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April 2011

Bank Spring Meetings highlight solutions to food crisis, conflict

Julia Ross's picture

Photo: Simone D. McCourtie / World Bank

The World Bank-IMF Spring Meetings concluded Sunday, having brought renewed attention to the impact of the food crisis, challenges facing conflict-affected states, and progress toward the Millennium Development Goals, among other issues.

In case you missed one of the many announcements or discussions held over the last two weeks, here are a few highlights:

Economic outlook for Latin America: A virtual conversation

Carlos Ferreyra's picture

Latin America received good news about its 2011 economic growth projection last week in front of a global audience that interacted with World Bank experts via the web and social networks during the 2011 Spring Meetings.

The good news is that the regional economy will keep growing in 2011 at 4-5%. In view of such projections, typical problems such as runaway inflation seem to have become a thing of the past.

Growth forecasts for 2011 equal those for the fast-growing “tigers” or East Asian economies, according to the Latin America and the Caribbean’s Success Put to the Test report.

What will it take to confront global crises?

Vinod Thomas's picture

Three interlinked global crises—food, economic, climate—were high on the agenda of this year’s Bank-IMF Spring Meetings. At a conference organized by the Independent Evaluation Group and World Bank Institute, a panel of experts—Kristalina Georgieva, European Commissioner; Hans Herren, President, Millennium Institute; Trevor Manuel, Minister, National Planning Commission, South Africa; Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Managing Director, World Bank; Robert Watson, Chief Scientific Advisor, Government of UK— discussed not only the impact of each crisis, but crucially the links among them in seeking joint solutions.

What would it take to transform Africa's energy sector?

Jamal Saghir's picture

What would it take to transform Africa’s energy sector? This is the question we grappled with in a discussion on Friday with Energy and Finance ministers from across Africa. The discussion was part of a standing-room only event that took place during World Bank-IMF Spring Meetings. The discussion could have gone much longer than the scheduled two hours; this is because so many of us feel so strongly about Africa's energy situation.

Development Committee: Food Prices Remain Top Concern

Julia Ross's picture

Food prices are the biggest threat today to the world’s poor, World Bank President Bob Zoellick told reporters at an April 16 press conference following the meeting of the Development Committee of the World Bank and IMF. “We are one shock away from a full-fledged crisis,” said Zoellick.

In their final communiqué, Committee members expressed concern that “overheating in some sectors, especially food and energy, is resulting in price pressures and volatility.”

Making agriculture work for jobs

Obiageli Ezekwesili's picture

Woman farmer in Madagascar

There is a jobs cow waiting to be milked in Africa. It is agriculture and agri-business.

In its initial condition, Africa’s agriculture bears a striking resemblance to its telecom sector in the late 1990s. A decade on, a combination of right policies and strengthened  regulatory framework has seen the sector open up to free enterprise,  attracting about $60 billion in private investments and leading to today’s ICT boom: 450 million mobile phones in Africa, which is more mobile phones than Canada, Mexico and the USA combined.

Arab world unemployment: Relief in the short run?

Julia Ross's picture

On our Arab Voices and Views blog, Steen Jorgensen writes about high unemployment in the Middle East and North Africa, where governments are wondering how to provide immediate relief while keeping their economies growing.

"The answer for those with lower skills probably lies in providing government-funded contracts to small entrepreneurs for labor-intensive upgrading and rehabilitation of basic infrastructure such as roads and irrigation canals," he writes.

Experts debate solutions to food crisis at World Bank Open Forum

Donna Barne's picture



The problem of high and volatile food prices that have driven 44 million people in to poverty in recent months was debated at the World Bank’s Open Forum – a two-hour webcast event on the food crisis incorporating feedback from 3,000 participants in a 24-hour chat and more than 500 suggestions and comments that flooded in from people in 91 countries before the event.

Civil society talks food price volatility, support to farmers

Sarah Holmberg's picture



As the Bank reported earlier this week, global food prices are rising to dangerous levels and threaten tens of millions of poor people around the world. Rising prices have pushed an estimated 44 million people into poverty since last June.

Dani Rodrik speaks on structural change

Julia Ross's picture

Dani Rodrik, professor of international political economy at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, visited the World Bank yesterday to deliver a lecture on "Structural Change and Economic Growth."

The Bank's Merrell Tuck-Primdahl has a nice summary of the speech and a video chat with Rodrik over on the Let's Talk Development blog.

Sierra Leone: Impressions from Moyamba and Fourah Bay

Ritva Reinikka's picture



As we head into Spring Meetings in Washington, Sierra Leone is very much in my thoughts, because it is a country that faces many serious challenges—especially those relating to the survival of women and children—and because I’ve just returned from there, and have seen firsthand some of the efforts that are being made to turn this situation around.

This was an opportunity to look at human development in Sierra Leone through the lens of our

Bangladesh: Mapping climate change and food security

Sarah Holmberg's picture

In a blog post by Molly Norris and Joshua Powell for the End Poverty in South Asia blog, they talk about Bangladesh as "ground zero" at the intersection of climate change and food security.

"The country is widely recognized as one of the places most vulnerable to the effects of a changing climate, which strains food systems alongside rapidly growing and urbanizing populations. Yet, despite these dual challenges, the World Bank expects Bangladesh will meet its Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of halving the number of people living in extreme poverty by 2015," they write.

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Will Africa’s real leaders please stand up? A call to the continent’s ICT innovators

Nicole Amarteifio's picture


Browsing through the submissions from Africa for the ‘Apps for Development’ competition, I realized the solutions to my continent’s development challenges are not to be found in wordy policy papers; instead, the solutions are alive in the innovation of Africa’s ICT sector.

Zoellick Kicks Off Meetings with Opening Press Conference

Angie Gentile's picture


Speaking this morning at the Spring Meetings opening press conference, Bank President Robert Zoellick said high and volatile food prices continue to threaten the world's poor.

Already, 44 million people have fallen into poverty since June last year. “If the Food Price Index rises by just another 10%, we estimate that another 10 million people will fall into extreme poverty where people live on less than $1.25 a day,” Zoellick said. “The world can do something about this.”

Why Jane Goodall sees redd when she thinks of forest protection

Sarah Holmberg's picture

Today Benoît Bosquet writes about Jane Goodall's visit to the World Bank earlier this week.

"When Jane Goodall spoke Tuesday at the World Bank, she said she had recently begun to understand the exciting potential value of REDD – reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. For decades, Dr. Goodall and others have been fighting for the conservation of forests to preserve and protect animal habitat– in the case of Dr. Goodall, that of chimpanzees in Tanzania. And now, many people like Jane Goodall are making the connection between this battle and the fight against climate change," he writes.

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The Food Price Threat to Poor Continues

Sarah Holmberg's picture

Otaviano Canuto writes about the Food Price Watch today on the the Growth and Crisis blog.

He writes:

“According to the World Bank’s Food Price Watch, a brief just released tracking food prices and poverty trends, global food prices are 36% above their levels a year ago and remain volatile, close to their 2008 peak.  Key staples going through the roof include maize (74%), wheat (69%), soybeans (36%) and sugar (21%)...For some of us, expensive food might mean we spend more money in the supermarket, but for millions of people around the world, it is a real threat. The poor spend most of their money on food. So think about Mexicans, whose daily diet includes a good amount of tortillas. Or a family in Mauritania trying to get enough bread amid the 40% wheat price increase of the last year.”

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Development Results at Your Fingertips

Sarah Holmberg's picture


Antonio Lambino writes about the release of the Results App (available for iPhone) today on the CommGap Blog.

"Dubbed “Results at a Glance”, the app was created to help members of the international development community – including CSOs, NGOs, and donors—advocate for development issues by featuring more than 450 results stories from over 85 countries," he writes.

Read more of Antonio's blog post. Learn more about the Results iPhone app.

Fighting Corruption: Making Development Work

Leonard McCarthy's picture

 


The World Bank has a clear vision:  A world free of poverty.  When integrity prevails, projects deliver and the poor benefit.  When they fail, development is set back and the poor suffer. That‘s why at the World Bank, we take the position that Rule of Law equals Development.  In the Bank’s pursuit of results, openness and accountability, we assert integrity in our operations, without reservation.  At the heart of our strategy is a commitment to remove the conditions that dent international security and make corruption flourish.

Violence and the failure of institutions

Marcelo Giugale's picture



The World Bank has just published its annual World Development Report, something it has been doing for more than three decades.  [Disclosure: this economist has been contributing comments to early drafts of the WDR for the past 20 years.] The new volume is about security and development.  It says that societies are constantly under internal and external “stresses”—think corruption, youth unemployment, racial discrimination, religious competition, foreign invasion, and international terrorism.

Food security: Voices offer solutions, experiences

Sarah Holmberg's picture

In an effort to spur to the “Food First” debate, the Bank has asked the public for suggestions on solutions to the food crisis.  Five of these suggestions are being used in a Facebook poll asking fans which idea should be put to experts at the April 15 Open Forum. Out of a total 851 votes, 331 considered the following solution as most important: "Governments should control black markets and fight corruption."

Conflict, security and development

Sarah Holmberg's picture

Nigel Roberts, co-director of the World Development Report 2011, blogs on the report’s release today over on the Bank's Conflict and Development blog. "We’ve estimated that 1.5 billion people live in areas experiencing or threatened by organized violence; that’s roughly a quarter of the world’s population," he writes.

Related

>WDR Webcast and Panel Discussions: April 14
>World Development Report
>Press release
>Videos
>Feature story

Bank calls for citizen empowerment, governance in Middle East

Angie Gentile's picture


Speaking today ahead of the World Bank-IMF Spring Meetings, Bank President Robert Zoellick said the crisis engulfing the Middle East and North Africa shows that greater citizen participation and better governance are crucial for economic development. The World Bank will do more to emphasize both, he said.

Access to food is a human need

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala's picture

Hunger is something I knew all too well as a teenager living through the terrible years of conflict of the Nigerian-Biafran war.

My family then – as many families do when war happens – lost everything. Eating each day became a question mark. I saw many children die of kwashiorkor and other diseases because they didn’t have enough to eat.  

Now – many years later and secure in the knowledge I do have food on the table each night - when I read about rising and volatile food prices I can recall the desperation and the emptiness that was hunger  when I was a teenager.

'Food First’: Bank Spring Meetings address food crisis, conflict, corruption

Julia Ross's picture

Today we begin blog coverage of the 2011 World Bank-IMF Spring Meetings, set for April 15-17. Though we’re two weeks out, activities around the meetings’ key themes—food insecurity and food price volatility, conflict, anti-corruption and open development—are already ramping up.

Among the events and announcements we’ll report on here: