Six months ago, the World Bank Group’s member countries endorsed a bold plan to end extreme poverty by 2030 and promote shared prosperity. Today, they gave the Bank Group the green light to reposition itself to better tackle these goals.
“I am very grateful for the support of the governors in unanimously endorsing our World Bank Group Strategy,” said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim. “For the first time in the history of our organization, we have a strategy that leverages the strengths of our entire organization – the Bank, the IFC, our private sector arm, and MIGA, which provides risk guarantees – and aligns all our work for a common purpose.”
The Development Committee — a joint World Bank-IMF forum that advises the two institutions — approved a new World Bank Group Strategy calling for greater efficiency in operations; more investment in knowledge, technical skills, and information technology; and the breaking down of silos within the institution that currently inhibit collaboration and knowledge-sharing.
“We strongly endorse the WBG Strategy,” the Committee said in a communiqué released at the World Bank-IMF 2013 Annual Meetings on Oct. 12.“We welcome the repositioning of the institution as ‘One World Bank Group’ that works with the public and private sectors in partnership, contributes to the global development agenda through dialogue and action, supports clients in delivering customized development solutions, and helps advance knowledge about what works in development.”
The Committee urged special attention to countries and regions with the highest rates of poverty, fragile and conflict-affected situations, and unique challenges facing small states.
It noted that while the global poverty rate has been cut in half since 1991, not all developing countries have seen equal progress. About half of low-income countries are classified as fragile and conflict-affected, and they are home to a growing share of the world’s poor. Economic growth has been accompanied by rising inequality in many developing countries, with the majority of the poor now living in middle-income countries.
A report released Thursday revealed that 400 million — one in three — of the world’s extreme poor are children. The State of the World’s Poor also found that in 35 low-income countries, 100 million more people are living in extreme poverty — defined as less than $1.25 a day — than 30 years ago.
“How can we in good conscience not do all we can to lift these children and their families out of extreme poverty?” Kim asked. “They can’t wait for progress to emerge slowly. They need our help today.”
The two goals set by the Bank Group are reducing extreme poverty globally to 3% by 2030, and boosting incomes for the bottom 40% of the population in developing countries.
On Wednesday, in a webcast interview with CNN’s Richard Quest, Kim said countries will have to perform at their very best level of the last 20 years to reach the poverty goal, which would not be realistic unless countries can reduce extreme poverty to single digits in the next seven years. Kim announced a new interim target – lowering poverty from 18% in 2010 to 9% by 2020.