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2009 Annual Meetings to focus on road to recovery

Nina Vucenik's picture

2009 Annual Meetings

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.

Annual Meetings preparations under way

Sameer Vasta's picture

Istanbul, by maistora

You might be noticing a few changes over here on the World Bank Meetings Center over the next few days — the elements around the main blog post area are slowly changing in preparation for the Annual Meetings.

The Annual Meetings are being held in Istanbul in early October, and over the next few weeks, we'll be bringing you updates about the run-up to the Meetings, as well as updates from Istanbul and the Meetings themselves.

Wrapping up the 2009 Spring Meetings.

Sameer Vasta's picture

April 26 2009 - Washington DC. World Bank/IMF Spring Meetings 2009. Development Committee Meeting. Photo: © Simone D. McCourtie / World Bank

The 2009 Spring Meetings have now come to a close. We hope that you enjoyed getting a quick look at some of the events and announcements coming out of this year's Meetings, and that this blog was a useful way to get quick snippets of information and insight from this past weekend's proceedings.

April 26 2009 - Washington DC. World Bank/IMF Spring Meetings 2009. Development Committee Meeting. Robert B. Zoellick, World Bank President; Dominiqu Strauss Kahn, Managing Director. International Monetary Fund. Photo: © Simone D. McCourtie / World Bank This blog will stay live in its current state (as will the Spanish version) until the next round of World Bank meetings, most probably the Annual Meetings taking place this fall. Until then, feel free to go through the archives, or click through the daily highlights (in the sidebar to your right) to get targeted information about some of the big events and announcements that took place.

I also encourage you to visit our Videos section on the blog, where you'll be able to find all the short interviews we did with some of the people attending the Spring Meetings, asking them about the Bank's role in the current financial crisis. Feel free to embed those videos on your own sites if you find them interesting — and if you can, let us know when you do!

I'll sign off now, but if you have any questions or feedback about the blog and why we decided to pilot it for this set of Meetings, feel free to use the contact form or leave us a comment. Thanks!

African ministers address financial crisis

Sameer Vasta's picture

At a recent press conference, three African finance chiefs chastised international credit rating agencies for failing to forecast the global financial crisis and challenged international financial institutions to do a better job of monitoring the global economy and of holding rich and developing countries accountable in the same way.

The Ministers from Zambia, Cote d’Ivoire and Tanzania spoke about the crisis and its effect on Africa. Mustafa Mkulo, Tanzania’s Minister for Finance and Economic Affairs, said:

"This crisis has come when African governments have taken broad based measures to reform their economies, followed by significant achievements. It is now threatening to wipe out our gains of the past ten years and disrupt all our plans for further progress."

More information:

Bank to give Mexico $205 million for swine flu

Nina Vucenik's picture

Augustin Carstens, Development Committee Chair, Finance Minister, MexicoAt the Development Committee closing press conference, Bank President Bob Zoellick together with Agustín Carstens, who is Mexico's Finance Minister as well as Development Committee Chair, announced that the Bank is giving Mexico more than $205 million to help the country fight the Swine Flu virus.

According to news reports, the virus has killed up to 81 people in Mexico city and a sickened more than a thousand people since the outbreak began.

“We're extremely grateful for the prompt response by the World Bank -- such promptness is always very, very appreciated,” said Carstens. “But beyond resources, what is also important is all the experience that the World Bank has accumulated in precisely having assisted other countries in this type of situation."

The project will be fast-tracked so that funds can be disbursed within 3-5 weeks.

Spring Meetings conclude with Development Committee press conference

Nina Vucenik's picture

April 26, 2009 - Washington DC. World Bank/IMF Spring Meetings 2009. Development Committee Press Briefing. (l-r) Robert B. Zoellick, World Bank Group President; Augustin Carstens, Development Committee Chair, Finance Minister, Mexico; Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Managing Director, International Monetary Fund

The Spring Meetings 2009 finished earlier today with the final Development Committee press conference, held by Development Committee Chair, Minister Agustín Carstens, World Bank President Robert Zoellick, and IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

(l-r) Augustin Carstens Developemnt Committee Chair, Finance Minister, Mexico; Robert B. Zoellick, World Bank President; Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Managing Director International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Speaking on behalf of the Development Committee, Carstens in his opening remarks stressed that "All members of the Development Committee recognized that this is the critical time for developing countries. Impacts from the financial crisis are hitting them hard...The financial crisis is turning into a human and development calamity. Many people have already been driven into absolute poverty."

"In this sense, the Development Committee called on countries to translate their commitments into concerted action and additional resources.  We welcome member countries' commitments to a substantial increase in resources for the IMF and we urged all donors to accelerate delivery of commitments to increase aid, and to also consider going beyond existing commitments. We welcome the leadership of the Bank Group and IMF in helping developing countries respond to the crisis,” he said.

 

In his remarks, Zoellick stressed that “there is a widespread recognition that the world faces an unprecedented economic crisis, poor people could suffer the most, and that we must continue to act in real time to prevent a human catastrophe.”    

“Before this crisis, the Millennium Development Goals on overcoming poverty by 2015 already looked like a stretch. Our latest research shows that most of these eight globally agreed goals are unlikely to be met.”
 
“No one knows how long this crisis will last. We also do not know the pace of the recovery. The Bank’s finances have been prudently run and we are therefore currently in a strong position to help our partner countries,” Zoellick said.

  • See the Bank’s Financial Crisis webpage to learn more about the Bank’s initiatives to help poor countries deal with the crisis.

 

Improving capacity building in post-conflict and fragile settings

Nina Vucenik's picture

Young children in school. Ghana. Photo: © Curt Carnemark / World BankThree African ministers shared their experience with Bank officials on Thursday when they met to discuss ways to develop capacity in post-conflict countries.

 “We are here to listen—tell us how we can better assist you. And please, be frank,” said Obiageli Ezekwesili, World Bank Africa Region Vice President.

Ezekwesili asked the ministers from Liberia, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to discuss capacity development efforts in their countries, and to identify what has and has not worked, and how donors can provide more effective support for human development, infrastructure, and public sector reforms.

Several common themes emerged from the ministers’ interventions, including:

  • Donors prioritizing support for primary and secondary education, and not higher education
  • Donors pressing a “one size fits all” approach on countries, trying to replicate programs that were successful elsewhere
  • The failure by expatriate advisors in civil service posts to transfer their knowledge and skills to local counterparts
  • Tension among returning members of the Diaspora and local populations that stayed behind, partly around incentive structures for civil service
  • An urgent need to deliver skills-training and create job opportunities for young ex-combatants
     

South Africa. Photo: Trevor Samson / World BankAugustine Ngafaun, Minister of Finance for Liberia, outlined the enormity of the challenges facing his country, which has “75 percent of the educational facilities destroyed” combined with a “massive brain drain” as a result of professionals fleeing during Liberia’s recent conflict.

“We have very few doctors, teachers and hardly any engineers,” said Ngafaun, Liberia's Minister of Finance.

He also noted that, despite the importance of the mining sector for Liberia’s growth, there are not even five geologists in the entire country.

Rwanda’s Finance Minister James Musoni noted that even though the reconstruction challenges were daunting, his country has made significant progress since the 1994 genocide. He said it is crucial for the donor community to understand the context in which each country operates, as in some cases the political leadership may not be ready.

Ezekwesili stressed the need to build confidence in all sectors, pointing out that “development solutions work only to the extent that the capacities of the nation-state, the private sector, and civil society are strong.”

“The lack of capacity is magnified by the stress of the post conflict environment,” Ezekwesili said. 

Story: Improving Capacity Building in Post-conflict and Fragile Settings—African Ministers Share their Experience

Youth Unemployment in Africa

Nina Vucenik's picture


Laborer working on an irrigation project. Tanzania. Photo: Scott Wallace / World BankExperts on youth and employment from Ghana, Kenya, Mali, and Colombia met on Saturday as the Spring Meetings got underway to discuss the growing problem of youth unemployment in Africa. The high-level panel, chaired by Obiageli Ezekwesili, World Bank vice president for the Africa Region, agreed that there are no easy solutions to the problem.


“Youth in urban areas are looking for jobs alongside thousands of others from the same schools, while rural youth are flooding into the cities looking for work,” said Sanoussi Toure, the Minister of Finance of Mali. “This is a tragedy. Our policies favor investment in education and training, but this investment has not led to job creation.”

Key points that came out of the meeting included:

  • There are no easy solutions to the problem of youth unemployment. 
  • Youth employment has to be part of the growth strategy of every African country.
  • Employment policies need to favor investment in education and training.

 

Portrait of woman. Kenya. Photo: © Curt Carnemark / World Bank The panel also included Mauricio Cárdenas, former Colombian Minister of Transport and Economic Planning. Cárdenas talked about the outcomes of two youth programs Colombia put in place during his country's economic crisis in the late 1990s, when external shocks drove unemployment from 10 to 20 percent, and youth unemployment to 30 percent.

It is clear that youth unemployment in Africa needs to be addressed from many entry points, Ezekwesili said in her concluding remarks.

“The profile of unemployed youth has to enter the way we think, just as gender has. Youth need to be effectively targeted in everything we do, so that they will have a stake in the future,” Ezekwesili said.

Story: Youth Unemployment a Major Challenge for African Countries

World Bank Group and development partners team up on infrastructure investment

Angie Gentile's picture

Flanked by the finance and development ministers of France and Germany, World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick launched two initiatives today that together are expected to mobilize more than $55 billion in financing for infrastructure projects over the next three years.

The multibillion dollar initiatives—the Infrastructure Recovery and Assets (INFRA) platform and Infrastructure Crisis Facility—were created to address the falloff in funding for the construction of roads, water systems, power generation and distribution, and other critical infrastructure.

There is no doubt infrastructure plays a huge role in economic growth and development, Zoellick said.

“In this crisis, we will need more and more to identify creative ways to mobilize additional financing. This facility sends an important market signal,” encouraging the private sector to continue infrastructure investment and development.

April 25, 2009 - Washington DC. World Bank/IMF Spring Meetings 2009. (l-r) Christine Lagarde, Minister of Finance, France; Roger Morier, World Bank; Robert B. Zoellick, World Bank President; Hannfried von Hindenburg, IFC; Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, Development Minister, Germany. Credit: Simone McCourtie, World Bank

France and Germany became the first to sign on to the Infrastructure Crisis Facility with commitments of about $660 million through German development bank KfW and roughly $1.3 billion through French development bank Proparco.

INFRA is designed to help countries offset the negative effects of the financial crisis on their infrastructure services and investment programs, with up to $45 billion available over the next three years. Assistance will be global, but Africa is expected to see a large share of the funding.

The Infrastructure Crisis Facility, administered by IFC, a private sector branch of the Bank Group, is expected to attract more than $10 billion to help bridge the infrastructure financing gap.

At today’s signing, German Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul appealed to industrialized countries to support the initiative and take into account the situation in developingFrench Finance Minister Christine Lagarde countries. “They’re not responsible for the crisis. We have a special responsibility to be at their side.”

French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde added: This is a time “when we can put our money where our mouth is and commit to deliver…I think the World Bank has done an outstanding job dealing with issues that are difficult. This is a good illustration of how projects should be conducted. They should be focused where they can actually make a difference.”

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On a related note, I caught up earlier today with the Bank’s director for energy, transport and water, Jamal Saghir, who said the Bank’s Board has approved $9 billion in infrastructure projects already this fiscal year. That puts the Bank 47 percent ahead of the amount of infrastructure funding approved this time last year.

Saghir gave a shout-out to staff, who he credited with working hard to speed up project implementation to respond to the crisis.

For more information

 

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