'Human Development is Economic Development,' Say Asian and Latin American Policy Makers

Senior policy makers from Asia and Latin America took the stage at Asia Society New York yesterday morning to discuss their perspectives on societal transformations in Brazil, China and Indonesia. Moderated by Jamie Metzl, Senior Fellow at Asia Society, the dialogue touched upon important global themes such as wealth gaps, political transitions, social empowerment, human development, and sustainable growth.

Representing China, Khalid Malik, Director of UNDP’s Human Development Report Office, denied the notion that growth is the fundamental issue facing the global community. “It’s about peoples’ wellbeing,” Mr. Malik clarified. Quoting the main goal of the UNDP Human Development Report, he emphasized “bringing about development of the people, by the people, and for the people.” 

While China has been showing 10 percent growth rates for 30 years, Indonesia has yet to leverage its potential to grow double digits. Indonesia has missed many an opportunity to turn its vision of being a major player in Asia into a reality. Compared to Brazil, however, Indonesia seems to be on the right track for a sustainable future. “If we encourage the enorcement of law, make it stronger, give incetives for Indonesians to innovate, to be good businessmen, I do believe that the country will be a major player in Asia ,” commented Rizal Ramli, former Indonesian Minister of Finance.

Senator Cristovam Buarque from Brazil criticized his country’s blindness to its problems. “There is violence in the streets, instability in justice, high public expenses,” just to list a few of the issues he mentioned. Due to an education deficit, Brazil is lacking its “most important tool in the 21st Century: brains,” said Senator Buarque.

Brains may be the tool for innovation, but without self-empowered citizens, a nation will never move from the background into center stage.

Reported by Liza Strauss

Watch: Highlights from Asia and Latin America: Perspectives on Societal Transformation (2 min., 45 sec.)

Watch the complete program.