Andrew Milner reflects on the debate at the heart of the AVPN 2022 conference that he recently attended in Bali
The Asian decade: it was on the AVPN’s 2022 conference masthead, it was proclaimed from the conference stage. Indonesia’s minister for creative economy and tourism, Sandiaga Uno, claimed that the rise of Asia was one of the unstoppable trends of our time. But what does it mean? What form might the Asian decade take, what are the factors for and against its achievement and what is philanthropy’s role in bringing it about?
Let’s start with a working definition: Asia will take the lead not only in solving its own problems but also those that affect us globally. One thing in favour of the claim is Asia’s dynamism. The OECD notes that, ‘the region remains the most dynamic in the world’, but it also remarks that ‘new approaches are needed to better share the benefits of growth, improve well-being and achieve sustainable development goals’. Asia’s great diversity, too, will affect not only the degree to which countries recover after Covid and the amount of philanthropic capital available, but will also mean that progress is likely to be uneven across the region. Leaving aside the pandemic, inequalities in Asia are as stark as they are elsewhere. According to a 2018 report from UNESCAP, ‘China, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Singapore experienced sharp increases [in income inequality].’ While economic recovery is expected to continue, growth rates vary widely – from 7 per cent in the Philippines to -0.3 per cent in Myanmar.