Thursday, 13 September 2012

UNIDO organizes round table discussion on the sustainable future of Asia

VIENNA, 13 September 2012 - UNIDO today organized a round table discussion on the sustainable future of Asia which featured prominent development policymakers and practitioners from the region. The event took place at the Austria Center in Vienna.

The event titled, “Asia 2050: the sustainable route to prosperity”, was co-hosted by the Asian Development Bank, the Austrian Research Foundation for International Development, and the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber.

Watch a video about the event

As the most populous continent, Asia is in the middle of a historical transformation. On one hand, Asian countries have begun to move away from decades of low per capita income by consistently achieving high GDP growth rates based on large scale industrialization. The continent now exhibits several high- and many middle-income countries with large internal markets. On the other hand, growth in Asia has not been equitable and inclusive, with the region still accounting for a large share of the world’s extreme poor.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has undertaken an important analysis of the future prospects for Asian growth in its recent report entitled “Asia 2050, realizing the Asian century”. However, the achievement of this scenario could be threatened by the so-called “middle-income trap”, whereby middle-income economies find themselves unable to compete with either low-wage economies or highly skilled advanced ones, arresting the pace of sustainable growth in the long-run.

The report has identified both the risks and the possible solutions to achieve the former and avoid the latter, i.e. through national action agendas, regional cooperation and a global agenda, and various specific measures to be undertaken under each of these headings.

To overcome these challenges and pave the way to improving living standards to current developed country levels by 2050, Asian countries must ensure that their industrial development becomes sustainable and inclusive. This can be done by deepening their industrialization processes, expanding the range of higher-productivity value-adding activities, striving for resource efficiency across all production processes,  ensuring the development of a highly-skilled middle class, and by promoting technology innovation and innovative-economy-oriented education systems.

In cooperation with the ADB, the UNIDO round table discussion provided a unique platform to address these issues and to map out a route for sustained development for Asia.

The event brought together regional experts and policymakers from Asian countries, as well as international practitioners in the field, representatives of industry, regional and international organizations and civil society organizations working in the fields of sustainable development, trade and commerce.

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