Editor: Rana Qaisar   
Founding Editor: Shafqat Munir   


13 Julie 2010 06:07:27

MANILA, PHILIPPINES, July 13, 2010: Poverty and illiteracy rates have been slashed but governments in East and Southeast Asia need to speed up health and environment improvements to meet the looming 2015 deadline for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Asia Development Bank (ADB), UNDP and UNESCAP said at a forum in Shanghai today.

ADB, ADB Institute (ADBI), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) and Shanghai Jiaotong University are holding the joint forum to examine the sub-region’s progress on MDGs, and to look at actions needed to address problem areas.

“East and Southeast Asia have already achieved 11 of the 21 MDG indicators but governments must step up efforts on maternal health, child mortality, and environmental sustainability, including forest cover, to achieve all MDGs by the target date,” said Ursula Schaefer- Preuss, ADB’s Vice President for Knowledge Management.

Widening gaps in income and development between countries, regions within countries, and urban and rural communities, are also setting back progress on MDGs and need to be addressed, the forum said.

“The consequences of these disparities ― further aggravated by the uncertain prospect of the global economy and combined effects of the global food, climate, energy and economic crises ― are that improvements in the lives of the poorest are happening at an unacceptably slow pace and in some cases, hard fought gains are being eroded,” said Nicholas Rosellini, Deputy Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific, UNDP.

To help meet MDG targets, the forum urged governments to promote domestic demand, prioritize the supply of basic services, and expand social safety nets for vulnerable groups including, women and the unemployed. The need for greater regional cooperation was also highlighted in areas such as trade in food, and expanded monetary and financial ties.

Recommendations from the forum will be taken to the UN MDG Summit in New York in September where the tripartite partnership of ADB, UNDP and UNESCAP will launch the 2010 Regional MDG Report, and present’s Asia’s voice on the goals.

2010 markets the 10th anniversary of the UN Millennium Summit where 189 heads of state agreed on the MDGs which include halving extreme poverty, providing universal primary education, improving gender equity, and halting the spread of HIV/AIDS, all by the target date of 2015.

“As we all know, the performance of the region in achieving the MDGs has been rather mixed with many countries finding difficult challenges in meeting the targets by 2015. In that context, the region could harness its vast financial resources to close the gaps,” said Nagesh Kumar, Director, Macroeconomic Policy and Development Division, UNESCAP. “People’s Republic of China is a world leader in achieving MDGs and we believe it has a lot of good experiences to share in this forum,” Mr. Kumar added.This latest sub-regional forum by ADB, ADBI, UNESCAP and UNDP follows previous consultations in the Pacific, South Asia and Central Asia.

ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members – 48 from the region. In 2009, it approved a total of $16.1 billion in financing operations through loans, grants, guarantees, a trade finance facilitation program, equity investments, and technical assistance projects. ADB also mobilized cofinancing amounting to $3.2 billion.

UNDP is the UN's global development network, an organization advocating for change and connecting countries to knowledge, experience and resources to help people build a better life. We are on the ground in 166 countries, working with them on their own solutions to global and national development challenges.

ESCAP is the regional development arm of the United Nations and serves as the main economic and social development centre for the United Nations in Asia and the Pacific. It supports Governments in the region in consolidating regional positions and advocates regional approaches to meeting the region’s unique socio-economic challenges.