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Less than 12 months later there were two. Was this a sheer coincidence or had the Bank finally recognised that addressing gender inequality in Asia starts at home or, in this case, headquarters? The ratio of female to male vice presidents has usually been one to six and very occasionally two to six. This is a pervasive trend throughout the organisation, where professional female staff have remained stuck at around 30 per cent of all ADB professionals for the past decade. There has never been a female president. Of course, no one strategy by any single institution is going to close the gender equality gap which persists across Asia where there are cultural and economic gender biases in favour of men.

These are the women who were never born because they were aborted before birth or murdered shortly after birth simply because they were female. Economist Amartya Sen estimated in the early s that there were more than million women missing across Asia. Aside from this culturally condoned human rights travesty, poverty is more often than not a burden carried by women. And while the global rate of extreme poverty is falling, it is increasing among women and girls in the rural areas of developing Asia as men go to the cities to find work leaving the women behind to take care of the farm and family.

Evidence abounds about the importance of valuing women and girls as much as men and boys, not just because it is the right thing to do, but because of the flow-on positive effects this has for the prosperity and stability of communities and society as a whole. For the past ten years, at any one time, there has rarely been more than three women on the board.

For the ADB to be true to its own stated mission of reducing poverty across the region, one of the first priorities along this pathway has to be addressing the poverty of women and girls.

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This requires not just a program strategy and action plan, but a whole-of-Bank effort to address its own biases, in management and members alike. As one senior civil society representative noted:. ADB is operating at the macro level and CSOs are at the grassroots where the poor are living so they should be talking to us to get the full picture. Overall, the majority view was that the focus should still be on poverty reduction.

As one senior ADB official stated:. But absolute numbers of poor are still larger than Africa. And the middle-income trap is very real and hard to solve. Clearly there is a role for ADB.

Long-term care in the 21st century : perspectives from around the Asia-Pacific rim - EconBiz

Another developed country member representative wanted the ADB to take a stronger role in health, with a particular emphasis on regional health security. There was also a view that in addressing the underlying causes of the growing trend in inequality, it was essential for the ADB to take a greater role in supporting health and education in the region. Infrastructure was generally viewed as a top issue for the ADB. But while there was some anecdotal discussion about the ADB meeting just 2 per cent of the infrastructure gap, a private sector stakeholder saw the real problem being the lack of bankable projects:.

So it is the role of the ADB, as a knowledge bank, to help them in this area. Environment, human settlement, and the rules of governance are essential. ADB should continue to take a critical role in maintaining global standards of doing business. This is where ADB has a strong role to play because it is trusted and neutral and has established good relations bilaterally.

Climate change and the environment more generally were identified across the board as a major priority for the ADB.

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The ADB is seen as being in a prominent position to focus on climate change and bring the private sector along. Some argued, however, that the ADB should be considering carefully what comparative advantage it brings to this issue, given the number of global climate change funding mechanisms that already exist. Overall, the majority of stakeholders held the view that the three big priorities for the Bank remained the eradication of poverty and responding to the rising economic inequalities within countries; environment and climate change; and infrastructure and connectivity.

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There was a strong understanding of the inherent linkages between them. As one NGO stakeholder noted: climate change and environmental pollution combined with bad infrastructure will only contribute to poverty. A big question that remains for the Bank is how far it should move further into the social sectors of health and education.

There is no doubt that the social and economic development of a nation is dependent on the health and education of its people. But for a bank operating with limited resources, venturing more deeply into these sectors would mean there would be fewer available resources for their core business. The Bank is respected across the region for maintaining and upholding development safeguards and protocols to ensure sustainable and appropriate investments.

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The ADB remains an important banker of public goods. This is despite their core contribution to good development outcomes. However, the ADB can improve its own performance and adopt more innovative, faster, and flexible mechanisms. This will be dealt with in the next chapter.

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The ADB has prioritised inclusive and environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. There is inequality not just in incomes but also education, housing, and access to services. There are pockets of extreme poor within countries — in lagging regions or excluded populations. Climate change is already affecting Asia and the environmental damage from rapid urbanisation and industrialisation is clear. Asia will have to monitor its food security and prepare for natural disasters. These issues intersect with the slowing economic pace of some countries and important demographic shifts across the region.

Fifty years ago Asia was one of the poorest regions in the world, with most nations facing limited options for obtaining development finance both domestically and internationally. ODA and lending from MDBs was the primary source of external support and the development landscape was relatively homogenous.

Since then, the amount of foreign aid available has increased dramatically.

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  • In that time the development sector has matured, but has also become more complex, with new actors and lending modalities. In , there were 14 bilateral and three multilateral agencies engaged in development assistance activities in the world, including ADB member countries.

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    Today there are 29 bilateral and 38 multilateral agencies engaged in ADB member countries, with hundreds more vertical and multilateral funds operating around the world, and countless NGOs, non-traditional donors, and philanthropic organisations engaged throughout the region.

    This chapter will discuss how rapidly development finance in Asia has evolved over the past 50 years, and the role infrastructure has had, and will continue to play, in the region.


    It will highlight that while Asia has developed at a startling rate, the demand for quality infrastructure in the region is still significant. Building on the context established in Chapters 1 and 2, this chapter will then explore ways in which the ADB is adapting to a new role in the 21st century, exploring elements such as the merging and expanding of lending activities, who the ADB lends to, graduation, changing lending modalities, and the role of knowledge within the Bank.

    Foreign aid flows in Asia have been dramatically overshadowed by the growth of other domestic and external sources of finance. As countries throughout Asia have developed, their ability to mobilise domestic resources has improved, enabling more domestic-led investment. Since , international capital flows to Asia have increased dramatically thanks to better macroeconomic conditions greater fiscal buffers, sustained economic growth, low inflation rates , improved domestic policy frameworks and implementation, and greater appetite for risk from international investors.

    These rapidly growing sources of finance now dwarf foreign aid. However, considering that 3. Figure 9: Share of international financing streams to all member countries, vs The decline in the relevance of conventional development finance has had significant ramifications for the ADB. In , that number is down to 1 per cent. Over that time, foreign aid as a whole has fallen from a 30 per cent share of the inflows of foreign aid, remittances, and FDI to just 1. The economic growth that has opened up these financial resources has pulled hundreds of millions of people out of poverty.

    With the ADB now contributing such a finite amount of development finance to its member countries, donors may start to wonder why the ADB is needed at all. It is important also to recognise, however, that the supply of development finance is only one half of the equation. As Asia continues to rapidly develop and urbanise, the demand for quality public infrastructure is vastly outstripping supply. Because of the public goods nature of most infrastructure investment, many sources of external finance, such as FDI, remittances, and portfolio equity will not fill the gap.

    Rising public debt in many countries in Asia such as India, Indonesia, and the Philippines will constrain public infrastructure investment, compounded by limited private sector participation and a lack of long-term capital market financing. Multilateral development finance in this context is critical not just because of the funding it can provide, but also because of the unique mandate the ADB enjoys. While loans from the ADB represent a declining proportion of overall resources to the region, they are unique in their ability to target poverty reduction and investment in public goods that are not feasible for most types of external finance. In interviews with the authors, a number of stakeholders from member countries, the private sector, and academia argued that the Bank, with its experience, expertise, and reputation, has a critical role to play in meeting the infrastructure needs of the region by: helping to establish a pipeline of bankable projects in the region; assisting governments to reform regulatory environments to unlock broader investment; providing critical technical expertise to member countries; working across borders and in critical cross-regional infrastructure initiatives; and acting as an honest broker in international forums throughout the region.

    These contributions are perceived by many of those interviewed to have more impact in the region than the direct spending of the ADB itself. With diverse financing options in the region, the Bank is under pressure to evolve and adapt to this new context. It will have to be more nimble and more reactive to recipient needs in order to remain an attractive partner in the region.