Colombia, a sophisticated middle income country, strives for innovative development solutions. Over the past years, the country made steady development progress in promoting sustainable growth and lasting peace, continued investments in infrastructure as well as strengthening more inclusive social policies. However, despite these favorable economic trends, the level of poverty, inequality and regional disparities persists and more needs to be done.
The current global context means that for development strategies to be effective, they have to include innovative and effective approaches that bring together the best inputs from different sectors. And that’s where the World Bank comes in. Today, the World Bank Group Executive Board endorsed its new five year Country Partnership Strategy (CPS) for Colombia, which will help the South American country consolidate economic reforms, improve infrastructure development and enhance the effectiveness of social programs.
At the outset when developing this new strategy, the entire World Bank Group country team got together and brainstormed about Colombia’s challenges. We then met with the newly elected President Santos and his team and discussed how best to support Colombia’s own National Development Plan.
Key challenges were to be selective, to effectively use limited budget resources, and join forces with other relevant partners while providing innovative development solutions.
Obviously selectivity is the most difficult one not just for a Government but also within the Bank as there are so many different things that are worth supporting. Let me say, the Colombia Country team managed well to come to a consensus. In fact we came up with a model of cooperation that implies a transition towards a more thematic and comprehensive support in order to maximize the Bank’s service package and focus on the results.
At the same time we had to be competitive and tailor our financial support in a way that still attracts a country that has an ever increasing access to world financing.
As the CPS is long to read (I still encourage you to do so), let me give a glimpse of what you will find: Not only the traditional lists of loans and analytical reports supporting specific sector developments but rather the full spectrum of what the Bank has to offer.
There are integrated packages of financial, risk management, knowledge and convening services that focus on three strategic themes:
1) Expanding opportunities for social prosperity via enhancements in social promotion, education access and quality, improvements of performance of social services and citizen security.
2) Promoting sustainable growth with greater climate change resilience, through improvements in urban development, enhanced disaster risk management, and improved environmental management.
3) Encouraging inclusive growth with greater productivity, through a better management of fiscal, financial and social risks, greater public sector efficiency, and improved productivity and innovation.
This innovative model highlights the Bank’s comparative advantage: The pool of international experience both culturally and technically from across the world, sharing knowledge on latest innovative developments via our communications technology that connect our staff in five continents. Let me say, there aren’t many organizations in the world where this exchange of ideas, knowledge and experiences is possible.