Investments in education, health and climate response needed for an ‘even stronger’ economic rebound
Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 5) – Developing countries like the Philippines should invest more in health, education and climate change response to bounce back from the deep scars caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Asian Development Bank has said.
In his closing remarks to the 54th Annual Governors Meeting on Wednesday, AfDB President Masatsugu Asakawa said member states should also close the gaps in gender, income and digital connectivity to keep pace with demands for the new world economy.
“I believe the path we have mapped out will help pull our region out of these uncertain times, and I am determined to do my part to make it happen,” said Asakawa. “If we stay on this path, I am convinced that the region will emerge from the current crisis even stronger than before.”
The AfDB has cut its growth forecast for the Philippines to 4.5% “fragile” this year from 6.5% previously, as the country struggles to contain COVID-19 infections. This is a reversal from the 9.6% contraction last year. Meanwhile, developing Asia will experience a stronger rebound and is expected to grow 7.3% from the previous projection of 6.8%, building on progress in vaccine deployments and the resumption of the global demand.
Investments in high-quality and sustainable digital infrastructure would enable a “smart” reconstruction of economies, added the AfDB chief, which should be largely supported by greater collection of domestic taxes rather than reliance on foreign borrowing. .
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Asakawa also announced that he would seek re-election as President of the AfDB in November. He has been running the bank since January last year to fill the remaining term of former President Takehiko Nakao, who resigned from the Manila-based institution.
He pledged that the regional lender will speak out by fostering greater regional cooperation and having a more inclusive board.
Coal is still going
Asakawa also said member states should “put ambitious climate actions at the center of development”.
The regional lender, however, is yet to declare a blanket ban on financing electricity projects from coal and fossil fuels despite campaigns to slow global warming. Roger Fischer, one of the AfDB’s executive directors, said there was “not yet full consensus” among board members on how to exit the fossil fuel portfolio.
In a separate session, civic groups called on the AfDB to stop lending to so-called “dirty” energy sources in accordance with the Paris Global Agreement on Climate Change which aims to keep temperatures rising annually. at 1.5 degrees Celsius.
“The AfDB must once and for all declare its full commitment to stop new investments and to disengage from existing investments in fossil fuel power generation projects, related infrastructure and projects along the chain. supply, ”said Avril de Torres, head of the Center for Energy Ecology and Development Research, Policy and Law Program.
The Climate Action Network added that money for coal-fired power plants “has no place in a climate emergency.” Instead, funding should be given to renewable energy projects.
Asia-Pacific is said to contribute the most to carbon emissions, resulting in higher global temperatures. Experts added that people living in countries vulnerable to natural disasters like the Philippines are more likely to be displaced and pushed into deeper poverty.
Coal and natural gas projects represent two thirds of the country’s energy mix.
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