ADB's plans to make itself more relevant, responsive and effective

Asian Development Bank’s logo. The “Strategy 2020” mid-term review evaluates the bank’s progress in the present development landscape. Photo by: vanou / CC BY-NC-ND

Asia Pacific is changing fast — and so must the Asian Development Bank.

This is the latest challenge the Manila-based development institution is facing today: how to make itself relevant and capable of addressing the myriad development challenges in a rapidly transforming region.

ADB was expected to publish on Wednesday the much-awaited midterm review of its grand development framework dubbed “Strategy 2020” — but as of posting time the final document had not yet been endorsed by the board of governors, according to bank sources.

“[The bank] is undertaking the [midterm review] to prepare itself to meet the challenges of a transforming Asia-Pacific,” said the latest draft of the review being scrutinized by the board of governors, a copy of which was obtained by Devex. “ADB must improve its relevance, responsiveness, and effectiveness.”

Despite many developing member countries having achieved middle-income status in the past few years — “including some that are becoming upper middle-income countries” with better institutional capacity — these nations still have to deal with “eradicating remaining poverty, addressing the needs of aging populations, creating decent jobs for the youth, and mitigating environmental hazards,” added the draft.

Strategy 2020, an initiative launched in 2008 under the leadership of former ADB President Haruhiko Kuroda, is considered to be the bank’s premier development blueprint for the region, providing a “clear mandate and direction to ADB in its vision of a … region free of poverty.”

In the first 4 years of the strategy, over 80 percent of bank operations were aligned with the 5 core areas of environment, regional cooperation and integration, finance sector development, education and infrastructure — which received the lion’s share of funding.

ADB however admits in the draft document that despite this funding strategy, “success rates of completed ADB projects were lower than targets … with institutional effectiveness [needing] strengthening, including staff skills and business processes” — something which the bank wants to improve substantially in the future.

The midterm review is one of current ADB President Takehiko Nakao’s priorities since the former Japanese diplomat assumed office exactly 1 year ago.

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See more:

ADB: Cofinancing, partnerships to bridge Asia-Pacific’s development gap

About the author

  • Lean Alfred Santos

    Lean Alfred Santos is a former Devex development reporter focusing on the development community in Asia-Pacific, including major players such as the Asian Development Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. He previously covered Philippine and international business and economic news, sports and politics.

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