The Growth and Sustainability Debate: Asia’s Perspective
Expert discussion convened at Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy
During the forum that brought experts to Singapore to provide their ideas on sustainable development in Asia, Liz Mohn, vice-chair of the Bertelsmann Stiftung Executive Board, exchanged views with Prof. Kishore Mahbubani, dean of Singapore’s highly respected Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. Mahbubani expressed the need for a more equitable representation of Asian, European and American interests at international institutions and more equitable burden-sharing when it comes to solving the globe’s sustainability problems.
Organized by the Bertelsmann Stiftung together with Austria’s Ministry for European and International Affairs and the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, the gathering provided a venue for experts to discuss the issue of qualitative growth. During the discussion, Mahbubani called for a stronger consideration of Asian interests, saying it is important to recognize that economic growth for Asia is not about acquiring wealth, but primarily about combating poverty. In light of that, Mahbubani, considered one of Asia’s most influential thinkers, called the debate on global sustainable development “not entirely sincere and promising” as long as Europeans and Americans do not allow Asians a fair share of global economic growth. In addition, he said, the United States and Europe should promote long-overdue reforms of multilateral organizations and take responsibility for the environmental degradation that has cumulatively occurred since the Industrial Revolution, given that it accounts for most of the problems impacting the environment and climate today. Concretely, he called for a more representative inclusion of Asian members in multilateral organizations and adequate compensation from the West for many of the externalities that have resulted from industrialization.
Findings from the expert discussion, which included participants from 12 Asian and European countries, will serve as input for the 2010 Salzburg Trilogue.