News / Asia

UN Calls for Investment in Protections for Asia’s Poorest

Informal settlers play while bathing on a tub in San Juan, Manila. The Philippines is expected to sustain post-crisis economic growth, but this will be without development which may increase poverty, according to a new study from the United Nations, May 2
Informal settlers play while bathing on a tub in San Juan, Manila. The Philippines is expected to sustain post-crisis economic growth, but this will be without development which may increase poverty, according to a new study from the United Nations, May 2

Economists and Asian leaders say basic social protections are key to sheltering Asia’s poorest from financial and environmental shocks that put millions at risk. Officials say increased spending on social programs can be affordable and effective in helping Asia’s poorest lift themselves out of poverty.

United Nations economists say that government-funded social protections such as universal education, basic health care and job programs provide a critical safety net for the millions of impoverished Asians who are most vulnerable to rising food prices and environmental calamities.

The United Nations Economic and Social commission for Asia and the Pacific says that such guarantees give the poor the opportunity to take the risks needed to improve their lives.

UNESCAP officials say the growing trend to urbanization across the region requires a new commitment by governments to institute social protections.

Economists and government officials from Asia are gathered in Bangkok for UNESCAP’s annual meeting.

Monday, at the start of the conference, Bhutan’s Prime Minister Jigme Thinley told delegates that crises in recent years showed that growing concerns social progress should not be based just on narrow competition and economic growth.

Thinley says a “calamitous” decade of crises ranging from ecological and climate change, a financial and economic crisis of 2008, as well as crop failures, health crises, and rising social conflicts all pointed to the need for reform.

“All these crises tell us that there is something grievously wrong in the way human society conducts itself. They warn us that our way of life as dictated by market forces that are guided not so much by sense and sensibility as are insatiable greed - is not sustainable, responsible or just. Unless we mend our ways things are just going to get worse,” said Thinley.

Asia’s economic export growth model over the past 30 years has succeeded in lifting millions out of poverty, with gains in China a major contributor to reducing poverty levels across the region. But analysts say the growth has come at social and welfare costs, especially through pollution, the loss of forestry habitat and a widening of income disparities.

Thinley says intense business competition high rates of consumption resulting in the depletion of natural resources posed a threat to democratic systems of government. "How can democratic systems serve at the community, national and global levels when inequality becomes a reality and when limited resources including water will be in the hands of the strong and the powerful, whose narrative will be one of rivalry and escalating conflicts? But the more I think of our future, the more I’m convinced that we need to change,” he said.

Thinley blamed the standard measure for economic growth - gross national product - as being used as a “singular indictor” for social progress.

He said societies need to adopt a broader measure of economic progress, marked by Bhutan’s measure gross national happiness. The GNH measure also takes into account the GDP measure but also looks at governance standards, culture and the environment.

You May Like

Beijing Warns Hong Kong Protesters, Cracks Down at Home

In suppressing protest news, China reportedly has arrested more than 20 people on the mainland who acted in support of Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters More

Competing Goals Could Frustrate Efforts to Fight Islamic State

As alliances shift and countries re-define themselves, analysts say long-standing goals of some key players in Middle East may soon compete with Western goals More

Child Sexual Exploitation to Worsen in SE Asia

Southeast Asia’s planned economic integration is a key step for boosting the region’s productivity, but carries downsides as well More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid