By DAVID BEARDENAWASHINGTON, Nov. 3 (Reuters) – The Rockefeller Foundation is putting $1.6 billion in new investments aimed at accelerating economic growth in Asia, the foundation said on Thursday, reflecting the hopes of Asian nations that they are among the fastest growing economies in the world.

The Rockefeller Foundation’s new investment program, announced in an email, was to “enable the region to become a net-exporter of growth and employment, and to provide economic opportunities and opportunities for local communities and investors, while promoting peace and prosperity for the region.”

The fund will also support projects aimed at strengthening the security of markets in Asia through the deployment of advanced technology and digital services, as well as to enhance and enhance the governance of local governments and private companies, the statement said.

In Asia, there are nearly 6.3 billion people, more than half of whom are under 35.

The region’s economic growth is projected to grow at a 7.4 percent annual rate, or about 6 percent a year, in 2020 and 2021, the World Bank said in June.

More: China’s investment boom is the biggest in the region.

The fund, the world’s second-largest, aims to make “a difference” in Asia.

The first $500 million is aimed at helping the region “solve its most pressing challenges and develop its strategic interests”, according to the foundation’s website.

Rockefeller, which supports the Rockefeller Foundation for Economic Development (RFEED), aims to invest at least $300 million annually for the next three years.

The second phase, aimed at $1 billion, is to “increase regional investments in new technology, and enhance regional and global capacity to address emerging problems and challenges”, the foundation website said.

“We are proud to support the Rockefeller Global Leadership Initiative, an ambitious effort to increase investments in Asia and the Pacific region,” said the foundation in a statement.

It said the second phase will “strengthen the capacity of local and regional governments and businesses to address issues like environmental degradation, poverty, water scarcity, and climate change.”

Roche, the Swiss private equity firm, is also working with the foundation.

“The foundation believes in a robust and balanced approach that can support both the development of the region’s capacity to generate economic growth and the stability of global markets,” the statement added.

“Roche’s global footprint is strong and we believe in supporting the development and implementation of strong regional policies.”

(Reporting by David Beard; Editing by Robert Birsel)