Vietnam, Asian peers can unlock $5 trillion, 230 million jobs via development goals

By Reuters, VnExpress   June 6, 2017 | 07:00 pm GMT+7
Vietnam, Asian peers can unlock $5 trillion, 230 million jobs via development goals
A farmer works on a rice field in Vietnam. Photo by Josh Letchworth/Red Bull Media House. Handout via Reuters

Asia's growth and stability are under threat from the impact of many environmental and social burdens.

Businesses in Asia could unlock at least $5 trillion in market opportunities and create 230 million jobs by 2030 by implementing a few key development goals, global business and finance leaders said.

Asia's unprecedented economic growth has helped to reduce poverty, but future growth, prosperity and stability "are all under threat from the impact of a swelling list of environmental and social burdens," according to a report released Monday by the Business and Sustainable Development Commission.

"There is the opportunity to shape a safer, more prosperous world," the report said.

Asia, home to two-thirds of the world's population, is extremely vulnerable to weather-related disasters, whose frequency and intensity could worsen as a result of climate change.

Meanwhile, more than 80 percent of the region's population live in countries where inequality has risen over the past 20 years, according to the Asian Development Bank.

Pursuing strategies in line with the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) would turn these threats into opportunities and provide "the chance to consolidate and sustain the region's regeneration", the report said.

The 17-point SDGs, launched last year, include targets on eliminating poverty, providing clean energy, creating better jobs and tackling economic inequality by 2030.

The report identified four key areas with the most significant opportunities - cities, energy and materials, food and agriculture, and health and well-being - and specific projects such as affordable housing, renewable energy, reducing food waste and sustainable aquaculture.

In Vietnam, the potential of aquaculture has been recognized as an effective solution to alleviate poverty and strengthen external balances, it said.

Two major constraints for the industry, in Vietnam and its Southeast Asian neighbors, are pollution from the excessive use of inputs and poor farming practices. These have led to severe production cutbacks in Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines, and contributed to the prohibitive cost of feed, the report said.

The $5 trillion value is conservative and more value could come from other sectors including information and communication technologies, education and consumer goods, it added.

The cost of realizing these opportunities in the four key areas would likely require $1.7 trillion of annual investment, the report said.

The commission said "blended financing," where public and philanthropic bodies take on high risk and more policy-sensitive investment, could fill the funding gap.

The report follows an earlier study that identified $12 trillion in market opportunities and the creation of up to 380 million jobs globally in the same time frame. Asia accounts for more than 40 percent of these opportunities, the latest report said.

Of the $5 trillion in business opportunities in Asia, around $2.3 trillion could be found in China alone, $1.1 trillion in India, and $1.1 trillion in developing and emerging countries, the report said. The rest are in developed countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and South Korea.