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Pledging to ‘Bend the Arc of History,’ Kim Outlines Plan for a ‘Solutions Bank’

Donna Barne's picture

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World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim laid out his vision October 12 for transforming the institution into a “solutions bank” that uses evidence and experience to solve problems and listens more closely to the people coping with economic and social challenges in their daily life.

“… It is time to move from dreaming of a world free of poverty to achieving it,” Dr. Kim said at the opening plenary session of the 2012 Annual Meetings in Tokyo. The meeting was attended by representatives from the Bank’s 188 member countries and Japanese Crown Prince Naruhito.

“It is time to bend the arc of history. With global solidarity underpinned by a relentless drive for results, we can, we must, and we will build shared prosperity and end poverty,” Dr. Kim said.

Addressing the full membership of the World Bank for the first time as president, Dr. Kim said the Bank will establish a “clear and measurable bottom line” including “ambitious targets” for ending poverty and building shared prosperity, streamlined procedures and processes, and incentives for people working for or on behalf of the Bank who can bring results on the ground.

The plan includes strengthening evidence-based approaches to development by ensuring “virtually all developing countries have timely and accurate data,” said Dr. Kim. He added he would update the Development Committee on progress at the Spring Meetings in six months.

The Annual Meetings are taking place amid continued uncertainty in the global economy. Dr. Kim urged countries not to pull back from supporting growth in developing countries, but to “come together” to accelerate progress and make it possible for more people to participate in and benefit from development.

“If we are willing to make the effort, we can virtually eliminate extreme poverty. This goal is not farfetched – it is achievable. Together we can make it happen,” Dr. Kim said. He added the effort must involve those most affected.

“Through decades of development work I’ve learned that the best solutions to economic and social problems often lie with the individuals and communities coping with these challenges in their daily life. They have been my greatest teachers. We must listen to and act on their insights,” Dr. Kim said.

The Bank president said the Bank will be more focused on delivery of development solutions than ever before. “Most failures happen at delivery,” such as when heavy investments in primary education fail to ensure children are learning, said Dr. Kim.

“This is the next frontier for the World Bank Group – helping to advance a ‘science of delivery,’” he said. “Because we know that delivery isn’t easy – it’s not as simple as just saying ‘this works, this doesn’t.’ Effective delivery demands context-specific knowledge. It requires constant adjustments, a willingness to take smart risks, and a relentless focus on the details of implementation.”

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