"It is the vision of the World Bank Group to contribute to an inclusive and sustainable globalization – to overcome poverty, enhance growth with care for the environment, and create individual opportunity and hope," said World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick on Thursday.
Speaking at the National Press Club in Washington, marking his first 100 days as President of the World Bank Group, Zoellick explained that, "Globalization offers incredible opportunities. Yet exclusion, grinding poverty, and environmental damage create dangers. The ones that suffer most are those who have the least to start with – indigenous peoples, women in developing countries, the rural poor, Africans, and their children."
In discussing how the World Bank Group can support developing countries, Zoellick pointed out: "It is the purpose of the World Bank Group to assist countries to help themselves by catalyzing the capital and policies through a mix of ideas and experience, development of private market opportunities, and support for good governance and anti-corruption -- spurred by our financial resources."
"It is the purpose of the Bank Group to advance ideas about international projects and agreements on trade, finance, health, poverty, education, and climate change so that they can benefit all, especially the poor seeking new opportunities."
"Inclusive globalization is also a matter of self-interest. Poverty breeds instability, disease and devastation of common resources and the environment," he said.
Zoellick said the Bank Group should be expanding the frontiers of thinking about policy and markets and pioneering new possibilities.
In laying out his vision for the World Bank Group, Mr. Zoellick suggested six strategic themes:
- Helping to overcome poverty and spur sustainable growth in the poorest countries, especially in Africa.
- Addressing the special challenges of states coming out of conflict.
- Developing a competitive menu of "development solutions" for middle income countries, involving customized services as well as finance.
- Playing a more active role with regional and global "public goods" on issues crossing national borders, including climate change, HIV/Aids, malaria, and aid for trade.
- Supporting those advancing development and opportunity in the Arab world.
- Fostering a "knowledge and learning" agenda across the World Bank Group to support its role as a “brain trust” of applied experience.
Zoellick said the Bank was also strengthening its work with countries on good governance and anticorruption, the foundation to improving development.
To help the poorest countries, Zoellick announced the World Bank Group was leading the way by pledging US$3.5 billion of its own resources to the International Development Association (IDA), which provides grants and interest free loans for the 81 poorest countries. This is more than double the US$1.5 billion the Bank Group pledged to the prior IDA replenishment in 2005.
Zoellick challenged the world's developed countries to follow the Bank's lead and increase their support for the world's poorest people, especially in Africa and South and East Asia.
"I wanted all donors to know—in concrete terms—that the World Bank Group will 'put its money where its mouth is' when it comes time to boosting IDA," he says. "Now we need the G-8 and other developed countries to translate their words from Summit declarations into serious numbers, too."
As an integral player in the multilateral economic system, the Bank Group had an important role to play in advancing an inclusive and sustainable globalization, according to Zoellick.
"Together, we must show that multilateralism can work much more effectively—not just in conference halls and communiqués—but in villages and teeming cities, for those most in need."
(China Development Gateway October 12, 2007)