Inclusive Growth in the practice of the Asian Development Bank

A discussion event took place on February 9th at the German Development Institute (GDI) in the framework of the February 2012 talk series organised by the Society for International Development (SID) Bonn Chapter.

Summary and reflections By Günther Oldenbruch

Ms. Ursula Schäfer-Preuss delivered a speech on Inclusive Growth in the practice of the Asian Development Bank (ADB). Taking advantage of her 5-year experience as Vice President of the Asian Development Bank, she focused on strategies and concepts elaborated by the ADB on this specific theme.

Inclusive Growth (IG) is a concept that puts the emphasis not only on the economic driver, but also on the sustainable aspects and the social dimension of growth. Developed by ADB staff in 2007 (Zhuang 2007) and steadily further elaborated, the concept of IG is built upon three policy pillars, supported by good governance and institutions (Zhuang 2010), identified as requirements for a strategy that aims at high and sustained growth while ensuring that all members of the society benefit from growth:

1 High, efficient, and sustained growth to create productive jobs and economic opportunity. 2 Social inclusion to ensure equal access to economic opportunity. 3 Social safety nets to protect the chronically poor and vulnerable.

'Inclusive growth is about raising the pace of growth and enlarging the size of the economy, while levelling the playing field for investment and increasing productive employment opportunities, as well as ensuring fair access to them. It allows every section of the society to participate in and contribute to the growth process equally, irrespective of their circumstances' (ADB 2011, 47). A discussion followed the presentation which generated many critical remarks.  Among others, it was highlighted the need to find ways to counterbalance member states’ interests and the ADB’s interests as a bank, with the ambitious aims of decreasing social inequality. This is a challenging debate, an ambitious goal that is still to be seen as work in progress and, therefore, vulnerable to points of criticism. However it represents an interesting starting point in view of generating alternative discussions around an innovative concept of growth.

Günther Oldenbruch is President of the Bonn Chapter. To learn more about SID Bonn activities, how to participate or how to become member of the chapter, please visit

Photo credits: flick/FriendsofEurope