Economic and social survey of Asia and the Pacific 2009: Addressing triple threats to development - The impact of commodity price volatility, economic slowdown and climate change in Asian and Pacific countries in 2008 and 2009 (2009)

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The Asia-Pacific region has been the fastest-growing part of the world for over 20 years and has made substantial progress in reducing poverty and hunger. But in 2008, it experienced three global crises: recession in developed countries, food and fuel price volatility and climate change calamities. What have recent events meant for the future of development in the region? Based on the latest statistics, the 2009 edition of the Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific brought out by UNESCAP now reviews the impact for the region of the events of 2008. The effects of the three crises on Asian and Pacific countries were significant. Amongst others:
  • the price of the main staple food, rice, increased by 150% in only four months;
  • trade moved from double-digit growth to double-digit declines in some economies;
  • natural disasters related to climate change, such as Cyclone Nargis, caused significant loss of life.
Having learnt from the financial crisis of a decade ago, however, Asian countries also appear to have better coped with the turmoil this time round, as compared to other countries. In 2009 the region's developing countries are expected to grow at 3.6%, which - compared with growth of -2.0% in the world's major developed countries - highlights the region's resilience to the crises. According to the report, this comparatively high growth, coupled with the large aggregate size of the region's economies, could result in the Asia-Pacific region accounting for an estimated 115% of global GDP growth in 2009. The report concludes that the three converging crises should be turned into an opportunity to jump-start a regional reorientation towards more inclusive and sustainable development in the Asia-Pacific. Amongst others, it recommends for the promotion of:
  • regionally coordinated monetary and fiscal policies;
  • a regional trade financing mechanism;
  • sustainable agricultural practices;
  • opportunities for rural non-farm employment;
  • social protection systems;
  • pro-poor business initiatives;
  • energy efficiency and investment in renewable sources of energy;
  • regional technical cooperation, particularly for the least developed economies in the region.
Globally, the report calls for:
  • a more inclusive and accountable system of financial markets regulation;
  • improved international trade in food;
  • a conclusion of the Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations.
The report includes a statistical index of economic, social and environmental indicators for all ESCAP countries for the period 1997-2008.
Language: English
Imprint: United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) (This publication may be reproduced in whole or in part for educational or non-profit purposes without special permission from the copyright holder, provided that the source is acknowledged.) 2009
Series: Report,