Connect with us

News

ADB’s New Long-Term Strategy Strengthens Support to Pakistan

Published

on

ADB Director General for Strategy, Policy, and Review Department Mr. Tomoyuki Kimura sharing key policy directions of ADB’s new corporate strategy and its importance to Pakistan’s development agenda at a press briefing in Islamabad today. Photo: ADB

A senior official at the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Mr. Tomoyuki Kimura, outlined key policy directions of ADB’s new corporate strategy and its importance to Pakistan’s development agenda at a press briefing in Islamabad today.

During his 2-day visit, Mr. Kimura, the Director General of ADB’s Strategy, Policy, and Review Department, met with Pakistan’s Finance Minister Asad Umar, and briefed senior government officials of the Ministry of Finance, Economic Affairs Division, Ministry of Planning, Pakistan Business Council, State Bank of Pakistan in Islamabad and Karachi.

ADB’s long-term strategic framework, Strategy 2030, introduced in July, responds to the evolving economic conditions in Asia and the Pacific and resolves to strengthen its country-focused approach, including support to Pakistan’s development agenda.

“Strategy 2030 enables ADB to better respond to Pakistan’s changing development needs. ADB shares the Government of Pakistan’s vision to accelerate sustainable and inclusive economic growth by promoting innovative technologies and delivering development solutions through a mix of public and private sector operations,” said Mr. Kimura. “ADB supports Pakistan’s agenda of diversifying exports to revitalize the economy and generate jobs. The strategy provides ADB with the framework and tools to tailor development finance, knowledge, and partnerships to specific country needs.”

Mr. Kimura noted Pakistan’s growth prospects. Pakistan’s strategic location presents vast opportunities to expand regional economic and market integration. The country needs to continue to improve key infrastructure, energy supply, domestic resource mobilization, and the cost of doing business to ensure higher levels of competitiveness and productivity, and to link up with the global production networks and value chains.

Mr. Kimura encouraged Pakistan to resolve structural impediments to economic development through reforms that revive and diversify exports. He said Pakistan needs to improve skills and labor market efficiency; enhance financial inclusion and deepening; and promote greater infrastructure, private sector and foreign direct investment, and trade integration.

Under Strategy 2030, ADB will focus on seven operational priorities: (i) addressing remaining poverty and reducing inequalities; (ii) accelerating progress in gender equality; (iii) tackling climate change, building climate and disaster resilience, and enhancing environmental sustainability; (iv) making cities more livable; (v) promoting rural development and food security; (vi) strengthening governance and institutional capacity; and (vii) fostering regional cooperation and integration.

Infrastructure investments—particularly sustainable, environmentally friendly investments—will remain a priority. At least 75% of ADB’s operations in Asia and the Pacific will support climate change mitigation and adaptation by 2030. Climate finance is expected to reach $80 billion by 2030. At the same time, ADB will expand operations in social sectors, such as education, health, and social protection, and increase its emphasis on promoting gender equality through its projects.

ADB will also expand and diversify its private sector operations to reach one-third of ADB operations by 2024.

“We will expand our private sector operations in new and frontier markets, such as fragile and conflict-affected situations and small-island developing states. We will also support more public-private partnerships and cofinancing,” said Mr. Kimura.

ADB will continue to prioritize support for the region’s poorest and most vulnerable countries. It will apply differentiated approaches to meet the diverse needs of various groups of countries: fragile and conflict-affected situations, small-island developing states, low-income and lower middle-income countries, and upper middle-income countries. Across these country groups, ADB will prioritize support for lagging areas and pockets of poverty and fragility.

The overarching goal of Strategy 2030 is to reduce extreme poverty and achieve a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific. Formulated with extensive region-wide multi-stakeholder consultations and internal review processes, the strategy also outlines plans to modernize business processes, expand its products and instruments, and strengthen its human resources to ensure stronger, better, and faster operations.

Continue Reading
Comments

Environment

2021 joins top 7 warmest years on record

Published

on

Last year joined the list of the seven warmest years on record, the UN weather agency said on Wednesday, and was also the seventh consecutive year when the global temperature has been more than 1°C above pre-industrial levels; edging closer to the limit laid out under the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

Although average global temperatures were temporarily cooled by the 2020-2022 La Niña events, 2021 was still one of the seven warmest years on record, according to six leading international datasets consolidated by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

Global warming and other long-term climate change trends are expected to continue as a result of record levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the agency said.

The average global temperature in 2021 was about 1.11 (± 0.13) °C above the pre-industrial era levels. The Paris Agreement calls for all countries to strive towards a limit of 1.5°C of global warming through concerted climate action and realistic Nationally Determined Contributions – the individual country plans that need to become a reality to slow down the rate of heating.

WMO said that it uses six international datasets “to ensure the most comprehensive, authoritative temperature assessment”, and the same data are used in its authoritative annual State of the Climate reports.

Since the 1980s, each decade has been warmer than the previous one, said WMO and “this is expected to continue.”

The warmest seven years have all been since 2015; the top three being 2016, 2019 and 2020. An exceptionally strong El Niño event occurred in 2016, which contributed to record global average warming.

“Back-to-back La Niña events mean that 2021 warming was relatively less pronounced compared to recent years. Even so, 2021 was still warmer than previous years influenced by La Niña”, said WMO Secretary-General, Prof. Petteri Taalas.

Undeniable trend

“The overall long-term warming as a result of greenhouse gas increases, is now far larger than the year-to-year variability in global average temperatures caused by naturally occurring climate drivers”.

The year 2021 will be remembered for a record-shattering temperature of nearly 50°C in Canada, comparable to the values reported in the hot Saharan Desert of Algeria, exceptional rainfall, and deadly flooding in Asia and Europe as well as drought in parts of Africa and South America”, the WMO chief added.

Climate change impacts and weather-related hazards had life-changing and devastating impacts on communities on every single continent”, Mr. Taalas underscored.

Others key indicators of global heating include greenhouse gas concentrations, ocean heat content, ocean pH levels (levels of acidity), global mean sea level, glacial mass and the extent of sea ice.

WMO uses datasets – which are based on monthly climatological data from observing sites and ships and buoys in global marine networks – developed and maintained by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (NASA GISS), the United Kingdom’s Met Office Hadley Centre, and the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit (HadCRUT); and the Berkeley Earth group.

WMO also uses reanalysis datasets from the European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasts and its Copernicus Climate Change Service, and the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA).

WMO said that the temperature figures will be incorporated into its final report on the State of the Climate in 2021, which will be issued in April this year.

This will reference all key climate indicators and selected climate impacts, and updates a provisional report issued in October 2021 ahead of the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland.

Continue Reading

Development

India: West Bengal Gets $125 Million to Help Citizens Access Social Protection Services

Published

on

The World Bank’s Executive Board of Directors today approved a $125 million loan to the Government of West Bengal to support the state’s efforts to help poor and vulnerable groups access social protection services.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need to focus on building capabilities of state governments to deliver inclusive and equitable social protection in times of crisis. India’s eastern state of West Bengal runs more than 400 programs that provide social assistance, care services, and jobs. Most of these services are offered through an umbrella platform called Jai Bangla. The West Bengal Building State Capability for Inclusive Social Protection Operation will support these interventions at the state level, with particular focus on vulnerable groups such as women, tribal and scheduled caste households and the elderly, as well as households in the state’s disaster-prone coastal regions.

A recent survey found that while food and in-kind transfers reach most poor and vulnerable households in West Bengal, the coverage of cash transfers is weak. Access to social pensions by elderly, widows and disabled persons, in particular, is also weak due to cumbersome application processes and lack of automated systems for application and eligibility verification.

Over the next four years, the operation will help strengthen the state’s capability to expand coverage and access to social assistance and to deliver cash transfers for the poor and vulnerable through a consolidated social registry.

“With its fast-growing urban population and pockets of urban poor, West Bengal has recognized the need to move from a fragmented, scheme-based social protection system to providing an integrated basket of social protection benefits and services to its most vulnerable citizens,” said Junaid Ahmad, the World Bank’s Country Director in India. “The project will support and strengthen the state’s capability in this area to ensure that it can deliver social protection services — both cash and in-kind — to all its vulnerable citizens.”  

West Bengal faces challenges related to manual data entry, inconsistent beneficiary data across departments, and lack of data storage and data exchange protocols. The operation will help digitize the state’s unified delivery system, the Jai Bangla platform, to help consolidate disparate social assistance programs and speed the delivery of social pensions to vulnerable and poor households.  

The project will also support the creation of a tele-consultation network for social care services, complemented by a cadre of case management workers who can help households with advice on eldercare and links to health services and facilities.

It will also create an institutional platform to improve coordination and effectiveness of government interventions to address the state’s low participation of women in the labor force.

“Lack of coordination among departments leads to duplication of efforts in service delivery. The project will assist in overall system improvements, helping to significantly improve the capacity of the state government to identify beneficiaries faster, track expenditures, and plan and monitor benefit delivery for the vulnerable,” said Shrayana Bhattacharya, Qaiser M. Khan and Ambrish Shahi, World Bank’s task team leaders for the project.

Continue Reading

Development

World Bank Financing Will Strengthen Learning, Access to Education in Cambodia

Published

on

The World Bank today approved financing that, along with a grant from the Global Partnership for Education, will provide US$69.25 million in new funding to help Cambodia improve equitable access to basic education and respond rapidly to crises affecting the education system.

The World Bank will provide a US$60 million credit through its International Development Association while the Global Partnership for Education will deliver a grant of US$9.25 million.

The funding will support the five-year General Education Improvement Project (GEIP), which aims to support Cambodia in achieving the vision outlined in its Education Strategic Plan (ESP 2019-2023), which seeks to “establish and develop human resources that are of the very highest quality and are ethically sound in order to develop a knowledge-based society.” To realize this objective, the government of Cambodia has expressed a commitment to address two main challenges: low student learning outcomes and inequitable access to quality basic education, which includes early childhood, primary, and secondary education.

“Cambodia has certainly made great achievements in expanding access to education, but equitable access to education for certain groups of children, such as those living in remote areas, coming from poor families or ethnic minority communities, and those living with disabilities, remains an issue. Further, student learning outcomes have been greatly affected by the prolonged school closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said World Bank Country Manager for Cambodia Maryam Salim. “We strongly hope that the project will address these challenges and build back better.”

This funding comes at a crucial time, with the new COVID-19 variant worsening the pandemic’s impact on education systems around the world,” said Global Partnership for Education CEO Alice P. Albright. “We hope these funds will allow Cambodia to continue increasing access to quality education and ensure that the most vulnerable children are in school and learning.”

The project’s key activities will include implementing a school-based management program, providing capacity development to teachers, school leaders, teacher trainers, and educational staff, and improving learning environments. The project calls for construction and rehabilitation of school buildings, science laboratories, teacher training institutions, dormitories for teachers, and special education schools; purchase of education technology equipment; and support for students with disabilities, including disability screening. The project will also include a pilot education technology (EdTech) program for mathematics.

One of the goals of the project is to improve the education sector’s overall performance by building national capacity for education reform programs, revising subsector strategies, piloting continuous professional development, and creating a teaching career pathway. The project will also aim to facilitate the development of the 2024–2028 Education Strategic Plan and hold annual “Best Practice Forums.”

Continue Reading

Publications

Latest

Trending