Asia Archive

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Universal access to clean, efficient energy is vital for poverty reduction,

Lack of access to modern energy services is keeping tens of millions of people in poverty and poor health across Asia and the Pacific region, the majority of them women, the United Nations told a regional energy policymakers’ meeting here.

As they cope with high international oil prices that led to an increase in poverty in the region last year, Asia-Pacific countries must ensure that national energy policies aim to universalize access to clean and efficient energy services, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) said.

“Ensuring access to modern energy services, doubling the rate of improvement in energy efficiency and doubling the share of renewable energy can revitalize the regional economy, combat climate change and go a long way toward ensuring equal opportunity for all,” Rae Kwon Chung, Director, Environment and Development Division, ESCAP told the Expert Group Meeting on Sustainable Energy Development in Asia and the Pacific, reiterating the vision of the United Nations Secretary-General’s ‘Sustainable Energy for All’ initiative.

Representatives from over 15 Asia-Pacific governments and energy experts from around the world met at the 27-29 September Expert Group Meeting organized by ESCAP jointly with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to review energy security challenges facing the region and lay the groundwork for a regional energy security agenda.

ESCAP estimates show that over 40 per cent of the approximate 4 billion people in the region mainly rely on traditional biomass for their cooking and heating needs while nearly 1 billion people lack electricity. This has enormous socio-economic costs, most of them borne by women who comprise nearly 70 per cent of the estimated 1 billion people in the region living on less than US$1.25 a day.

“Wider access to energy is a critical for reducing inequality. In formulating energy policies, we need to listen to the voices of the poor and marginalized,” Nanda Krairiksh, Director, Social Development Division, ESCAP told the meeting.

“Ensuring universal access to basic, clean energy services also provides significant benefits in the domains of health, literacy and equity,” Ms Krairiksh said. “Access to energy would, therefore, offer opportunities for millions of people to contribute more effectively and productively to society.”

According to ESCAP, few Asia-Pacific countries have integrated poverty reduction and environmental protection concerns into national energy policies. Lack of access to energy is a core cause of chronic poverty in developing countries in the region which, in turn, makes it even more difficult to obtain essential energy services, resulting in a vicious cycle of poverty and energy deprivation.

Noting that people facing energy insecurity have no voice in energy policy-making, the Expert Group Meeting agreed on the fundamental need to make energy policies pro-poor, and especially pro-women, in order to ensure universal access to modern energy sources.

Source: http://www.unescap.org/unis/press/2011/sep/g44.asp

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Climate Change and Asian Development Bank

ADB is helping developing countries shift to low-carbon growth and protect those most vulnerable against the expected impacts of climate change. ADB’s long-term strategic framework for 2008-2020 (Strategy 2020) makes tackling climate change part of our core operations. ADB is supporting a comprehensive program of assistance to developing member countries for climate change mitigation and adaptation measures, and mainstreaming of climate change considerations into ADB operations. http://www.adb.org/Documents/Brochures/InFocus/climate-change.asp

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ADB Strengthens Business Processes to Boost Quality, Responsiveness of Work

ADB has begun implementing sweeping new changes to the way it does business to improve the quality and responsiveness of its work. Starting this January, business processes are being streamlined to make them more efficient, to lower transaction costs, and to enable ADB to respond swiftly to client needs. The improvements will help ADB realize the development goals laid out under its long term strategic framework, Strategy 2020, in order to achieve its overarching vision of a region free of poverty. http://www.adb.org/article.asp?id=13133

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Asia must promote employment, support those without decent jobs, ADB says

Creating the conditions for good jobs and, more importantly, social protection programs for those unable to find decent work is an urgent priority for governments in Asia and the Pacific, Asian Development Bank (ADB) Vice President Ursula Schaefer-Preuss told a conference in Ha Noi, Viet Nam. Speaking at the conclusion of a three-day conference titled ”The Impact of the Global Economic Slowdown on Poverty and Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific,” Ms. Schaefer-Preuss said that the recent global economic downturn has cut demand for the exports on which the region’s economies depend, forcing job cuts in many of the industries that send their goods overseas and slashing the incomes of thousands of people in the region. Many may struggle to find alternative employment. ”Before the crisis – in the context of high growth rates – only about half of the region’s young labor entrants could find decent jobs, while the rest had to sustain themselves and their families through the informal sector,” said Ms. Schaefer-Preuss. ”The need for social protection strategies to address the post-crisis labor market becomes more urgent with the prospect that growth rates may not reach the levels of just a few years ago.” The conference, organized by the ADB, together with the governments of Viet Nam and the People’s Republic of China, the ASEAN Secretariat and nine development partners, saw over 350 representatives from ADB, regional governments, civil society, intergovernment organizations and academe discuss the social impact of the global crisis and the need for social policy reforms. http://www.adb.org/Media/Articles/2009/13020-asian-employments-priorities/

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Bleak outlook for developing Asia, but region can cope with crisis, says ADB

Developing Asia’s economic growth will slow in 2009 to its most sluggish pace since the 1997/1998 Asian financial crisis, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) says in a new major report. The Asian Development Outlook 2009 forecasts economic growth in developing Asia will slide to just 3.4% in 2009, down from 6.3% last year and 9.5% in 2007. If the global economy experiences a mild recovery next year, the outlook for the region will improve to 6% in 2010. Deteriorating economic prospects will hinder the efforts to reduce poverty. With the slow growth, more than 60 million people in 2009, and close to 100 million people in 2010, will remain trapped in poverty – living on less than US$1.25 a day – than would have been if growth had continued at its earlier pace. Despite the dismal outlook, the report says that the region is in a much better position to cope with this crisis than it was in 1997/98. http://www.adb.org/projects/project.asp?id=39264

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Financial Crisis Presents Opportunity for Asia, Jeffrey Sachs tells ADB audience

The global economic crisis should be viewed by Asia’s policymakers as an opportunity to expand investment in ”desperately” needed public goods, economist Jeffrey Sachs told an ADB audience.

In a lecture titled ”Achieving Global Cooperation on Economic Recovery and Long-Term Sustainable Development”, Prof. Sachs said that with the drop in external demand for Asian exports, the region will ”have to rely on public spending,” such as infrastructure, health, education and energy reforms.

”Asia needs all of that desperately,” Prof. Sachs said. ”This is still the region of the world with the fastest urbanization, with the most dramatic need for pollution control, for cleaning up the energy sector, for cleaning up the rivers, for sustainable urban development, for accommodating the migration of hundreds of millions of people from rural areas to urban areas. I like to view this crisis as an opportunity for Asia given the chronic underinvestment in public goods. Public spending has a very high social return and also has a very high macroeconomic purpose right now.” http://www.adb.org/article.asp?id=12767

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ADB Approves Measures to Enhance Operations Evaluation Function

The Asian Development Bank’s Board of Directors today approved a series of measures to further enhance the independence and overall effectiveness of ADB’s operations evaluation function.

”These initiatives will further enhance the independence and effectiveness of ADB’s evaluation function and will place it at the forefront of international evaluation practice,” said Executive Director, Mr Phil Bowen, chair of the Working Group which also comprised fellow Executive Directors, Mr Howard Brown and Mr. Wencai Zhang, and ADB Managing Director General, Mr Rajat M. Nag.

The measures include extending the term of the Director General of the Operations Evaluation Department (OED) to five years from three years on a non-renewable basis; and the position to be appointed by ADB’s Board, upon the recommendation of the Development Effectiveness Committee of the Board, in consultation with the ADB President.

The Director General’s performance will be subject to annual review by the Chair of the Development Effectiveness Committee, and the budget of the OED will be approved by ADB’s Board separately from the Bank’s administrative budget. OED would be renamed the Independent Evaluation Department to reflect its enhanced independent status.

Although ADB has a clearly articulated model of independent evaluation that emphasizes organizational and behavioral independence, protection from influence, and the avoidance of conflicts of interest, OED’s credibility as an independent evaluation unit could be further enhanced by the measures, the report said. http://www.adb.org/article.asp?id=12756

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ADB launched Climate Change Fund

ADB has establishing a new fund to slow the onset of climate change and to help the Asia-Pacific region adapt to the expected devastating impact of global warming. ADB will provide an initial $40 million to the Climate Change Fund, which will be open for further contributions from countries, other development organizations, foundations, the private sector and other sources.

”The purpose of the fund is to facilitate greater investments in developing countries in Asia and the Pacific to address the causes and consequences of global warming. Money from the fund will be used to provide grant financing for technical assistance, investment projects, research and other activities, and we welcome interested parties to participate in the fund,” said Mr. Werner Liepach, Principal Director of ADB’s Office of Cofinancing Operations. http://www.adb.org/Media/Articles/2008/12474-asian-climates-changes

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Asian Development Outlook 2008

ADB’s flagship annual publication, Asian Development Outlook 2008 (ADO) shows that favorable policy conditions and impressive productivity growth associated with Asia’s economic modernization and structural transformation will continue to keep the region on a strong growth path. ADO warns that the risk of an inflation spiral in Asia is palpable and urges policymakers to keep a close watch on it. Inflation is expected to rise to 5.1% in 2008 and gradually slide to 4.6% in 2009.

A special theme chapter on ”Workers in Asia” highlights the importance of providing relevant skills and job opportunities for Asia’s burgeoning labor force. Developing Asian countries may fail to reap the ”demographic dividend” if they do not invest in their education and training systems to make them more relevant to the demands of their rapidly modernizing economies, the Asian Development Bank says in the ADO.
http://www.adb.org/Documents/Books/ADO/