Asian growth requires pollution, poverty fight, says ILO

Asian growth requires pollution, poverty fight, says ILO

Zurich, 13 August: Politicians need to address problems such as pollution and accelerating urbanisation to ensure sustainable wealth creation in Asia, the UN said.

“Vulnerabilities arising from environmental pressures, economic insecurity, shortcomings in governance and unequal income distribution pose a threat to the region’s future development,“the UN’s International Labour Organisation (ILO) said in a report for a conference in Beijing on 13-15 Aug.

“Growth and sustainable development ... could be seriously undermined by environmental degradation, depletion of natural resources and climate change." Further risks included an ageing population, increasing migration, rising income inequalities and long working hours. The continent’s labour force, now estimated at 1.8 billion, included vast numbers of working poor and will grow by more than 200 million people by 2015, the ILO said.

In 2006, there were 900 million people in the region working for $2 a day, or 51.9 percent of the employed, down from 68.5% in 1996. More than 300 million people had income of only $1 a day, the report showed.

It was unlikely there would be a rapid drop in the number of people working in the informal economy, now 61.9%, the report said.

The report is called “Visions for Asia’s Decent Work Decade: Sustainable Growth and Jobs to 2015" and will be discussed at an ILO meeting of senior government, labour and employer officials from some 20 countries in Asia and the Pacific.

The report surveyed developed economies in the region -- Japan, Australia and New Zealand -- as well as the regions east Asia, southeast Asia and the Pacific, and south Asia.