Why Asia, Why Now
The Asia-Pacific region is brimming with young and innovative entrepreneurs eager to take on the challenges of the modern world. This region is at the forefront of some of the most important trends today, from climate change adaptation and digital transformation, to gender equity and economic justice. ASEAN countries alone account for a staggering 7% of global GDP and 9% of global GDP growth over the past decade. And with Southeast Asian countries like Vietnam and Thailand leading the way, the region is set to contribute over 70% of global growth this year alone.
But the economic potential of the Asia-Pacific region is not just a short-term phenomenon. In fact, it is forecasted to continue expanding at an impressive rate over the next few decades. By 2040, the region's GDP is expected to account for 42% of world GDP, up from 37% today. And the ASEAN region, with a combined GDP of USD 3.3 trillion in 2021, is projected to more than quadruple over the next 20 years, reaching USD 13.3 trillion by 2040.
Women's economic empowerment is a vital pillar of Asia's future financial success, and an essential priority for the GIST Initiative.
Thankfully, the past few decades have seen considerable gains in women's access to labor markets in Southeast Asia. In fact, the average female labor force participation rate in the region was a remarkable 67% in 2015, surpassing the OECD average by over seven percentage points. And while the gender wage gap has decreased steadily between 2010 and 2015, there is still work to be done, as it remains significantly higher than the OECD average.
That's why it's crucial to invest in supporting women in science and technology entrepreneurship and innovation. By doing so, we can pave the way towards sustainable and equitable growth, as well as foster new and essential solutions to regional and global challenges that require women's voices.
Together, we can continue to empower women in Southeast Asia and beyond, and ensure a brighter future for all.
Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and global macroeconomic trends, the ASEAN region has a unique opportunity to exceed expectations and thrive in building out the future of renewable technology and climate change mitigation. For instance, several Southeast Asian countries have already taken steps towards becoming next-generation green manufacturing hubs, attracting new investment and creating new job opportunities. Green infrastructure is another area where ASEAN can unlock economic growth and create jobs, particularly by investing in renewable and energy-efficient technologies, which have nearly three times the job-creating impact of investment in fossil fuels.
All in all, the Asia-Pacific region presents an exciting and promising landscape for entrepreneurs, investors, and innovators alike. With its impressive growth potential, vast market opportunities, and a new generation of young and driven innovators, the region is poised for tremendous advances in the coming years.