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annual meetings

Developing countries share their development knowledge

Alison Schafer's picture

October 4 2009 -World Bank/IMF Annual Meetings. Istanbul, Turkey. Innovating Development the South South Opportunity with Ngzo Okono-Iweala, World Bank Managing Director. The Initiative celebrates it first year.

The World Bank’s South-South exchange is big on talk-talk.

But that is the whole point, and the South-South exchange has been so popular that the program is expanding.

The idea behind South-South is to get developing countries to share their knowledge and ideas about projects. The projects range from water power in Tajikistan, to keeping boys out of trouble in the Caribbean, to harnessing Indian expertise to train eight African countries how to offer IT services.

 

 

South-South has only been in existence for one year, but the World Bank Group’s Ngozi Okonjo Iweala says it has already funded 35 grants — and, she says, there’s “a great deal of excitement” surrounding the program.

South-South relies on peer relationships, and Okonjo Iweala says it is clear that the group that makes up the World Bank’s initiative have much to share with each other.

Remittances a huge issue for small states

Alison Schafer's picture

Jeffrey S Gutman, Vice President, OPCS, World BankSize does matter.

But it matters far more when you are one of the World Bank’s 40 member countries with populations under 1.5 million.  These developing small states gathered together at the Bank’s annual meetings in Istanbul at the annual Small States Forum to show that, when they all agree, small can be powerful.

The World Bank’s small states, ranging from Suriname in South America, to Swaziland in Africa, to Vanuatu in the Pacific, met in a standing-room-only venue packed with attendees.  The topic on the table was remittances, the huge cash flows sent home by economic migrants working in other countries.

Almost $4.5 billion in remittances poured into small states last year, dwarfing all financial aid packages. In some countries, remittances are greater than one-fifth of GDP. Of the world’s seven most remittance-dependent countries, four are small states: Tonga and Samoa in the Pacific, Lesotho in Africa and Guyana in South America. Overall, on average, remittances matter substantially more for small states than for their large larger developing counterparts. And the worry is that remittances are drying up in the face of the global financial crunch—with a projected decline of 9 percent this year, according to the presentation by the World Bank’s Chief Economist, Justin Lin.

 

Cape Verde’s Minister of Finance, Cristina Duarte, says remittances are a huge issue for her country, and one she eagerly discussed with her fellow small state colleagues. "We concentrated a lot on analyzing and discussing the role of remittances—how can we manage better remittances, which are an important capitals inflow for our country." The bottom-line according to Duarte: no single country can survive on its own.

Interactive timeline highlights key financial crisis events

Sameer Vasta's picture

The World Bank Financial Crisis page now features an interactive financial crisis timeline that lets you see major events that have occurred during the crisis, as well Bank stories, reports, videos and photos that are related to the crisis.

Financial Crisis Timeline Screenshot

Also on the Financial Crisis page: videos from World Bank experts on the crisis, feature stories about the impact of the crisis, and a brief overview of the financial crisis and the Bank's work.

Fragile States should not be forgotten while dealing with the international crisis

William Byrd's picture

Fragile States Panel. Photo: Geetanjali Chopra

Yesterday an exciting panel of committed global experts and international leaders spoke compellingly about the extreme problems faced by countries affected by fragility and conflict, and what can be done. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (Managing Director of the World Bank) asked probing questions to the panel of Paul Collier (The Bottom Billion, and Wars, Guns and Votes), Donald Kaberuka (President of the African Development Bank, former Finance Minister of Rwanda), and George Soros (Open Society Institute, Soros Foundation).

 
I will write a more systematic summary paper later; here I am just trying to capture some memorable points that struck me from the lively discussion and debate.

Fragile States Panel. Photo: Geetanjali ChopraOn the one hand a sense of optimism, that the problems of fragile states can be addressed, the world is much more aware of these problems, and fragility is not a permanent condition, although it will require much more money and greater accountability, as well as strong leadership in the countries themselves.

On the other hand the recognition that helping countries move out of fragility and conflict is a long-term and thankless task, the dynamics of these countries often put them in a downward spiral, and it is essential to take advantage of windows of opportunity when they arise – whether at the end of a conflict or when there is political change (because once the windows are gone they are gone), and then have staying power. Deterioration can occur quickly, whereas rebuilding takes years and decades. Important not to lose hope.

Don’t bypass the state but rather use aid to help these countries build institutions, was a key message of the seminar.

More money for fragile and conflict affected countries (although it is tiny in relation to what has been spent on the global financial and economic crisis) needs to be accompanied by greater accountability. There are promising ideas, some of which have begun to be put into practice, that need to be scaled up and taken farther.

InterAction's Sam Worthington chats about the World Bank and civil society

Sameer Vasta's picture

This morning I had the chance to chat with Sam Worthington, the President and CEO of InterAction, who is attending the Civil Society Forum here in Istanbul. Sam took some time between the sessions of the CSO Forum to tell me a little about InterAction, the work that they are doing with the World Bank, and what he hopes to come out of the Annual Meetings in Turkey this year.

You can watch the entire 5-minute chat below:

 

 

MENA: Economists finding some good news

Alison Schafer's picture

In Istanbul, World Bank economists taking a hard look at how the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are weathering the financial crisis are finding some good news. The World Bank and the IMF are holding their annual meetings in Turkey, and a status update on the MENA region shows some resilience.

Shamshad Akhtar, the World Bank’s new vice president for the region, said at a press conference today that MENA’s economy grew by almost 6.2 percent in 2008. But Akhtar says the region has been shaken by what she calls the “Triple-F phenomena”—food, fuel and the financial crisis. She says the food crisis has hit the region hardest, in part because of a growing population and a heavy dependence on imported food. But, she says, despite slowing growth, down to 2.2 percent, the region is faring better than many others.

 

 

Akhtar told reporters: “The key message we retain from all this is: the MENA region has weathered the triple crisis well so far.” But there is an “immediate danger of rising unemployment and resurgence of poverty.”

What's on the agenda?

Nina Vucenik's picture

Augustin Carstens, Development Committee Chair, Finance Minister, MexicoThe Development Committee is scheduled to meet on Monday, October 5.

The committee is a forum of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund that facilitates intergovernmental consensus-building on development issues. Its mandate is to advise the Boards of Governors of the Bank and the Fund on critical development issues and on the financial resources required to promote economic development in developing countries.

At their meeting, the Development Committee will review the Bank's financial capacity to provide assistance to countries coping with the economic crisis and beyond, and discuss the issue of "voice" (ensuring people from all parts of the world have a say in key issues that affect them).

Archbishop Ndungane: ‘We should be intentional about what CSOs are saying’

Angie Gentile's picture

Archbishop Winston Njongonkulu Ndungane, World Bank-IMF Annual Meetings, Istanbul. Photo credit: Simone D. McCourtie/World BankYesterday I caught up with the stately Archbishop Winston Njongonkulu Ndungane, who is attending the Civil Society Forum here in Istanbul. The Archbishop carved out some time to meet before heading off to head a CSO Townhall meeting featuring Bank President Zoellick and IMF Chief Strauss-Kahn.

Archbishop Ndungane is the founder and president of African Monitor, an independent pan-African nonprofit whose main objective is to monitor aid flows, what African governments do with the money, and what impact it has.

 African Monitor holds poverty hearings through which they seek to magnify voices. “We pride ourselves in having the confidence of people on the ground—the voice of people—and taking those voices to the corridors of power,” the Archbishop told me.

Archbishop Ndungane talked about linking up the creative and innovative minds of CSOs with the World Bank on today’s key issues—hunger, climate change, financial crisis. He emphasized the need to develop mechanisms for translating ideas into action.

Annual Meetings get underway

Angie Gentile's picture

Istanbul Congress Center. Photo credit: Simone D. McCourtie/World BankThe buzz is building in Istanbul, our beautiful host city, as delegates, press and CSOs from around the world begin pouring in for the 2009 joint Annual Meetings of the World Bank and IMF.

The press room opened Monday, providing temporary work quarters for the more than 1,200 registered media who are covering the events over the next week for news outlets large and small.

They are joined by representatives from civil society organizations here to take part in a Civil Society Policy Forum being held from October 2-7. The event is jointly organized by the World Bank Group and IMF civil society teams. The forum will bring together Bank and Fund staff, CSO representatives, including from Oxfam, Civicus and Africa Monitor, to name a few, along with government officials, academics, and others to exchange views on a variety of topics ranging from the global economic crisis and climate change, to governance reform. Bank President Robert B. Zoellick and Fund Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn will co-host a CSO townhall meeting Friday afternoon.

Ask your question and join the debate on 'What Now? The World Beyond the Crisis'

Nina Vucenik's picture

How should the world look after the global financial and economic crisis?

A special high-level panel will discuss the world post the global economic crisis on Friday, October 2, in Istanbul during the Annual Meetings.

The panel will feature Robert B. Zoellick, Bank Group President; H. E. Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Minister of Finance, Indonesia; H.E. Mahmoud Mohieldin, Minister of Investment, Egypt; Ms. Eleni Gabre-Madhin, CEO, Ethiopian Commodity Exchange; and Professor Paul Collier, Department of Economics, University of Oxford.

The debate will be recorded on Friday, October 2, and will be broadcast over the next two days on France 24.

The panel is taking questions from people from around the world. If you have any questions for the panelists, you can ask them directly through Speak Out, our online chat, and we will pass them on.

 

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