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Support for Accelerating Poverty Fight Tops Agenda at 2012 Annual Meetings
Source: web.worldbank.org
Source Date: Saturday, October 13, 2012
Focus: Institution and HR Management
Created: Oct 16, 2012

October 13, 2012—World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim’s call to redouble efforts to end absolute poverty won broad backing from the institution’s member countries as Annual Meetings wrapped up in Tokyo October 13.

The 188-member Development Committee supported Dr. Kim’s vision of a World Bank Group that “focuses on impact, provides evidence-based assistance … and promotes global public goods,” said the committee’s communique at the close of the meetings.

"We still live in a world that has more than one billion people living in absolute poverty," Dr. Kim said at the closing press conference. "We must all work to make sure that the impressive gains in Latin America, Africa, and Asia over the past generation are not lost now. In just the last few years, growth from developing countries accounted for more than half of global growth."

A day earlier, Dr. Kim outlined his plan to transform the Bank into a “solutions bank” that will use evidence and experience to tackle development problems and also establish ambitious targets for eradicating poverty and boosting shared prosperity, among other measures to modernize the institution.

Dr. Kim acknowledged as the Meetings opened that “we are in challenging times,” marked by high and volatile food prices, weak growth in high income countries, and slowing growth in developing countries, which had been the engine of growth in the world economy.

In its communique, the committee called on the Bank to work with other organizations to accelerate efforts to help the African Sahel, where “hunger threatens the lives of 19 million people and the stability of the region.” The response should bring solutions that enable the region to “permanently escape the cycle of emergency aid, and reach a more resilient and sustainable future in the medium term.”

Food security and food price volatility remain persistent threats to development in general and need more attention, the committee added.

Donors meeting on the sidelines of the Annual Meetings made pledges to the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program, launched by the World Bank in 2008 at the request of the G20. The United States pledged to contribute an additional $1 to the fund for every $2 contributed by other donors (up to a total US contribution of $475 million), attracting $30 million contributions each from Japan and the Republic of Korea, with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation also indicating it would double its commitment.

“These new commitments are critical to our efforts to end hunger,” said Dr. Kim.

The World Bank Group must also continue to help countries strengthen conditions for job growth. “Recent financial crises mean fewer jobs where millions are needed,” said the committee. The Bank’s private sector arm IFC and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency will be “especially crucial in supporting the private sector,” it said, and encouraged the Bank Group to build on the work of the 2013 World Development Report on Jobs, released October 1.

The Development Committee asked the World Bank to “contribute actively” to the process of setting global development targets that would take effect after the Millennium Development Goals sunset in 2015. It said the Bank should step up its work in fragile states, and acknowledged the Bank’s progress on gender equality – all country strategies discussed in the past year are gender-informed—though much remains to be done.

The Bank should also provide support to countries that want to use natural capital accounting – a method of valuing natural resources and phenomena often left out of national budgets. In addition, “We are encouraged that the WBG-supported Global Partnership for Oceans has attracted new members and created a sense of urgency about the need for action to restore oceans to productive health and for sustainable aquaculture.”

The Bank’s shareholders thanked the Government of Japan for hosting the Meetings as well as the Sendai Dialogue, a two-day forum where Japan shared lessons from its March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami, and where leaders, disaster and development experts debated how to help vulnerable countries manage disaster risks. The committee called on the Bank to integrate disaster risk management and adaptation to climate change in its work with countries, while continuing to “play a major role in supporting effective responses and reconstruction operations, when disasters do occur.
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