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After 50 years, Asian Development Bank looks ahead

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Takehiko Nakao, president of ADB, speaks during the organisation’s annual meeting held in Yokohama, Japan. Photo supplied

After 50 years, Asian Development Bank looks ahead

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) set out its strategy for the next decade during the launch of its 50th annual meeting in Japan over the weekend, while also recognising the challenges that remain for the 300 million people still living in poverty in Asia.

Addressing the 6,000 officials, academics, business leaders and civil society representatives attending the meeting, ADB President Takehiko Nakao praised the bank’s performance over the past 50 years, during which it combined knowledge and finance while fostering regional cooperation.

He also mapped out the future direction of the institution, which will be led by its Strategy 2030 and includes addressing issues of climate change, urbanisation, ageing demographics and widening inequalities.

“The ADB continues to hold consultations on the strategy with a wide range of stakeholders from around the region and in donor countries,” Nakao said.

He added that co-financing and technical assistance funding had reached a total of $31.7 billion over the past 50 years in 2016, while loans and grants increased by 9 percent last year to reach a total of $17.5 billion. Climate finance increased by close to $1 billion, increasing to $3.7 billion at the end of last year, and public private partnership co-financing grew to $13.9 billion.

Japanese Crown Prince Naruhito spoke at the ADB annual meeting opening session, saying that 50 years ago, when the ADB held its first annual meeting, the Asia Pacific region was one of the poorest in the world. He noted that over the past half century countries in the region have made significant progress in terms of economic development and poverty reduction.

“There are, however, still over 300 million people living in poverty in this region, and poverty reduction through sustainable and inclusive growth remains an important agenda to us,” he said. “I hope that the bank will further play an important role in addressing these issues.”

Naruhito added that the region needed to address challenges related to infrastructure, power supply networks and transportation. Climate change and natural disasters mitigation were also pressing issues, he said.

Taro Aso, Japan’s deputy prime minister and finance minister, commended the bank for its achievements over the past 50 years.

He encouraged the ADB to continue to play a central role in regional development, adding: “Japan remains firmly committed to working hard for the development of the Asia-Pacific region, in close cooperation with the bank.”

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