This year, the World Bank’s spring meetings are offering a rare opportunity for the heads of the United Nations, the World Bank Group, and the IMF to jointly talk to finance ministers from around the world about the critical importance of inclusive green growth and careful stewardship of the Earth’s natural resources.
The venue is a breakfast meeting this morning with over 30 national finance ministers. The meeting will be private – and powerful. We’re hoping for an open and frank discussion among ministers on how to achieve concrete outcomes at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio+20, in June.
The topics on the table range from how to mainstream the concept of inclusive green growth into countries' development strategies to what it will take to move beyond a traditional GDP focus and start incorporating wealth, including natural capital, into their national accounts.
By appearing together at what is billed as the “Rio Breakfast,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, World Bank President Robert Zoellick, and IMF Managing Director Christine LaGarde are sending a strong signal about the importance of sustainable development.
As we head toward Rio +20, we will all be talking more about what the world at every level should be doing to shift course away from waste, environment degradation, and inefficiency and onto the path to sustainable development.
Inclusive green growth, as I talked about earlier this week, will be an important part of that path.
Another key issue in sustainable development and for Rio +20 will be the damaged state of the world’s oceans and how we can come together as international institutions, government leaders, civil society, industry, coastal communities, foundations, and scientists to help governments globally improve the management of ocean resources to preserve ecosystems we all rely on. Members of the new Global Partnership for Oceans met on Thursday at the World Bank to begin setting goals and discussing the best ways these groups can all work together to bridge the gaps in the existing work on oceans to encourage sustainable stewardship of marine environments.
There is no one silver bullet for any of this, but working together we can share what works and provide actionable data and evidence from cutting-edge science and economics to assist leaders who are on the front lines and move at speed to scale.
With oceans, for example, the strength of the partnership will be its ability to work closely with countries and communities to provide a combination of scientific, technical, and policy expertise and investments to catalyze action. We have an opportunity now on oceans that we might not have in another 10 years. Decades of free-for-all exploitation along with pollution, climate change, and the dramatic degradation of coastal and marine habitats have put oceans and the economies they sustain on the brink of collapse. I urge you to visit the Global Partnership for Oceans website for a discussion of the challenges.