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.”
Angie Gentile's blog
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.
The World Bank's first-ever Open Forum—an interactive online conversation about pressing development issues—threw open to the public discussions normally held behind closed doors.
Three sessions, held Oct. 7 and 8, brought together all-star thinkers and actors in three key areas: the open development movement, jumpstarting jobs, and today’s development challenges.
This weekend, shareholders gathered for the Spring Meetings in Washington, DC, will decide on a request to replenish the World Bank Group’s capital base. The request comes in the wake of unprecedented demands for the Bank’s financial assistance stemming from the global economic crisis.
In a recent speech at Harvard University, Africa Region Vice President Obiageli Ezekwesili outlined the importance of the capital increase as a critical source of funding for the International Development Association (IDA), the concessional window of the World Bank that provides grants and interest-free credits to low-income countries; the majority of which are in Africa. IDA will be seeking its 16th replenishment in 2011.
“Spring Meetings” is the name used to describe a series of events—seminars, roundtables, press briefings and official meetings—spread over five or so days every year and all geared toward one thing: improving the lives of people in the developing world.
Discussions throughout the week focus on a broad range of topics (see meetings and civil society forum schedules) and are in many ways a prelude to the main event—the official meeting of the Development Committee—a group of 24 finance and development ministers appointed by each of the countries, or groups of countries, represented on the Boards of Executive Directors of the Bank and Fund. This year's meeting is set for Sunday, April 25.
The Development Committee meets twice a year and advises the Boards on critical development issues and on the financial resources needed to promote economic development in developing countries. The President of the Bank has a special responsibility to propose topics that he believes require the ministers’ attention.
This year’s agenda, just announced, includes:
- Strengthening Development after the Crisis: World Bank Group Post-Crisis Directions, Internal Reforms and Financial Capacity
- World Bank Group Voice Reform: Enhancing Voice and Participation of Developing and Transition Countries in 2010 and Beyond
Bank President Robert Zoellick just gave his traditional pre-Spring Meetings briefing to the press, where he talked about a multipolar world economy and how the World Bank is changing to meet the needs of a new reality.
“Economic and political tectonic plates are shifting,” he said. Developing countries are key sources of demand for recovery from the crisis, and “over time, they can become multiple poles of growth.”
Zoellick said the Spring Meetings represent a turning point for the World Bank. Over the weekend, the institution’s 186 shareholders will be considering four issues:
- the first capital increase in more than 20 years
- whether to give developing countries a bigger say in the running the institution
- the Bank’s post-crisis strategy, and
- the most comprehensive reform program in the Bank’s history.
"Agreement on this package of measures, if successful, would represent a multilateral success story,” he said.
For more information:
- Spring Meetings press briefing—prepared remarks
- Financial resources website
- Meetings on Twitter
- Meetings on Flickr
Delegates, civil society members and press from around the world are set to converge in Washington for the World Bank-IMF Spring Meetings. (See the schedule of events.) The week is packed with meetings, briefings and lectures covering topics ranging from strategies for post-economic crisis recovery to the first effort in 20 years to raise capital for the World Bank.
But many continue to wonder what the fallout will be of the eruption of Eyjafjallajokull in Iceland last week--from the effects on countries to disruptions in international air travel.
At a Program of Seminars session Monday on “Greening Recovery, Seizing Opportunities,” more than 300 people turned out to hear experts such as Nobel laureate Joe Stiglitz and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner outline how “green” investments are being used as parts of economic stimulus packages.
They were joined by Luciano Coutinho (President, BNDES – Brazilian Development Bank), Yoon-Dae Euh (Chairman, Korean Presidential Council on Nation Branding and Chairman, Steering Committee, Korean Investment Corporation), and Hasan Zuhuri Sarikaya (Undersecretary, Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Turkey).
For Stiglitz, the principal question now in responding to the financial and economic crisis is how to increase global aggregate demand. Instead of increasing consumption, he said, more funding should go to increase investment – particularly green investment.
The World Bank is pursuing an ambitious program of reform to enable the institution to become more efficient and effective while also gaining more legitimacy among the developing countries that it serves, Bank President Robert Zoellick said today.
In a speech at the start of the World Bank-IMF annual meetings, Zoellick said the World Bank’s reforms would focus on improving development effectiveness, promoting accountability and good governance, and continuing to increase cost efficiency.
“To serve the changing global economy, the world needs agile, nimble, competent, and accountable institutions,” Zoellick told the meeting of the Board of Governors of the World Bank Group. “The World Bank Group will improve its legitimacy, efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability, and further expand its cooperation with the UN, the IMF, the other Multilateral Development Banks, donors, civil society, and foundations which have become increasingly important development actors.”
The joint World Bank-IMF advisory body, known as the Development Committee, committed to the G20’s call for more resources for the Bank to help developing countries respond to the global economic crisis.
Concluding its first day of talks on the Bank’s work and impact at the 2009 annual meetings, the committee expressed support for a general capital increase, a multibillion multilateral food trust fund, and a new crisis facility for the world’s 79 poorest countries.
The Development Committee also agreed to “voice” reform to ensure developing countries get a bigger say in how the institution is run—an increase of at least 3 percentage points in voting power, in addition to the 1.46 percent already agreed. This would give them a share next year of at least 47 percent.
In a statement issued Monday, the Development Committee set a definite decision point for shareholders for Spring 2010 on IBRD and IFC capital needs and “committed to ensure that the World Bank Group has sufficient resources to meet future development challenges.”
The committee noted the Bank’s “vigorous response” to the crisis, including a tripling of IBRD commitments to $33 billion this year and IDA reaching a historic level of $14 billion. They also said that IFC, which has invested $10.5 billion and mobilized an additional $4 billion through new initiatives, “combined strong innovation with effective resource mobilization.”