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Celebrating a steep poverty drop in Bangladesh

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Also available in: Español

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim celebrated Bangladesh’s dramatic progress fighting poverty on End Poverty Day, October 17, at a special event in the heart of Dhaka.

 © Dominic Chavez/World BankMore than 20 million people have lifted themselves out of poverty in Bangladesh in the last two decades. By 2010, the extreme poverty rate fell to 18.5 percent, down from 33.7 percent in 2000.
Speaking in the Bangla language, the prime minister said Bangladesh’s journey has never been smooth, but strong leadership and the resilience of the population have helped it become a lower middle income country and a model for others to imitate.

Powerful panel weighs progress on financial inclusion

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Event Replay

Government leaders and advocates came together during the Annual Meetings to discuss a major development goal – ensuring everyone has access to affordable financial services such as a bank or mobile money account. While a lot of progress has been made on “financial inclusion,” new rules affecting the flow of funds threatens to slow or even reverse some gains.

Financial Inclusion not Exclusion: Managing De-Risking brought together Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, Zhou Xiaochuan, Governor of the People’s Bank of China, Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Indonesia’s Minister of Finance. Arun Jaitley, India’s Minister of Finance, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim, and Juan Manuel Vega-Serrano, the president of the Financial Action Tax Force (FATF), which sets international standards for  combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats.

Some 700 million people were brought into the formal financial system between 2011 and 2014 – a major success – but 2 billion people remain cut off, said Queen Máxima, who is the United Nations Secretary-General’s special advocate for inclusive finance for development.

A new challenge to financial inclusion is a trend toward “de-risking” by banks. Many larger banks are increasingly terminating or restricting business relationships with remittance companies and smaller local banks in certain regions of the world. De-risking has therefore made money transfers more difficult for migrant workers and humanitarian organizations working in war-torn places.

Human Capital Summit highlights need to invest in the youngest children

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Event Replay

The World Bank Group convened a Human Capital Summit on the opening day of the Annual Meetings to make the economic case for investing in the early years of children to drive future growth and development.

Nine developing countries heeded the call, pledging to improve nutrition, health and education programs for young children. They became the first wave of countries expected to make similar pledges over the next few years to tackle childhood malnutrition, lack of early stimulation and learning, and other problems affecting the health and development of children.

World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim warned that the future competitiveness of countries in the world economy will depend on whether their young people are able to reach their potential.

Failure to eliminate childhood stunting will have high economic costs – a loss of 7 percent per capita of GDP, on average, and as high as 9 percent in Sub-Saharan Africa and 10 percent in South Asia, according to a recent analysis by the World Bank Group.

Kim illustrated the dangers of undernutrition, under-stimulation, and other threats to the health and welfare of young children in a presentation at the beginning of the event. For example, one in every 45 children in the world today has been uprooted from their home, according to a recent report by UNICEF. One quarter of children under five worldwide are chronically malnourished (are short for their age, or “stunted”) with rates as high as 50 percent or more in some countries.

Kim and Chief Economist Romer talk development

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Shaping the Global Development Agenda: A Conversation between Jim Kim and Chief Economist Paul Romer

The World Bank Group’s president and new chief economist had a friendly hour-long conversation before an overflow Annual Meetings crowd about some of the biggest risks and opportunities confronting the world today – and the kind of innovative thinking needed to reach ambitious development goals.

Sitting side by side, Jim Yong Kim and Paul Romer discussed the potential impact of automation on jobs, the need to raise the profile of practical development research, the best way for people to acquire valuable “soft skills,” and other issues. The event, Shaping the Global Development Agenda, was simultaneously translated into French, Spanish and Arabic, and livestreamed in four languages.
The rapport between Kim and Romer quickly became clear.
“When I first interviewed Paul, it was supposed to be a 35 to 45 minute meeting. We ended up going for about two hours and 15 minutes, talking about all kinds of different things. And so we thought that we’d share some of that,” said Kim.

Jim Yong Kim: Growth must be much more equitable

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Also available in: العربية | Français

In a speech just ahead of Annual Meetings, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said there must be a new push to bring enough financing, innovation, and creativity to tackle the world’s many challenges – and the World Bank Group has a vital role to play.

Despite rapid reductions in extreme poverty and improvements in the incomes of the bottom 40 percent of the population, progress is “still far too slow” and inequality is still too high, said Kim.

“We have to make growth much more equitable,” said Kim at the Brookings Institution, a think tank in Washington.

He referred to a new World Bank report finding that income inequality has decreased between people and nations, but “still constrains growth and breeds instability.”

The world is facing low growth, technological change, and threats posed by climate change. By 2030, almost half of the world’s poor will live in countries affected by fragility and conflict, and emerging markets and low-income countries face an annual infrastructure financing gap of up to $1.5 trillion, said Kim.

“We have to face up to the fact that we are not reaching the scale required to make the kind of impact on growth that’s needed in developing countries,” Kim said at the packed event.

 “These are no ordinary times. So ordinary measures will not work.”

Guide to 2016 Annual Meetings

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Ministers from 189 countries meet in Washington the week of October 3 for the World Bank-IMF Annual Meetings. We’re streaming 22 events, with more than 10 in multiple languages, on themes including the need for global cooperation to address risks, encourage trade and economic growth. Watch World Bank Live on Monday as World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim sets out his vision for ending extreme poverty. On Tuesday, Oxfam International’s Winnie Byanyima and World Bank experts discuss a just-released report on poverty and inequality. New World Bank Chief Economist Paul Romer and Kim talk about the challenges facing global development on Wednesday.  On Thursday, heads of state and ministers join Kim at the Human Capital Summit and make commitments to reduce chronic malnutrition in children in their countries. Her Majesty Queen Máxima of the Netherlands and other high-level panelists discuss progress on financial inclusion, along with de-risking efforts by banks that could reverse it.  Here is a preview of what you can expect.

Oil price impact is felt beyond borders

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Oil pumps in southern Russia © Gennadiy Kolodkin/World Bank

Two recently released World Bank reports — one on commodities and the other on remittances — lend insight into an unfolding dynamic in the world today. As oil prices dropped from more than $100 per barrel in June 2014 to as low as $27 in the last few months, the money sent home from people working abroad in oil-producing countries also fell. This drop is a major reason remittances to developing countries declined in 2015 to their lowest growth rate since the 2008-2009 financial crisis.

Bill Gates talks about ‘game-changers’ in financing development

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World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Co-Chair Bill Gates, and UK Secretary of State for International Development Justine Greening. © Simone McCourtie/World Bank

What would be a game-changer for achieving some of the world’s most difficult goals — such as ending poverty and hunger and making sure every child gets a quality education?

Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates came to the World Bank Group Spring Meetings to answer that question in a thought-provoking conversation about how to finance development for greater impact.

Jordan’s queen and high-level officials urge rapid solutions to refugee crisis

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World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim and Queen Rania of Jordan. © Grant Ellis/World Bank

Jordan’s Queen Rania and other high-ranking officials said Friday that the world needs a new approach to deal with historically high numbers of forcibly displaced people.

“This is a global crisis, and we’re deluding ourselves if we think it can be contained,” the queen said at the World Bank Group-IMF Spring Meetings, where forced displacement is a top issue on the agenda amid a refugee crisis that has spread from the Middle East into Europe over the last year. 

Queen Rania said Jordan has received 1.3 million Syrian refugees over the past five years. The influx has been a “demographic shock that is exhausting our social and physical infrastructure to its absolute limits,” she said. International contributions have made up less than a third of Jordan’s expenses.

Four months after Paris, renewed urgency on climate action and financing

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World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim speaks with Ségolène Royal, France’s Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy, and Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England and chairman of the G20’s Financial Stability Board. © Dominic Chavez/World Bank

The world must move quickly to fulfill the promise of the climate change agreement reached in Paris four months ago and accelerate low-carbon growth, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said on the opening day of the Spring Meetings.

More than 190 countries came together last December to pledge to do their part to halt global warming. The result was an unprecedented agreement to keep warming below 2 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial times, with the goal of limiting warming to 1.5° C.