in the region. "Recent estimates suggest that the investment requirements for infrastructure for the Asia and Pacific region exceed $250 billion per year. Infrastructure is critical for realizing sustained broad-based economic growth, and has strong linkages with other sectors," Mr. Chino said.

The ADB President made the comments in his keynote address at the opening of the three-day conference, "Scaling Up Poverty Reduction: A Global Learning Process," in Shanghai. The conference is sponsored by the World Bank, in cooperation with ADB, and other multilateral and bilateral donors, and hosted by the government of PRC. The gathering will enable developing countries and key development organizations to share experiences and lessons learned from poverty reduction initiatives around the world.

Asia and the Pacific have seen strong economic growth in recent decades that has seen a dramatic reduction to poverty in the region. The number of people living on less than a dollar a day fell from 32% in 1990 to 22% in 2000. That translates into a reduction from 900 million poor in the region to 720 million or 180 million fewer people living in poverty.

Despite these successes, Asia faces a sobering array of challenges. Mr. Chino called on the international community to supplement the efforts of the developing countries to reduce poverty by increased financial support. He said a portion of ADB's Asian Development Fund, which shareholders recently pledged to replenish by US$7 billion, would be allocated for grants to support poverty reduction programs in the poorest developing countries.  He also called for innovative approaches and adequate resources to respond to the wide-ranging needs in middle-income countries.

He also cautioned that limited progress has been made in attaining the non-income Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and noted that there is a serious risk that many countries in the region may not achieve the goals related to health, education, gender, and the environment. "The task before us in the fight against poverty, therefore, remains both urgent and immense."

Mr. Chino said that for poverty reduction efforts to be meaningful, economic growth should be inclusive, which requires institutional reforms, better governance, responsive bureaucracies, and improved capacities.

ADB's Poverty Reduction Strategy, adopted in 1999, aims to fight poverty in all its dimensions, and is built on three pillars: promoting pro-poor sustainable economic growth; social development; and good governance. 

The Asian Development Bank is dedicated to reducing poverty in the Asia and Pacific region through pro-poor sustainable economic growth, social development, and good governance. Established in 1966, it is owned by 63 members, including 45 from the region.  In 2003, ADB approved loans and technical assistance amounting to US$6.1 billion and US$177 million, respectively.

(China.org.cn May 26, 2004)

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