Welcome to the 2016 World Bank/IMF Annual Meetings.
I first want to say a few words about Haiti, which was devastated by Hurricane Matthew. Our thoughts are with the people of Haiti, many of whom are still recovering from the earthquake of 2010.
We have reached out to the Government and offered immediate support to respond to this disaster. Our staff on the ground are already working with the Ministry of Public Works to begin restoring access to the hardest hit areas in the south of the country, including a key bridge that was washed away. It is too early to know the full impact of the storm, as some of the most vulnerable communities live along the coast and cannot yet be reached.
Initial indications show that the Haitian Government took early action, warning people and opening 1,300 shelters. The Civil Protection Municipal Committees, supported by our ongoing IDA program, went house-to-house in communities to encourage them to leave high-risk areas.
We are sending a rapid assessment team to coordinate with Haiti’s partners in establishing the extent of the damage, and we will be using funds from existing operations to help clear debris, repair bridges and roads, help kids return to school, and clean up mudslides, which require heavy and expensive equipment.
Haiti has also requested a payout from the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility, which was developed with assistance from the World Bank to provide insurance against natural disasters.
Our sympathy and solidarity go to the people of Haiti and to all those affected in the Caribbean by Hurricane Matthew.
Disasters like this remind us of the need to help countries build greater resilience against ever-more frequent shocks.
Extreme weather also underscores the urgency for global action against climate change.
That’s why the remarkable pace at which nations of the world have ratified the Paris Agreement gives us hope. With the EU’s ratification this week, added to that of many other countries, the Agreement will enter into force in less than a month from now. This is multilateralism at its best.
I’d now like to turn to what I will be discussing with our shareholders this week, and then we’ll take your questions.
Developing countries continue to struggle amidst a sluggish global economy. Many countries have been hit by falling commodity prices and stagnating global trade.
We now have the highest number of developing countries in recession since 2009, and we’ve been working to meet rising demands for assistance to help countries manage global challenges.
Once again, the Bank is playing a strong counter-cyclical role in the global economy.
But multiple risks threaten hard-fought gains in many countries and can hamper progress on our goals of ending extreme poverty by 2030 and boosting shared prosperity.
We released a report on these goals earlier this week. Our research shows that inequality is still far too high, both globally and within countries, constraining growth and breeding instability.
We need to focus on growth and continue to reduce inequality – and we have to make growth more equitable, and more sustainable.
Because of the multiple, overlapping global shocks – including climate change, forced displacement, and pandemics – we have to scale up our efforts dramatically.
If we are going to end extreme poverty by 2030, we have got to continue to focus our efforts, and we have to face each global challenge with an urgency and scale commensurate to the problem.
My message for shareholders this week is that three steps are required to meet our goals:
First, we have to accelerate inclusive and sustainable economic growth. Inequality is still too high, and the kind of growth we need must be shared far more broadly.
Second, a key ingredient for building more inclusive growth is investing in human capital, so countries can compete in the global economy of the future. The return on investment in people is virtually impossible to overstate.
Third, as we have discussed, we must help foster greater resilience to global shocks and threats that can set back our progress.
Two goals, three ways to get there.
I’m happy to take your questions.