ADB annual meeting 2013: Empowerment but no ASEAN+3

The Asian Development Bank logo at the bank's headquarters in Manila. Photo by: Eliza Villarino / Devex

The 46th Annual Meeting of the Asian Development Bank’s Board of Governors opens on May 2 under the theme ‘Development through Empowerment’ but with tension over the ASEAN+3 finance ministers’ meeting cancelled over politics.

Delegates started trickling into New Delhi on Wednesday ahead of the event, to be attended by over 4,400 participants from civil society, governments, international institutions and businesses from the bank’s member countries.

Under the theme “Development Through Empowerment,” the two-day meeting of the Board of Governors discuss knowledge-sharing and partnership forums, civil society programs, and the yearly seminar “Beyond Factory Asia: Fueling Growth in a Changing World.”

The empowerment agenda will center around talks on “how vulnerable groups can better access economic opportunities and social services like health and education” to stem inequality in the Asia Pacific region, the ADBsaid in a statement.

Among the high-profile attendees will be some familiar faces — including African Development Bank President Donald Kaberuka, Vice President of Inter-American Development Bank Santiago Levy Algazi and International Monetary Fund Deputy Managing Director Naoyuki Shinohara — as well as new personalities, mainly recently elected new ADB President Takehiko Nakao.

Much of the activities will be centered on discussing the bank’s increased engagement of the private sector, and a heightened emphasis on regional collaboration, development cooperation, public-private partnerships and Myanmar.

In addition, ADB officials will also discuss during the numerous forums and programs renewed focus on accountability and on financing infrastructure, disaster risk management, sustainable development, urbanization and food security. Click here for the full list of events.

ASEAN+3 meeting cancelled

Slashed from the agenda however is the trilateral dialogue between the finance ministers of China, Japan and South Korea — (ASEAN +3) that has been hosted annually by ADB since 1997.

Over all these years the ASEAN +3 have pooled efforts to tackle food and energy security, disaster management, the development gap, rural development, poverty alleviation, social welfare, human trafficking, labor, communicable diseases, environment and sustainable development.

Despite reaching a milestone last year when the central bank governors of the three Asian economic heavyweights joined the dialogue for the first time, China has cancelled this year’s talks due to territorial and diplomatic disputes between the three countries.

Last week, a visit by Japanese lawmakers to a shrine that honors World War II in Tokyo upset China and South Korea, which viewed the act as a symbol of Japan’s lack of repentance for its past colonization acts in the region. There are also ongoing conflicts between Japan and China and between Japan and South Korea over separate groups of islands in the East China Sea.

The trilateral economic dialogue will presumably continue to be affected by these tensions until the disputes subside.

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About the author

  • Johanna Morden

    Johanna Morden is a community development worker by training and a global development journalist by profession. As a former Devex staff writer based in Manila, she covered the Asian Development Bank as well as Asia-Pacific's aid community at large. Johanna has written for a variety of international publications, covering social issues, disasters, government, ICT, business, and the law.