Message from the Chairperson
Taking a look at the world economy in 2015, the gradual recovery of the developed countries contrasts greatly with the decline in the growth of emerging markets in developing countries and regions.
In Asia, there is a growing concern that the growth of each country will slow down due to the deceleration of China's economic growth. Moreover, with the regression of the United States to traditional financial policies, as well as the increase in interest, an occurrence of capital outflow is possible and countermeasures must be taken.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicts that Asia's growth is 6.5% in 2015 and 6.4% in 2016, showing a risk of downturn.
In the "Sustainable Development Summit" held on September 25, 2015, the member states of the United Nations adopted the "2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development". This plan states the "Sustainable Development Goals" in which multi-stakeholders including governments, international institutions, NGOs, and corporations of all countries shall address issues not only of developing countries but also of developed countries (production and consumption, natural energy and other issues) and the mobilization of money within developing countries. ACT will take part in efforts to achieve these goals and will also actively engage in addressing new issues as well.
The fiscal year of 2014 marks the largest number and amount of ACT grant projects (47 projects in 8 countries, total grant amount of JPY 49,726,000). The 10-year Indian Ocean Tsunami Reconstruction Support Program by ACT's special funds "the Daiwa Securities Group Tsunami Reconstruction Fund" and "the Sumatra Japan-Indonesia Friendship Fund"and ACT's General Fund produced good results, contributing to the improvement of the lives of 240,000 people in three countries. I would like to thank the donors and supporters who gave their "trust" (monetary contribution and confidence) on ACT.
Message from the Executive Secretary
For thirty five years, ACT, which has been connecting the efforts of Japanese civil society with those of other Asian countries, has undertaken the tasks of accurately understanding the needs and issues of the local people and reflecting these needs and issues in its grant activities while observing the changes in the Asian region.
At the time of the establishment of ACT (1979), despite the effects of the second oil shock, Japan was in a period when its Gross National Product continued to increase and companies aggressively expanded their businesses and invested overseas. As ACT's first appointed Executive Secretary, I visited Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines and other countries and met young NGO workers and members of the academe in their 20s and 30s, people who later on would become leaders of their society. In the world of development aid at that time, control on development planning fell on the hands of the government agencies of developed countries. For example, aid from the Japanese government places emphasis on the construction of infrastructure for economic development. Hence, the support did not directly reach the poor, the ones who truly needed it. There are even instances when, due to the construction of dams, the poor were driven out of their living areas in exchange for a small amount of compensation, making them lose their source of livelihood. Situations like this awakened the strong sense of justice in young people who started NGO activities to address the needs of the local people.
Young people such as these who share the same intentions as ACT in promoting cooperation among citizens in the grassroots level, proposed various activity projects that the government development aid could not support: education for slum children, training for landless farmers, organization of locals, and other projects. As a result of their efforts, many children were able to attend school; some even went to high school or college. People living in poverty were also able to improve their livelihood. ACT will continue this basic policy of supporting the endeavors of grassroots people in endogenous development.
However, with the significant growth in the economies of developing countries in recent years, young and highly educated people are choosing to work in the corporate sector, leaving the NGO sector scarce in human resources. Securing and cultivating human resources for the NGO sector, as well as supporting the development of social entrepreneurs which has been a growing trend in recent years can be considered future challenges for ACT.
Incidentally, in the Indian Ocean Tsunami Reconstruction Support Program supported mainly by the "The Daiwa Securities Group Tsunami Reconstruction Fund", the partner local NGOs and ACT were able to see the end of a ten-year undertaking that lead to the improvement and growth in the lives of the locals, especially women, who were affected by the tsunami, combined with their own self-help efforts. ACT seeks to improve its own growth to truly become Asia's "community trust," a fund that is entrusted by everyone. We appreciate your continued support to ACT.