This year's World Bank World Development Report focuses on climate change and its effects on international development. The report emphasizes that developing countries are the most vulnerable to the negative impacts of climate change, and that a “climate-smart” world is possible if we act now, act together, and act differently.
Yesterday at the Annual Meetings in Istanbul, climate change experts addressed some of the issues from the World Development Report. World Bank Chief Economist Justin Lin, Norwegian State Secretary for International Development H.E. Hakon Gulbrandsen, and WDR Co-Director Marianne Fay spoke about the impact of the changing climate, re-iterating that developing countries will face 75 to 80 percent of the potential damage from global climate change.
To find out more, watch the full webcast of the press conference, or visit the WDR 2010 website. To learn more about the World Bank's work on the topic, visit the new Climate Change beta site or the climate change blog, Development in a Changing Climate.
Size does matter.
But it matters far more when you are one of the World Bank’s 40 member countries with populations under 1.5 million. These developing small states gathered together at the Bank’s annual meetings in Istanbul at the annual Small States Forum to show that, when they all agree, small can be powerful.
The World Bank’s small states, ranging from Suriname in South America, to Swaziland in Africa, to Vanuatu in the Pacific, met in a standing-room-only venue packed with attendees. The topic on the table was remittances, the huge cash flows sent home by economic migrants working in other countries.
Almost $4.5 billion in remittances poured into small states last year, dwarfing all financial aid packages. In some countries, remittances are greater than one-fifth of GDP. Of the world’s seven most remittance-dependent countries, four are small states: Tonga and Samoa in the Pacific, Lesotho in Africa and Guyana in South America. Overall, on average, remittances matter substantially more for small states than for their large larger developing counterparts. And the worry is that remittances are drying up in the face of the global financial crunch—with a projected decline of 9 percent this year, according to the presentation by the World Bank’s Chief Economist, Justin Lin.
Cape Verde’s Minister of Finance, Cristina Duarte, says remittances are a huge issue for her country, and one she eagerly discussed with her fellow small state colleagues. "We concentrated a lot on analyzing and discussing the role of remittances—how can we manage better remittances, which are an important capitals inflow for our country." The bottom-line according to Duarte: no single country can survive on its own.
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.
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.
- See Development Committee Communique for more info.
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.