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What Will It Take to End Poverty in a Generation? A Global Audience Dialogues with Jim Yong Kim and Ban Ki-moon

April 19, 2013


World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim joined UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for Global Voices on Poverty, an event featuring world leaders, opinion makers, and a global online audience discussing what it takes to end poverty.

Ryan Rayburn/World Bank

End poverty in a generation? People from more than 80 countries weighed in on that difficult goal in a special event, Global Voices on Poverty, with World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim and United Nations Secretary Ban Ki-moon on the eve of the World Bank-IMF Spring Meetings.

“We think that people living under $1.25 a day is frankly a stain on our conscience and we’re going to do everything we can to get that number down to 3%,” said Dr. Kim.

Added Ki-moon: “Almost 1 billion people go to bed hungry every night. This is an unacceptable situation. That is why MDG [Millennium Development Goal] number one is to eradicate poverty and hunger and it is at the heart of our efforts to build the future we want.”

Sitting side-by-side under a banner displaying “#ittakes” and “end poverty,” the two leaders told a live audience in Washington and around the world via webcast that they will work closely to reduce the number of people living on $1.25 day to 3% or less of the global population – a plan that will be taken up by the Bank’s Board of Governors this weekend.

The event, and the closer collaboration of the Bank and UN, caps Dr. Kim’s months-long drive to ask people all over the world what it will take to end poverty, while developing a strategy to do it.

“Having goals changes the way you do work,” said Dr. Kim. “We're actually changing what we’re doing by saying we’re not going to measure poverty every three years with two-year-old data, we’re going to measure it every year. We’re going to have that data to present every year.”

Besides poverty, the conversation covered empowerment of the poor, women’s financial inclusion, ending hunger and promoting food security, peace in fragile and conflict-affected areas, and sustainable development and other issues raised in questions and comments from the global audience and from moderator Tumi Makgabo, known for her award-winning work on CNN’s Inside Africa. Questions were submitted in Arabic, English, French and Spanish through World Bank Live, Facebook and Twitter with #ittakes.

The conversation also drew on the wisdom of four special guests in the Washington audience: Gunilla Carlsson, Sweden’s Minister of International Development, Uganda Minister of Finance Maria Kiwanuka, Trevor Manuel, South Africa Minister in the Presidency in charge of the National Planning Commission, and Nobel Laureate and Grameen Bank founder Muhammad Yunus.

Many comments reflected concerns dominating social media conversations, such as poverty, girls’ education, shared prosperity, and, in Arabic, justice.

People asked why poverty is still prevalent, where can we start to end it, what should be done about corruption, and what more needs to be done to reach global goals beyond ending poverty, and, from Ghana, How can we ensure the involvement of the poor themselves in ending poverty?

“We talk of leaders and governments, but not of active citizens, and that is the essential ingredient that nobody focuses on sufficiently,” said Manuel. “Because effective government has to be an outcome not just of free and fair elections, but of a different kind of participation. We must rehabilitate the word empowerment.”