The Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Monday urged developing member countries (DMCs) to implement policies that will address the poverty situation, health crisis, climate change and the increasing number of domestic violence during the pandemic.

“Quite regrettably, I have to say that the income inequality situation and also the absolute poverty situation will surely get worsened. That needs to be urgently addressed by everybody,” said ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa during the 54th Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors.

Asakawa said that while DMCs are trying to address these poverty issues by enhancing their social protection programs included in their counter-cyclical, fiscal spending policies, in the long-term, are what are needed for the poor to participate in the recovery process by securing high-quality jobs.

“And from our point of view as an international financial institution, what is really needed to that end is to invest more and more in human beings. And more concretely, more investment in the education sector and health sector. Those sectors are very, very significant to ensure that our growth pattern is more inclusive and sustainable,” he said.

Aside from poverty, the ADB chief also cited the need to address the increasing number of domestic violence because of the pandemic.

“Unfortunately, still women and girls are among the most severely affected groups by this pandemic. Once again, I noticed that every developing country’s governments are trying to address these issues, by for example, including appropriate policy measures, such as unconditional cash transfer and/or food subsidies to women and girls in vulnerable households,” said Asakawa.

Addressing social issues

“We are really supporting that kind of policy orientation to address this issue. But at the same time, one thing we should not forget is the fact that one of the devastating consequences of this pandemic is the increased number of domestic violence as you rightly mentioned. Domestic violence has been triggered by this pandemic, but even worsened by the prolonged lockdown measures, which have forced the victims to stay with abusers with little access to help,” he added.

He said the ADB has been discussing with DMC governments to secure necessary resources for this kind of gender-based violence support program.

Asakawa said countries should also strengthen regional health security.

“I can think of a couple of areas where we can enhance our regional cooperation efforts.

For example, first, we could try to diversify our regional supply chains to complement global supply chains to make the whole system more robust and resilient. Secondly, we should really enhance our regional health security under the current pandemic, and even under the future pandemic. For example, surveillance exercise, monitoring, reporting,” said Asakawa.

He said these can be done jointly by the neighboring countries in the same region and vaccination can be also conducted jointly, mainly because of its nature of public goods.

“And thirdly, we can consider strengthening our regional financial safety net,” he said.

For climate change, Asakawa said economies in the Asia-Pacific region which is accountable for almost 50 percent of carbon dioxide gas emissions, should aim for a green recovery.

“Needless to say, this is the year of COP26 (2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference). ADB together with other MDBs (multilateral development bank) has committed to align our operation with the Paris Agreement through a couple of measures. First, by aligning each of our operations to either mitigation or adaptation target of the Paris Agreement. Second by ramping up our climate financing. And thirdly by enhancing our capacity-building efforts in DMCs in this context,” he said.

He said that under the Strategy 2030 ADB have introduced two concrete numerical targets.

“The first target says by 2030, at least 75 percent of our total operation in number should address adaptation and/or mitigation.The second numerical target says that between the year 2019 and 2030, for those 12 years, we should aim at providing climate financing with the amount of $80 billion cumulatively,” he said

“Secondly, talking of our endeavor to enhance our capacity-building activities in our DMCs, another thing we’re trying to do is to provide necessary advice and resources to let DMC economy less and less dependent on fossil fuels, by setting standards and regulations and also by introducing low-carbon and climate-resilient technology such as renewable energy storage, smart grids and such as carbon capture,” added Asakawa.