Professor Yasuyuki Sawada, ADB Chief Economist.
A public seminar on the “Asian Development Outlook 2019: Strengthening Disaster Resilience” was held at The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Laucala Campus on 6 May 2019.
Organised by USP’s Centre for Economic Policy & Modeling and the Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) Pacific Sub Regional Office, Professor Yasuyuki Sawada, Chief Economist presented an update on the ADB’s latest flagship report Asian Development Outlook 2019.
Dr Neelesh Gounder, Senior Economics Lecturer at USP acknowledged the audience and extended a special welcome to Professor Sawada.
Professor Sawada noted that Asia must strengthen its disaster resilience given growing risks posed by natural hazards and discussed key development challenges for Pacific Island countries, in particular on disaster resilience.
Part of the crowd that attended the Asian Development Outlook 2019: Strengthening Disaster Resilience public seminar at USP.
He stated that growth in developing Asia is projected to soften to 5.7% in 2019 and 5.6% in 2020, adding that a deteriorating trade conflict between the People's Republic of China and the United States could undermine investment and growth in developing Asia.
He added that according to the Outlook, with various uncertainties stemming from US fiscal policy and a possible disorderly Brexit, growth in the advanced economies could turn out slower than expected, undermining the outlook for the People’s Republic of China and other economies in the region.
Though abrupt increases in US interest rates appear to have ceased for the time being, policy makers must remain vigilant in these uncertain times, he commented.
Disaster risk from natural hazards is a growing threat to the development and prosperity in the region, and the consequences tend to be more severe in developing countries affecting poor and marginalised people disproportionally.
Home to more than four-fifths of the people affected by disasters globally in the past 2 decades, developing Asia must prioritise strengthening its disaster resilience, he said.
Professor Sawada highlighted the Outlook’s suggestion that Governments should integrate disaster risk reduction into national development and investment plans.
“Spending more on prevention would bring a better balance with spending on response and provide better protection to people at risk. Pooling risk through insurance and reinsurance promises to be cost-efficient,” he stated.
According to Professor Sawada, the Pacific continues to lag behind other sub-regions.
“Inflation eased slightly to 4.0% in 2018 as slower price rises in Papua New Guinea and Tonga, the economies with the highest inflation, outweighed significant increases, reflecting in large part higher fuel prices, in several of the remaining economies, notably Timor-Leste and Fiji, the second largest economy in the sub-region,” he noted.
Furthermore, he remarked that Governments should continue to integrate disaster risk reduction into broader development policies and public investment strategies.
“They can build resilience from the ground up by facilitating climate change adaptation through enhanced disaster-resilient infrastructure, supporting the development of market mechanisms, and investing directly in communities,” he added.
A former Professor in the Faculty of Economics at the University of Tokyo, Professor Sawada holds a Doctorate degree in Economics and a Masters degree in International Development Policy from Stanford University (USA).
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