India puts South Asia on growth path: World Bank

April 8th, 2008 - 11:39 pm ICT by admin  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, April 8 (IANS) With India expected to contribute much to new global energy demand in the next two decades and rising savings, South Asia is on the path toward sustainable economic growth, according to a new World Bank-IMF report. But most countries around the world will fall short on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a set of eight globally agreed development goals with a due date of 2015, warns the report released Tuesday ahead of the World Bank- International Monetary Fund meetings this weekend.

Though much of the world is set to cut extreme poverty to half by then, prospects are gravest for the goals of reducing child and maternal mortality, with serious shortfalls also likely in primary school completion, nutrition, and sanitation goals, it said.

“In this Year of Action on the MDGs, I am particularly concerned about the risks of failing to meet the goal of reducing hunger and malnutrition, the ‘forgotten MDG’,” said Robert B. Zoellick, president of the World Bank Group.

Noting that South Asia has positive adjusted net saving, a necessary condition for sustainable economic growth, the report said the region is likely to halve by 2015 the number of people without access to safe drinking water, but will not achieve the same target for improved basic sanitation.

‘The Global Monitoring Report: MDGs and the Environment - Agenda for Inclusive and Sustainable Development’ stresses the link between environment and development and calls for urgent action on climate change.

“This year’s high level meetings in connection with the MDG halfway point provide an opportunity to agree on priorities for action and milestones for monitoring progress,” said Zia Qureshi, lead author of the report.

While South Asia accounted for less than six percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2000, India today is third among the top 10 emitters of industrial water pollution, with emissions of over 1.5 million kg per day, Outdoor air pollution places both adults and children at risk in South Asia. This is an acute problem in urban areas of fast-growing economies like India.

Earlier snowmelt and the loss of glacial buffering in the Hindu Kush-Himalayas will affect the seasonality of water supply for large segments of India’s population, the report said.

The report warns that developing countries stand to suffer the most from climate change and the degradation of natural resources. To build on hard-won gains, developing countries need support to address the links between growth, development and environmental sustainability.

“Developing countries need more foreign aid and domestic resources to reach the MDGs. High economic growth and a stable macroeconomic environment remain essential for reducing poverty and increasing investment in health and education,” said Dominique Strauss-Kahn, IMF managing director.

Though the overall aid landscape is expanding, official development assistance (ODA) - estimated at $103.7 billion in 2007 - has stalled, the report said.

To meet the G8 promises to increase aid by $50 billion by 2010, ODA must expand, it said noting that new donors like China and India are growing in size and importance.

With stronger efforts by the countries themselves and their development partners, most MDGs remain achievable for most countries, the report says. With this in mind, the report lays out an integrated six-point agenda, with strong, inclusive growth at the top.

The agenda also calls for more effective aid, a successful outcome to the Doha round of trade talks, more emphasis on strengthening programmes in health, education and nutrition, and financing and technology transfers to support climate change mitigation and adaptation.

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