Setting the scene for next week’s Spring Meetings, World Bank President Robert Zoellick said today the world has changed since the financial crisis, the third world is gone and we now live in a multipolar economy.
At Washington, D.C.’s Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, Zoellick told an audience of diplomats, economists and international development specialists, “We are now in a new, fast-evolving, multipolar world economy, in which some developing countries are emerging as economic powers; others are moving towards becoming additional poles of growth, and some are struggling to attain their potential within this new system.”
“It is time we put old concepts of First and Third Worlds, leader and led, donor and supplicant behind us,” he said.
The speech drew several questions on the Bank’s response to the financial crisis and how it is helping developing countries adapt to the new global economy Zoellick described.
Zoellick discussed Africa’s “tremendous potential” for growth—to 2015, more than 6% average growth is anticipated—and emphasized the Bank’s commitment to telecommunications, energy and infrastructure projects there. He also cited the need for social safety nets in countries like Mexico, where conditional cash transfer projects have resulted in significant gains in maternal health.
Other important examples of the Bank’s work included initiatives to mitigate the food crisis, he said. Such projects have offered seeds and fertilizer to farmers in need, supported school lunch programs, and developed long-term drought forecasting capacity in Africa.