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Middle East and North Africa

Moving the Needle on Healthier Environments and Sustainable Development

Rachel Kyte's picture

Over the past few days of the World Bank/IMF spring meetings, it’s been exciting to see just how much interest and real commitment there is among the world’s finance ministers to move toward inclusive green growth and sustainable development.

Several finance ministers at the Rio breakfast with Ban Ki-moon, Bob Zoellick, and Christine Lagarde talked about the need for better national wealth measurements that incorporate natural resources. Some were already implementing new forms of natural capital accounting. Others wanted to know more.

They were absolutely clear about two things: They want better methodology, data, and evidence to help guide them on the path to sustainable development, and they see a clear role for the World Bank as a source of that knowledge.

Leaders offer advice to Arab World in transition

Donna Barne's picture

Experts from three countries that have undergone political and economic transitions had advice September 22 for Arab nations where citizens have taken to the streets demanding voice and participation.

One of the most important lessons: “Develop and nurture a culture of citizenship,” said Corazon Soliman, Philippines Secretary for the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

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.

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.

Gordon Brown hails education as the best anti-poverty program

Kavita Watsa's picture

World Bank Managing Director Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Global Campaign for Education’s youngest 1GOAL ambassador Nthabiseng Tshabalala of South Africa.

This morning, 69 million children would not have gone to school around the world. And of those who did, many did not learn what they should have. It is a good thing that education has such energetic champions as Queen Rania of Jordan and Gordon Brown, former UK Prime Minister, both of whom made strong statements today in New York in support of universal access to good-quality education.

“I have one goal—to advocate that every child receives a quality education,” said Queen Rania, who is the co-founder and co-chair of 1Goal , a campaign that was founded with the objective of ensuring that education for all would be a lasting impact of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Celebrating MDG successes

Kavita Watsa's picture

The Millennium Development Goals Awards ceremony last night in New York was a brief moment of celebration for the wonderful progress that some countries have made towards the goals. Even as we dwell this week on sobering statistics and the tough road ahead, these awards are an inspiring reminder that success is possible in the face of tremendous odds in poor countries.

A pivotal moment in the World Bank's history

Peter Stephens's picture

These Spring Meetings will probably be remembered for the capital increase – the first in 20 years – and the historic changes to the voice and representation of developing countries within the Bank. They are important milestones, and deserve to be recognized. But something much more profound is happening within the Bank, something that historians will look back on and regard as a pivotal moment in the organization’s evolution.

The key to understanding what is underway is Mr. Zoellick’s speech to the Woodrow Wilson Center on April 14. This was probably the most important speech by a Bank president since McNamara’s Nairobi speech of 1973 – even more important, I would argue, than Mr. Wolfensohn’s 1996 speech on corruption.  For the first time in many years, the Bank is at the leading edge of thinking about global trends. Mr. Zoellick’s blunt declaration that the era of the Third World is over and a new, more complex arrangement is emerging, challenges everyone at the Bank and everyone working in development to think and act differently. It sets in context why the reforms underway across many areas of the Bank are really necessary, why we need a new approach to investment lending, to knowledge, to our location and operation as a global bank. 

Peter Stephens on World Bank Reform

The end of the Third World does not mean that there are no poor countries, or that all countries are equally advantaged. It means the landscape has changed so much that our thinking and behavior must shift. To think of China, India, Brazil, Mexico, Russia, South Africa and Malaysia as developing countries seems anachronistic. Yes they have poverty and challenges, but… “developing”? They play a regional and global role of real significance. They have civil servants, academics and businesspeople as skilled as (and many more skilled than) World Bank staff. Developing just doesn’t capture it.

World Bank gets capital increase and reforms voting power

Sameer Vasta's picture

2010 World Bank Group / International Monetary Fund Spring Meetings Development Committee Meeting.

At a press conference earlier today, World Bank President announced that the Development Committee approved a capital increase, as well as proposed voting reform for the Bank. In his remarks, Mr. Zoellick talked about how these changes will affect the institution, as well as international development on the whole:

"This extra capital can be deployed to create jobs and protect the most vulnerable through investments in infrastructure, small and medium sized enterprises, and safety nets. The change in voting-power helps us better reflect the realities of a new multi-polar global economy where developing countries are now key global players. In a period when multilateral agreements between developed and developing countries have proved elusive, this accord is all the more significant."

A summary of the changes approved by the Development Committee:

  • An increase of $86.2 billion in capital for the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD).
  • A $200 million increase in the capital of the IFC.
  • A 3.13 percentage point increase in the voting power of Developing and Transition countries (DTCs) at IBRD, bringing them to 47.19 percent.
  • An increase in the voting power of Developing and Transition Countries at IFC to 39.48 percent.
  • An agreement to review IBRD and IFC shareholdings every five years with a commitment to equitable voting power between developed countries and DTCs over time.

Scaling Up Nutrition: Remembering the 'Forgotten MDG'

Julia Ross's picture

April 24, 2010- Washington DC. World Bank/IMF Spring Meetings. Meeting for a high-level nutrition roundtable in Washington—co-hosted by Canada, Japan, the United States, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the World Bank—ministers and other senior representatives heard how better nutrition. John Rwangombwa, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Rwanda

The consensus at today’s high-level meeting on “Scaling Up Nutrition” was this: the world can do better for its hungry children.  Many of the Ministers and donor agency leaders who spoke at the event acknowledged the global commitment to fighting malnutrition had fallen short.  As many as 3 million mothers and young children die each year due to lack of nutritious food.

OECD figures show that development aid for nutrition has been modest, with commitments of less than $300 million a year – one reason why nutrition has been labeled the “forgotten” Millennium Development Goal.

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