December 14, 2020: A busy week in review


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As we approach the end of the calendar year, last week was an especially busy one, and I would like to highlight some of my writings and engagements.

On Monday, I joined the G7 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors and gave an update on our grant and lending activity, debt reduction and transparency efforts, preparations for COVID-19 vaccines, and the Sudan arrears clearing urgency.

  • In 2020, we are on track to deliver a surge to roughly $70 billion in IBRD and IDA financing, up two-thirds from the average and the highest level ever. IFC and MIGA have also rapidly expanded.
  • On vaccinations, we are completing needs assessments for 100 countries and will bring country vaccination financing operations to our Board shortly.
  • On debt, although the G20’s Common Framework for Debt moves a step closer to debt relief, there’s the risk of doing too little. The current round of debt restructurings leaves interest rates high and provides too little concessionality or transparency. We're working with the IMF to strengthen the methodology for assessing debt sustainability, and, where debt is unsustainable, achieve deep debt reduction.
  • At the meeting, I joined the others in thanking G7 host Steven Mnuchin for his strong leadership and offered the World Bank Group's full support to the G7 chairmanship of the United Kingdom in 2021.

I spoke about all of the above, as well as the global economic outlook in the year ahead, at The Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council Forum on Wednesday with Kate Davidson; DevEx World on Thursday with Raj Kumar; and CSIS on Friday with Dan Runde.

With CSIS, I discussed development challenges, vaccines, debt, and why the inequality gap between poor and developed countries continues to widen and median incomes in the developing world haven’t been rising.

  • In particular, I identified trade barriers, vested interests and dual exchange rates as some of the key problems to be addressed.

On Wednesday, I was pleased to join the Atlantic Council’s new GeoEconomics Center, the Paulson Institute’s MacroPolo, and CNBC’s Eunice Yoon for a thoughtful panel on China’s economic policies and international policy interactions.

On Thursday, I joined the heads of multilateral development banks to update them on the World Bank Group’s COVID-19 vaccine readiness assessments.

  • I was happy to share with them more on our 35% climate co-benefits target, and the importance of climate benefits to development. I also focused on the importance of country-level cooperation to development projects, and the need for further reducing debt burdens on the world’s poorest.

I also wanted to make sure you saw my op-ed in the Financial Times from Thursday on education.

  • With learning metrics deteriorating during the pandemic shutdowns and the inequality gap widening, a safe return to school is a top priority for development. COVID-19 has underscored that education is a social experience, requiring investment in health protocols to protect teachers and students as they return to class.

On Saturday, I participated in the Climate Ambition Summit, co-hosted by the UN, UK, and France, highlighting the WBG’s new 35% climate co-benefits commitment, on average, over the next five years.

  • Last year saw the largest climate investments in our history and we intend to go even further. COVID-19, climate change, poverty and inequality, are all defining issues of our age.
  • We cannot succeed in helping countries reduce poverty without rising to the challenges of climate change, and the World Bank Group intends to do even more over the next five years.

I wish you and your families all the best, and a happy and healthy holiday season.

This post was originally published on LinkedIn.

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