Asia > Changing investment allocation within and across sectors in Asia

Asia: Changing investment allocation within and across sectors in Asia

2012/08/13

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Changing investment allocation within and across sectors in Asia


Developing countries have chronically underinvested in science, technology, and innovation. However, crop breeding—using biotechnology and genetic modification—will be an essential component of adapting to key biotic and abiotic stresses related to climate change, including drought, heat, salinity, pests, and disease. These should be combined with tapping of traditional knowledge on crop varieties and adaptation. Policies that favor private sector investment in crop improvements targeted to climate change in the developed and developing world are critical.

These policies include

  • (i) decreasing the bureaucratic hurdles to business formation,
  • (ii) developing infrastructure that enables the production and distribution of improved seeds and other agricultural inputs,
  • (iii) developing appropriate regulatory and biosafety protocols for the introduction of transgenic cultivars, and
  • (iv) reforming intellectual property rights that could encourage private investment in crop improvement. A growing number of food companies are successfully adopting various sustainable pathways as new marketing strategies.

This includes growing crops organically, offsetting GHG, sourcing fair-trade, and promoting biodiversity. These companies’ experiences should be documented and lessons should be extracted on how the public sector can facilitate scaling up these initiatives.


In much of Asia, growth of public investments in research slowed after the 1980s. Investments in biotechnology and biosafety regulatory systems have been insufficient to address pressing needs in both areas, especially when focused on resolving national constraints. Many countries in Asia and the Pacific need to develop the infrastructure and scientific capacity to implement risk assessments and biosafety regulations to enable effective development and adoption of biotechnology.

In irrigation and water resources, investments may be needed to expand large-scale storage to deal with the increased variability of rainfall and runoff. On the other hand, in regions where changes in precipitation are highly uncertain, investments might be better distributed in a variety of small catchments. Climate change and variability in water supply, together with potential long-term changes in the cost of energy, could also dramatically change the cost–benefit calculus for big dams for storage, irrigation, and hydropower, making these investments more attractive despite the environmental and human relocation issues that dams raise. The appropriate level and location of future irrigation investments could also change dramatically.

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