NEW YORK, USA (23 September 2010) - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) today signed a major agreement, joining forces across Asia and the Pacific region to fight disparities, reduce poverty, and ensure that equitable and sustainable development benefits all children.

The signing of the memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the two agencies comes at a critical time with only five years remaining until the 2015 deadline for the world to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

"The outcome from this agreement will be an improved partnership which will enhance the capacities of both ADB and UNICEF to deliver on their long-term objectives of poverty reduction, inclusive growth and child welfare," said ADB President Haruhiko Kuroda.

"UNICEF is committed to working with the ADB to ensure that this region's rapid growth doesn't leave behind the most disadvantaged children," said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. "Our agreement with ADB is critical to working for equitable development."

The MOU provides a framework for the two development organizations to engage in joint technical assistance, projects, and program work in selected countries and sectors in the region. It will promote research and analysis, and the development of knowledge products on issues linked to their common activities. Policy dialogue and consultation on strategies and programs targeted at children and women will also be enhanced between the two organizations.

Countries identified as priority areas for cooperation include Armenia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Georgia, Indonesia, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Mongolia, Nepal,Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Timor Leste, Uzbekistan, and Viet Nam. The MOU will run for five years from the date of signing and may be extended by mutual consent.

ADB and UNICEF will look for opportunities to work together to accelerate the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, including reducing infant, under-five, and maternal mortality rates, improving the quality and relevance of basic education, promoting investments in water, sanitation and hygiene, strengthening child protection systems. They will step up advocacy for policies and programs to combat HIV/AIDS. The two agencies will also look at opportunities to cooperate on public-private-partnerships, strengthened social safety nets, and other areas that can mitigate the impacts of crises and enable the poor to participate in and benefit from economic growth.