2006: Volume 37
Asia has witnessed an unprecedented period of growth and poverty reduction over the past decade. By 2015 absolute poverty in Asia could be halved and eradicated altogether a decade later. But while there are strong prospects for continued progress these are by no means assured. Asian countries face a number of challenges which could throw growth and poverty reduction off-track (despite emerging global players like China and India). Growth alone cannot eradicate poverty without public action by governments in the region to tackle problems of exclusion, marginalisation and the threat of rising inequality.
This IDS Bulletin brings together ten articles that examine threats to sustained growth and suggest ways in which potential challenges might best be mitigated through conscious policy choice and public action under the leadership of Asian governments. Three common threads underpin the articles: recognition that the solutions and policies for mitigating risk and building on opportunities emanate primarily from the region; and that national governments are the key actors in developing innovative ideas, formulating policies, and raising and deploying resources. Lastly and importantly, potential for developing enduring partnerships (with the private sector, non-governmental organisations, donors and multilateral financial institutions). This IDS Bulletin (and the companion issue of Development Policy Review) highlight a range of ways that intensified cooperation can help to sustain further progress in the coming decade.
Over the past few years, the development challenges faced by fragile states have moved to the top of the international development agenda. This has reflected an apparent increase in the number of fragile states in the world over the past two decades. Since the end of the Cold War, some powerful states have been much less willing and able to support and maintain weaker states, making the latter vulnerable to failure or even collapseAt the same time, globalisation has created a range of economic, political and security-related pressures that have overwhelmed many weaker states.
Combined with internal political, social and economic conditions that make countries vulnerable to the onset of civil war and economic collapse all this has dramatically increased the incidence of state fragility in the developing world. Many international development organisations have responded to feelings of insecurity in the West since the terrorist attack on the USA on 11 September 2001, and subsequent attacks elsewhere, by making improved conditions in fragile states one of their key goals.
This IDS Bulletin explores how these organisations might most effectively do so. It examines factors that have shaped development 'turnaround' outcomes in seven current and former fragile states, examines the role of donors in these countries, and assesses the implications of findings for donor strategies for engaging in fragile states. The terms 'fragile states' and 'turnaround' here refer to particular development outcomes rather than the supposed quality of countries' governance, policies and institutions.
Not for the first time, real events have caught the research community by surprise. From the late twentieth century Asian economies began to play an increasingly important role as global producers, beginning in Japan after the 1960s, and spreading to some other East Asian economies during the last quarter of the century.
At the dawn of the new millennium, the momentum of Asia has been significantly strengthened by the very rapid growth of two very large economies: China and India. But this time, so significant is the rapidly unfolding entry of these countries into global markets, that the policy costs of the research-gap are particularly high. Hitherto, recognition of the consequences of the rise of these newly dynamic Asian economies (The Asian Drivers) has almost entirely been confined to the high-income economies.
But what are the impacts likely to be on poor countries, and poor communities in poor countries? How might the opportunities opened-up by the rise of the Asian Drivers be grasped and the threats which they pose be minimised for those countries which comprise the majority of the world's population, but account for a minority of global GDP?
In November 2004 and May 2005, a team of researchers from IDS met with various networks of researchers to begin outlining a networked and policy-focused research programme addressing the impact of the Asian Drivers on low-income economies. This IDS Bulletin draws on participant contributions to advance the research agenda. It questions the impact that Asian Drivers will have on the developing world, a particularly apposite point given the commitment of the global community to halve the incidence of global poverty by 2015.