MDG Summit participants were off and running yesterday, speaking, blogging, Tweeting and texting from the main U.N. campus and at several marquee side events nearby.
A high-level “Education for All” advocacy session—focused on MDG 2, to achieve universal primary education—got the ball rolling, with Queen Rania of Jordan and former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown speaking out for universal access to quality schooling.
Over on the World Bank's climate change blog, Andrew Steer, Special Envoy for Climate Change, notes that the effects of climate change will be felt most acutely by the poor:
There is an old-fashioned view that rich countries can afford to think about climate change but developing countries have more urgent short-term needs. This is well and truly debunked by the evidence of where developing countries are putting their money. Four out of five countries we work with, list climate change among the top priorities for their anti-poverty plans. In the past twelve months, nearly 90% of Country Assistance Strategies requested by developing countries, and approved by the World Bank’s Board, listed climate change as one of the major pillars for World Bank support.
Read the full post.
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.
It’s been 10 years since the World Bank signed on to the Millennium Development Goals. At the time, I managed the Bank's HIPC initiative, providing debt relief for the most heavily indebted countries, and I remember the hope we all felt. I am now responsible for IDA—the World Bank’s fund for 79 of the poorest countries, for whom the MDGs are critical, and I can say that our commitment to these goals remains as strong today, if not stronger.
We have made considerable progress on many of the goals. Growth over the past decade has contributed to reductions in extreme poverty. In 1990, over 40 percent of the population in developing countries lived on less than $1.25 per day. By 2005, that share fell to roughly 25 percent and is expected to fall to 15 percent by 2015, more than meeting the goal to halve extreme poverty.
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.
Yesterday, I attended the TEDxWorldBankGroup event, entitled Global Challenges in the New Decade. This first TEDxWorldBankGroup event was organized by the Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) to add to the critical discussions taking place during the Spring Meetings. The event aimed to encourage conversation on gender, climate change, agriculture and water, and to find possible solutions to these global issues.
The speakers at the event were great and made excellent points about each of the chosen issues. One of the takeaways from the event was that the development community should act as one in addressing critical issues and take a wholesome approach to resolving global challenges instead of tackling them piecemeal.
Jason Clay, Senior Vice President of Market Transformation at World Wildlife Fund (WWF), who presented on water issues at the event said that every time the development community tries to maximize efforts in one area, it takes away from another; therefore looking at all of these issues as a whole is the most effective way to solve them for the future generations.
Happy Earth Day!
In advance of the Spring Meetings and just in time for Earth Day, the Bank kicked off its support for International Year of Biodiversity on Wednesday with a new edition of its flagship magazine, Environment Matters.
The magazine, "Banking on Biodiversity," was launched Wednesday by President Zoellick at a special event at the Bank's headquarters in Washingont DC to draw attention to the plight of the wild tiger, a potent symbol of the threat to biodiversity worldwide.
"We are using the appeal of these charismatic big cats as a clarion call," said President Zoellick, "to draw attention to the need to protect biodiversity and to remind people of the wildlife and wilderness we stand to lose if we do not balance conservation and economic development."
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.