Some countries in the South Asia and Pacific region are experiencing a rapid increase in the number of working-age people. This will create some opportunities as it will contribute to reducing the dependency ratio and increasing the possibilities for social cohesion policies. But if these people fail to find decent jobs, then per capita income may slow down. With less income, people face lower living standards and difficulties accumulating capital and assets. For young people, these changes potentially bring significant challenges. Take, for example, youth in Cambodia.
By Kensuke Tanaka, Head of Asia Desk, and Prasiwi Ibrahim, Economist at Asia Desk, OECD Development Centre
Agreeing on the need for new infrastructure is one thing; finding a sustainable way to finance it is another. According to the ADB, an estimated USD 26 trillion (or USD 1.7 trillion per year) will need to be invested in infrastructure in its developing member countries1 between 2016 and 2030 if these economies are to maintain their growth momentum, eradicate poverty and respond to climate change2 .Given the scale of investment needed, countries in the region will not have sufficient funds to meet demand. Indeed, financing infrastructure investment has been a considerable challenge for the region. Political factors can further complicate financing when they lead to the inefficient allocation of public funds. How best to finance infrastructure is, therefore, a key concern for policy makers in the region.
Strong growth – averaging 6.2% per year – is expected in Emerging Asia (Southeast Asia, China and India) over 2017-21, though trends vary across the region. While growth in China is projected to continue slowing, it will still average 6.0% over the medium term, below the 6.7% forecast for 2016. India, on the other hand, will average 7.3% annual growth in the years to 2021. The ten ASEAN member countries together are forecast to average growth of 5.1%, led by the CLM countries (Cambodia, Lao PDR and Myanmar), which will all see annual growth rates above 7%. Amongst the large ASEAN-5 economies, the highest growth rates are projected for Viet Nam (6.2%) and the Philippines (6.1%) over 2017-21. Singapore and Brunei Darussalam are both expected to see growth of 1.8% in the medium term. Private consumption is expected to continue to be an important driver of growth across much of the region, particularly with slow export growth (Figure 1): Continue reading
By Dr. Koki Hirota, Chief Economist, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)
Catastrophic floods and earthquakes have hit Asian cities such as Manila, Bangkok or Kathmandu in recent years more than ever before. Air pollution in Delhi, Dhaka or Beijing has turned more and more dangerous, threatening the lives of residents. All this as the international community agreed on Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 11 to “make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.” Responding to this call, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) decided to allocate 35% of its financial co-operation programme last year to urban development.
Why? Urbanisation in developing countries is happening fast. Ten mega cities of over 10 million people existed in 1990; that number increased to 28 in 2014 and is projected to reach 41 in 2025 (UN ). Urban areas in Shanghai expanded by 8.1% annually between 2000 and 2010 and by 4.0% in Jakarta. Tokyo, in comparison, expanded by 0.2% (World Bank ). Dhaka became a mega city in just 40 years from a population of 1 million. Many other Asian mega cities took only 50 to 70 years to reach that level, which is a much shorter time than what advanced economies experienced.
By Dr Ulrich Kuhlmann, Executive Director Global Operations, CABI
All farmers are affected by pests and diseases attacking their crops, but smallholder farmers and their dependents in low- and middle-income countries are disproportionately affected. To put it in perspective, there are about 500 million smallholder farmers worldwide who feed about 70% of the world’s population. When you cultivate less than a hectare (2.5 acres) of land and rely on your crops for both sustenance and income, fighting pests can become a battle for life and death. International trade and climate change are exacerbating the problem by altering and accelerating the spread of crop pests.
Occasionally, when a particularly destructive pest surfaces, it can make headline news. Last year it was reported that the tomato leaf miner moth (tuta absoluta) was wreaking havoc across Africa, causing USD 5 million of damage in Nigeria alone and driving up the price of tomatoes, a food staple. Earlier this year, the fall armyworm made the news for devastating maize crops from Ghana to South Africa. But for smallholder farmers the battle against pests is a daily struggle, not an intermittent occurrence.
By Poonam Muttreja, Executive Director, Population Foundation of India
“You forced me into marriage. I wanted to study.”
“What difference is that gonna make! Are you going to be the Prime Minister?”
“Yes. I will become the Prime Minister.”
This powerful exchange between key characters in a soap opera demonstrates reel life emulating real life.
In 2011, the Population Foundation of India (PFI) set out to use the soap opera Main Kuch Bhi Kar Sakti Hoon (MKBKSH) or I, A Woman, Can Achieve Anything as the centre of a transmedia initiative that leverages the power of entertainment education to change social norms. At the heart of the soap opera are the struggles and triumphs of Sneha, a doctor working in Mumbai, as she journeys from the city to her village, emotionally torn between family and society, between professional aspirations and personal commitment.
But why pursue entertainment education and what has been the experience?
By Li Wei, President (Minister), Development Research Center of the State Council of China
The increasing economic integration and interdependence of countries around the world constitute the driving force behind common prosperity. In this pursuit, China, as the world’s second largest economy with an economic aggregate exceeding 15% of global GDP, plays a pivotal role. In fact, China’s development will, more or less, impact the development of other countries. So, what is China doing to realise its own domestic development goals that, in turn, can help spur a new round of prosperity for the global economy?
The way forward begins with understanding current realities. China indeed faces some unprecedented challenges. The working age population is in absolute decline as society is aging. Traditional industries, especially low value-added sectors, face serious over-capacity. Ecological and environmental problems challenge the country’s continuous development. Continue reading