As the year draws to a close, I would like to take this opportunity to highlight some of our work in 2020 and challenges ahead.
While some countries have begun a recovery from COVID-19, many continue to suffer lasting health and economic risks. The World Bank Group is working hard to address the unequal toll of the global pandemic. Since April, we have been providing support on an unprecedented scale, focusing first on the health emergency, as well as on the broader recovery goals and vaccination needs.
The Bank, IFC and MIGA have worked closely to provide a fast, broad response in terms of both substance and the delivery of financial support. We have partnered with the IMF on the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI), helping many of the poorest countries up resources and laying the groundwork for gains in debt transparency and a pathway to deep debt relief.
Building on the suspension of debt payments for the poorest countries, we need to foster greater debt and investment transparency, and help countries reduce their debt burden. Debt reduction and burden sharing will be an important component to address unsustainable debt loads and invite growth and investment.
Climate finance remains a cornerstone of our work as we build toward a greener recovery. Last year saw the largest climate investments in our history, and we are committed to further increases. Embracing good ideas like low-carbon infrastructure and more environmentally friendly agriculture can help countries rebuild toward a greener, stronger future.
Beyond the COVID-19 response and vaccinations, the World Bank Group is helping respond to a host of crises, including the locust plague, food insecurity, the Beirut explosion, and the challenges facing FCV countries worldwide. Our knowledge work – both global and at the country level – underpins all of our operational engagements and is an important development service in itself.
While the scale of challenges ahead in 2021 is enormous, I am confident that we will continue to have an impact that achieves good development outcomes. We will need to keep expanding opportunities for women, the poor, and vulnerable groups and helping counteract violence, malnutrition, and joblessness. Conflict and climate change present immense challenges for poverty reduction. While recent progress on vaccines offers hope of an end to the pandemic, it will be a huge task to support access for those who need it most.
As we work together to help expand opportunities for people around the world and improve lives, I urge flexibility that embraces new tasks, approaches, partners and colleagues. The holidays are a time for rest and reflection, and even as we review the daunting challenges of the year behind us, I am positive about the year ahead.
I am hopeful that we will cement the foundations for a strong, sustainable, and lasting return to development that is improving health and living standards.