Bart W. Édes

Development Challenges in Asia and the Role of Asian Development Bank

Over half a century, Asia has evolved to become a dynamic growth center of the world which now accounts for one third of GDP and more than half the world’s economic growth. Countries in the region have made significant progress in raising living standards and reducing poverty. However, there are still 330 million living in absolute poverty in Asia and the Pacific, and the region faces other challenges including a large infrastructure deficit, increasing inequality, gender equity, aging, rapid urbanization, and climate change. With the global and regional economic outlook uncertain, another key challenge facing Asia is to sustain the growth needed to create jobs and reduce poverty.

ADB aims to remain a major partner to help developing member countries achieve Sustainable Development Goals, including eradicating extreme poverty by 2030, not only in terms of the volume of financing, but also in the quality of knowledge support and technology. ADB like other institutions are grappling with the demands of delivering on this ambitious new development agenda. The 2030 agenda is particularly relevant in the Asia and Pacific region, where extreme poverty has decreased, but more needs to be done to achieve prosperity and environmental sustainability. Multilateral development banks have recognized that this will require making the best possible use of each dollar from every source, noting that achieving the SDGs will require moving from billions to trillions in resource flows. Such a paradigm shift calls for new and improved approaches to mobilizing private capital, and greater cooperation among development finance institutions.

Bart Édes will discuss the economic outlook in Asia, key development challenges, the role of ADB, and the changing landscape for development in the world’s most populous region.


Bart W. Édes has served as the Asian Development Bank’s (ADB’s) Representative in North America since October 2, 2017. In this capacity, he mobilizes financing for ADB’s developing member countries; shares development knowledge and experience; establishes and deepens partnerships with public, private and nonprofit organizations in North America; and raises public awareness of ADB in Canada and the United States. His earlier ADB experience includes leading teams responsible for knowledge management, social development, gender equity, the social sectors, civil society engagement, ICT for Development, inclusive business, governance, and public sector management. He guided the formulation of ADB’s Public Communications Policy, which set a new global benchmark for transparency and information sharing among the international financial institutions. Mr. Édes has also served as Alternate Chairperson of ADB’s Appeals Committee, and Member of the ADB Integrity Oversight Committee.