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Asia Minute: Indonesia’s Declining Poverty and Plastic Pollution Challenges

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One of the steadiest economies in the Asia Pacific in recent years is Indonesia. This week, the World Bank had praise for some government policies, but also warnings about plastic in the ocean.

Poverty in Indonesia has never been as low as it is right now — at least in the decades it’s been measured by international economists.

The most recent figures available show a national poverty rate of 9.7%. That’s still more than 25 million people, but eleven years ago, some 35 million were in poverty – more than 15% of the population.

Progress has been uneven across the island archipelago, and in many places poverty remains more acute. But the World Bank says the national economy has grown by about 5% every quarter for nearly four years now.

This week, the Bank also praised what it calls Indonesia’s “prudent economic management” in a time of domestic natural disasters and global volatility — especially with trade.

It also says that one critical priority is to protect Indonesia’s maritime assets from climate change and marine debris – specifically singling out the reduction of plastic pollution.

And the Bank’s practice manager for environment and natural resources says further investments are needed to sustainably manage fisheries and protect coral reefs and coastal habitats – adding that will “boost Indonesia’s brand for high-quality marine tourism.”

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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