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Donna Barne's blog

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.  

A visit from Michelle Obama and a $2.5 billion pledge to ‘let girls learn’

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Michelle Obama Excited by World Bank 2.5 Billion Pledge for Girls Education


U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama brought her passion for girls’ education and a powerful message to a packed World Bank atrium just ahead of Spring Meetings: Support education for adolescent girls, because it’s one of the smartest investments any country can make.

She was talking to the right audience — finance and development ministers entrusted with crucial spending decisions, development experts, and leaders from civil society, the private sector, and the media.

World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim praised Obama as a “tremendous champion for the rights of girls and women.” He announced that the Bank Group would invest $2.5 billion over five years in education projects directly benefiting adolescent girls. 

Spring Meetings webcasts feature Michelle Obama, Bill Gates, John Kerry, economy, climate change, and more

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2016 Spring Meetings Live Events

U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama and Microsoft founder Bill Gates are among the featured speakers at the first major gathering of the world’s finance and development leaders in 2016 – the Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank Group.

The global economy, climate change, refugees, and the digital divide are just a few of the topics on the agenda in the lead-up to the meetings the week of April 11. We’re webcasting 19 events in multiple languages featuring government ministers, experts, and CEOs.

Tune in Wednesday for a special event with Obama on educating adolescent girls. Later, the World Bank’s top economists will weigh in on economic growth in turbulent times, and Margaret Chan of the World Health Organization co-hosts a session on bringing mental health issues out of the shadows. 

Are billionaires good for growth?

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Rich People, Poor Countries

We are living in a world where the largest corporations are larger and the richest entrepreneurs are richer than ever before – and an increasing number of billionaires are based in emerging countries. Who are these tycoons and how important are they to their economies?

A new book by Caroline Freund aims to answer these questions by examining the characteristics and impact of 700 emerging-market billionaires whose net worth adds up to more than $2 trillion.

Rich People, Poor Countries: The Rise of Emerging-Market Tycoons and Their Mega Firms finds that very large firms are export superstars in their home countries.

In the United States the top 1% of firms account for 80% of exports. In emerging countries, the top 1% account for 50% of exports but that figure is rising rapidly, Freund said at a book launch at the World Bank’s Infoshop on March 23.

Year in Review: 2015 in 12 charts

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Now that we've reached the end of 2015, it's clear this was a year of major milestones, emerging trends, and new beginnings. Among other things, 2015 marked a historic drop in poverty, a major climate change agreement, and record low child and maternal mortality rates. Take a look at what the data show.

1. The Global Poverty Rate Fell below 10%

#EndPoverty images tell a powerful story

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Image of Radha, a rag-picker in Jaipur, India © Tierney Farrell

​In the photo, a beautiful woman named Radha holds her young child in a bleak landscape strewn with refuse. The photo caption reveals she is a rag-picker in Jaipur, India, one of millions making a living from collecting and selling the things other people throw away. We learn that shortly after the photo was taken, her husband died. 

Radha’s image and story, captured by photographer and artist Tierney Farrell (@tierneyfarrell) in June 2014, was one of 10 photographs selected by National Geographic Your Shot as winners of the  #endpoverty hashtag challenge this summer.

In a note to the photographer, National Geographic’s Erika Larsen explained why the photo was chosen: “This is a beautiful image but more importantly you have given us a story. You have followed her life for an amount of time and made us care about her situation.”

In Lima, inequality debate focuses on women, youth, and taxes

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Paraisopolis, São Paulo, Brazil. © Tuca Vieira


​Can we end extreme poverty in a world with extreme inequality? That question inspired a spirited debate in English and Spanish on Oct. 7, just ahead of the World Bank Group-IMF Annual Meetings in Lima, Peru, addressing corruption, taxation, discrimination against women, and the need to even the playing field for the younger generation.

Latin America’s experience with inequality was front and center at the live-streamed event, Inequality, Opportunity, and Prosperity, featuring World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim, Ibero-American Secretary General Rebeca Grynspan, Oxfam International Chair Juan Alberto Fuentes Knight,  and moderated by CNN Español news anchor Patricia Janiot.

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