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Americas conference tackles Latin America's thorny Issues

Carlos Molina's picture

In the lead-up to the World Bank-IMF Annual Meetings, the Latin America and Caribbean Region VPU of the World Bank is co-hosting and attending the Americas Conference.

The Americas Conference got off to a good start today after addressing two of the most pressing issues facing the region: the impact of the financial crisis, that has engulfed Latin America for more than a year, and the political impasse that is rocking democracy in Honduras.

A group of World Bank experts told the meeting of Government and business leaders that Latin America is turning the corner vis-a-vis the financial crisis -one of the region’s worst-, as some countries were already showing signs of an early recovery.

A Renewed Faith in Public Investment

Marcelo Giugale's picture

In the lead-up to the World Bank-IMF Annual Meetings, the Latin America and Caribbean Region VPU of the World Bank is co-hosting and attending the Americas Conference.

As the dust settles in Latin America in the wake of the global financial crisis, along with the tough challenges ahead for the economic recovery, there seem to be unique opportunities to improve our region’s long-term outlook.

I have no doubt that this important Miami Conference –where Latin America converges in many ways, cultural and economic- is the ideal place to bring these ideas to the table and kick off a fruitful debate.

After the Crisis—World Bank President lays out vision for new global system

Angie Gentile's picture

Zoellick SAIS speech, After the CrisisOn the eve of the 2009 World Bank-IMF Annual Meetings, Bank President Robert Zoellick called on world leaders to reshape the multilateral system and forge a “responsible globalization”—one that would encourage balanced global growth and financial stability, embrace global efforts to counter climate change, and advance opportunity for the poorest.

“Coming out of this crisis, we have an opportunity to reshape our policies, architecture, and institutions,” Zoellick said, speaking at the DC-based Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies of the Johns Hopkins University.

“As agreed in Pittsburgh last week, the G-20 should become the premier forum for international economic cooperation among the advanced industrialized countries and rising powers. But it cannot be a stand-alone committee,” the Bank’s president noted.

In a speech laden with historical references, he spoke of the legacy of institutions established to deal with the global economy some 60 years ago and how the economic crisis is contributing to a changing multilateral global architecture.

"Bretton Woods is being overhauled before our eyes," Zoellick said.

The crisis has underscored the growing importance of the large emerging economies. “The current assumption is that the post-crisis political economy will reflect the rising influence of China, probably of India, and of other large emerging economies,” Zoellick said. “[T]he Greenback’s fortunes will depend heavily on U.S. choices.”

An opportunity to project a dynamic post-crisis region

Sergio Jellinek's picture

In the lead-up to the World Bank-IMF Annual Meetings, the Latin America and Caribbean Region VPU of the World Bank is co-hosting and attending the Americas Conference.

I’ve no doubt that the upcoming Americas Conference has the potential to become a platform to project a more dynamic, competitive and democratic Latin America as it exits its worst financial and economic crisis in decades.

Costa Rica’s President Oscar Arias will attend the Miami forum as a special guest, whose voice is one of moderation and respect for the region’s diversity, but also of uncompromising commitment to the core values of democracy and peace.

His vision as chief mediator in the Honduras crisis and author of the San Jose Accord should provide an important contribution to discussions on the plight of this Central American nation.

Political stability in the region is, clearly, one of the key topics being addressed at the Miami conference, which lends particular relevance to the presence of former President and special UN envoy to Haiti, Bill Clinton.

Post-crisis debate likely to heat up in Miami setting

Carlos Molina's picture

In the lead-up to the World Bank-IMF Annual Meetings, the Latin America and Caribbean Region VPU of the World Bank is co-hosting and attending the Americas Conference.

Old rumors fill corridors and grand rooms mimmicking 12th century Sevillian architecture. Perhaps are distant echoes from heated discussions that shaped Government agendas in previous years.

Or maybe it’s just small talk. Either way, it isn’t a stretch of the imagination to think about the Bushes, Clintons, Arias, Uribes or Bachelets of this world exchanging quick policy jabs within the corridors of the historic Biltmore walls as part of the decade-old Americas Conference, only a few days away now from trying to ignite once again an animated debate about the region’s political and economic future.

Cocooned in its limbo of palm trees and warm Miami breeze, the Biltmore Hotel seems to spur high stakes decision-making that has truly contributed to the region’s history -from Free Trade Agreements to Plan Colombia –while serving as a vacation hub for countless royalty and regional elites since the hotel was built in 1926.

In its first effort of this kind, the World Bank has joined this prestigious Conference as a partner, in the hopes of further engaging in a dialogue with the region as it exits the global financial crisis.

The latest move is part of the World Bank Group’s proactive approach to the crisis. It already has contributed an unprecedented US$17 billion in FY09 –triple previous annual commitments- to help countries in the region weather the financial crisis.

Global Monitoring Report 2009 Released

Sameer Vasta's picture

Global Monitoring Report 2009 Press Briefing. Justin Lin, WB Chief Economist. Photo: © Simone D. McCourtie / World Bank

Yesterday, the IMF and the World Bank released the 2009 Global Monitoring Report, saying that the global financial crisis is imperiling attainment of the 2015 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and creating an emergency for development.

Justin Lin, World Bank Chief Economist, spoke about the crisis at the launch of the report:

"Worldwide, we have an enormous loss of wealth and financial stability. Millions more people will lose their jobs in 2009, and urgent funding must be provided for social safety nets, infrastructure, and small businesses in poor countries, for a sustainable recovery."

For more information:

BBC World holds debate on global recession at World Bank headquarters

Angie Gentile's picture

BBC World Debates

 
BBC World yesterday hosted a debate at World Bank headquarters in Washingtonon on how the world's poorest are being affected by the global economic downturn and what can be done to avert a major international human disaster. While the rich world pours billions of dollars into banks and companies, why can’t it spare more for the poorest nations now suffering the effects of the downturn, asked BBC Host Zeinab Badawi.

The five-person panel–including World Bank President Robert Zoellick, German Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, Mozambique Prime Minister Luisa Dias Diogo, Indian economic planner Montek Singh Ahluwalia, and activist Bob Geldof—agreed that a solution to the crisis can’t be business as usual and needs to come now.

Bob Geldolf at BBC World DebatesUnlike the tsunami of 2004, the victims of the financial crisis aren’t so easy to visualize, said Wieczorek-Zeul, making it harder for governments to commit aid money. But there are victims. An estimated 200,000 to 400,000 children will die annually as a result of the crisis, she noted.

Zoellick stressed that for those in the developing world, the crisis isn’t a matter of losing your financial cushion—it’s a matter of eating, of going to school. And the impact won’t end when the crisis ends; it will be felt over a generation.

Responding to the crisis with economic isolationism and protectionism will only hurt everyone, especially the world’s poorest, Zoellick added.

Prime Minister Diogo warned that if we don’t act, there is a potential for instability. “Instability increases nervousness… poverty increases conflict,” said Geldof.

A number of panelists noted that the G20 meeting in London last month was the beginning of the basis for a new global architecture.

“We’re living through an historic period,” said Geldof. “It could all still collapse. There must be new rules for a new world. We must include the most vulnerable on this planet. If not, the 21st Century is up for grabs.”

“We all agree that a global problem requires a global solution with global ownership,” said Ahluwalia.

The debate airs on BBC World on Saturday, April 25.

(More photos at the Spring Meetings Flickr set.)

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