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Rising inequality must be addressed in ADB’s 2030 strategy – Oxfam

6 May 2017 – As the Asian Development Bank marks its 50th year, international development organization Oxfam urged the Bank to put the fight against rising inequality central to their future strategy and plans. Following Oxfam’s global report that showed that eight people own the same wealth as the poorest 50 half of the world, the international NGO shined the spotlight on inequality in Asia in a panel during the recently concluded Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors held in Yokohama, Japan.

Although the Asian region has experienced economic growth, the bottom 70 percent have seen their income share fall while the share for the top 10 percent has increased rapidly. In Vietnam, Oxfam found that the country’s richest man earns more in a day than the poorest person earns in 10 years. In Indonesia, an Oxfam study showed that the 4 richest men own as much wealth as the country’s poorest 100 million.

“The ADB is in a critical stage of preparing a long-term strategy (Strategy 2030) that will guide their engagement with member countries,” said Nisha Agrawal, Executive Director of Oxfam India, who moderated the panel. “A  strategy that highlights and addresses the rising inequality is essential in creating a human economy that works for the 99%.  Everyone can play a role in addressing the rising gap between the rich and the poor, and multilateral institutions like the Asian Development Bank must play a role in this.”

“Rising inequality affects long-term growth and can cause social conflicts” acknowledged Asian Development Bank Deputy Director Tomoyuki Kimura. “Promoting inclusion and addressing inequality are important in ADB’s Strategy 2030. Greater interconnectedness and technology innovation presents new opportunities but can also create new vulnerabilities,” said Mr. Kimura

Max Lawson, Oxfam’s policy lead on inequality, underscored the importance of raising taxes by removing tax incentives to corporations and help generate resources for public spending on health, education and social services, which are critical to addressing inequality. “The ADB must make addressing inequality and progressive fiscal policies core elements of its future strategy,” added Mr. Lawson.

Lisa Dacanay, President of the Institute for Social Entrepreneurship in Asia, highlighted the importance of social enterprises as a strategy to promote transformational change in countries, citing stories of successful social enterprises that help improve the lives of women and their families and communities in the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand. “Supporting social enterprises can help make ADB Strategy 2030 work for the poor and women in Asia,” said Dacanay.

Trini Leung, Director General for Oxfam Hong Kong, emphasized the importance of providing fair wages, addressing the gender wage gap and respect for labor rights in the fight against inequality.  “We must not stop at minimum wage. We must work to ensure that workers have living wages so that they are able to benefit from economic growth,” said Ms. Leung.

Rayyan Hassan, Executive Director of the NGO Forum on the ADB, called for greater accountability and transparency in ADB operations. “We have been monitoring the bank for several years now, and we see the need for the ADB to further strengthen its accountability mechanism,” said Mr. Hassan.


About Oxfam

Oxfam is an international confederation of 20 organisations working in more than 90 countries, as part of a global movement for change, to build a future free from the injustice of poverty.  In Asia, Oxfam works in 14 countries: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Laos, Tajikistan, Timor Leste, and Vietnam.


About Oxfam’s “Even it Up” campaign

The gap between rich and poor is out of control. Oxfam’s global ‘Even it up’ campaign aims to do something about it. Over the coming months and years, Oxfam will be taking on governments and big business to make sure they deliver the real change needed to reverse the trend of rising inequality.


About ADB’s Road to 2030

ADB is beginning to prepare its new long-­term strategy leading to 2030. The strategy will outline a vision and key directions for ADB’s engagement with developing member countries (DMCs). The strategy preparation will follow a fully consultative process involving ADB staff, Management, Board, and shareholders. Extensive consultations with DMC officials, private sector, and civil society are also being organized.


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