It's important to have an international forum where leading thinkers can exchange ideas about how to reduce poverty and how to promote growth in low income countries. I'm delighted that, since its inauguration 22 years ago, the Annual Bank Conference on Development Economics (ABCDE) has served this purpose by connecting leading thinkers, practitioners, and students. Now more than ever, we need active and constructive debate about job creation, reducing inequality, empowering women, and improving our approaches to human capital formation and training youth. The Development Economics Vice Presidency that I lead is enthusiastic in its continued support for this forum.
Three interlinked global crises—food, economic, climate—were high on the agenda of this year’s Bank-IMF Spring Meetings. At a conference organized by the Independent Evaluation Group and World Bank Institute, a panel of experts—Kristalina Georgieva, European Commissioner; Hans Herren, President, Millennium Institute; Trevor Manuel, Minister, National Planning Commission, South Africa; Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Managing Director, World Bank; Robert Watson, Chief Scientific Advisor, Government of UK— discussed not only the impact of each crisis, but crucially the links among them in seeking joint solutions.
In a blog post by Molly Norris and Joshua Powell for the End Poverty in South Asia blog, they talk about Bangladesh as "ground zero" at the intersection of climate change and food security.
"The country is widely recognized as one of the places most vulnerable to the effects of a changing climate, which strains food systems alongside rapidly growing and urbanizing populations. Yet, despite these dual challenges, the World Bank expects Bangladesh will meet its Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of halving the number of people living in extreme poverty by 2015," they write.
The Bank's Special Envoy for Climate Change told the Americas Conference that the region is at the forefront of climate change efforts in the lead-up to Cancun's COP16 summit later this year.
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.
This year's World Bank World Development Report focuses on climate change and its effects on international development. The report emphasizes that developing countries are the most vulnerable to the negative impacts of climate change, and that a “climate-smart” world is possible if we act now, act together, and act differently.
Yesterday at the Annual Meetings in Istanbul, climate change experts addressed some of the issues from the World Development Report. World Bank Chief Economist Justin Lin, Norwegian State Secretary for International Development H.E. Hakon Gulbrandsen, and WDR Co-Director Marianne Fay spoke about the impact of the changing climate, re-iterating that developing countries will face 75 to 80 percent of the potential damage from global climate change.
To find out more, watch the full webcast of the press conference, or visit the WDR 2010 website. To learn more about the World Bank's work on the topic, visit the new Climate Change beta site or the climate change blog, Development in a Changing Climate.
Representatives from civil society organizations around the world converged at the Istanbul Conference Center yesterday for a special Townhall meeting with World Bank President Robert Zoellick and IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn.
Just guestimating here, but I’d say there were about 300 CSOs in the room.
At the head of the table was moderator Archbishop Winston Njongonkulu Ndungane, who set the tone by noting how times have changed, with the World Bank and IMF engaging much more closely with CSOs these days.
The Archbishop posed three questions to inform the discussion: How can we work together to avoid another financial crisis? What can the Bank and Fund do to make sure the world doesn’t backslide? And how do shifts in power give those most affected by the crisis a chance to impact the response?
Yesterday 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.
Every fall, Governors of the World Bank Group and the IMF meet to discuss progress on the work of the two institutions. The joint World Bank-IMF Development Committee and the International Monetary and Financial Committee are also convened.
This year’s meetings will focus on the impact of the financial crisis and the ensuing global recession on developing countries, as well as solutions to help countries hit hard by the downturns in capital flows, trade, remittances, and tourism.
Governors are expected to discuss the Bank’s financial capacity as it continues to meet the demand from countries coping with the crisis. In fiscal year 2009, the Bank Group committed nearly $60 billion to help developing countries, which marked a 54 percent increase over the previous year and was a record high.
Other issues on the agenda include the impact of climate change on developing countries and the World Bank's role, against the backdrop of the upcoming climate change negotiations in Copenhagen. Climate change complicates efforts to reduce poverty in developing countries, but a “climate smart” world is possible if we act now, act together, and act differently, according to the latest World Development Report.
Governors are expected to reflect on the results of IDA15 to date. The International Development Association (IDA) is part of the World Bank that provides grants and no-interest loans to the poor countries. A mid-term review of IDA15 gets underway in November.