International Perspectives: Asia’s Development Challenges
February 13, 2013
This week, the International Policy, Development and Practice Speaker Series [at UC Berkeley] welcomed David D. Arnold, the President of The Asia Foundation. Seen through the lens of his work at The Asia Foundation, Mr. Arnold delivered a talk on “Asia’s Development Challenges.” He identified three major challenges for Asia and the Asia-Pacific area.
First, he described the weakness of governance impeding economic growth and progress. However, interesting experiments to fight corruption have also begun. In Mongolia, for example, The Asia Foundation is helping to develop special courts to try corruption cases, as well as developing a website in India where people text information about bribes they paid to a server and a map of bribes is drawn from these texts. Secondly, he disaggregated the positive growth at the macro-level of Asian economies from the negative growth in income gaps and increasing inequality.
Finally, the third major development challenge he identified was an increasing prevalence of sub-national conflicts. He stated that if you look at the duration of these sub-national conflicts, the average duration is 32 years. The ongoing conflicts are taking their toll on development in Asia; conflict is estimated to retard growth and progress towards the Millennium Development Goals 1-3 percent per year.
When asked about the role of private institutions, Mr. Arnold emphasized that the value-added of foundations and NGOs is not monetary. Instead, private institutions can forge meaningful partnerships with civil society organizations within the countries they operate in, creating what he calls the “software” of development through which the hardware development (such as dams, etc.) can both take place and fit within. Secondly, private institutions have a strong value-driven approach. These two things combine to help private institutions play a catalytic and innovative role in development.
Mr. Arnold was also asked about the rise of “indigenous non-profits,” or the creation of foundations and NGOs funded by donors within Asia. He explained that most of these private institutions are doing singular, project-driven work, such as building schools or providing books, and are not oriented towards social justice and broader change. However, he predicts this will slowly change over the next two decades.
Mr. Arnold, in addition to his substantive comments on Asia, gave the crowd good professional advice. “Learn when to say yes,” he encouraged the room. He explained that learning when to say yes takes you to more interesting places and more fascinating jobs. He also explained that one who works in development needs to be a “cock-eyed optimist;” there are success stories and progress, and it is important to see and highlight them to encourage future good work.
Ashley Clark is a MPP/MA-IAS student at the University of California Berkeley. This piece originally appeared on Policy Matters, a blog published by the University’s Goldman School of Public Policy. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and not those of The Asia Foundation.
About our blog, In AsiaIn Asia is a weekly in-depth, in-country resource for readers who want to stay abreast of significant events and issues shaping Asia's development, hosted by The Asia Foundation. Drawing on the first-hand insight of over 70 renowned experts in over 20 countries, In Asia delivers concentrated analysis on issues affecting each region of Asia, as well as Foundation-produced reports and polls.
In Asia is posted and distributed every Wednesday evening, Pacific Time and is accessible via email and RSS. If you have any questions, please send an email to [email protected].
ContactFor questions about In Asia, or for our cross-post and re-use policy, please send an email to [email protected].
The Asia Foundation
465 California St., 9th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94104
PO Box 193223
San Francisco, CA 94119-3223
THE LATEST ACROSS ASIA
Asia Foundation Releases Bangladesh Democracy Survey
August 25, 2016
Despite Opposition, K-12 Education Reform Moves Forward in the Philippines
August 24, 2016
Supporting Low-Skilled Labor in the New Lower-Middle Income Cambodia
August 24, 2016
In India New Charter Calls on Men and Boys to Counter Violence Against Women
August 24, 2016