As the 2015 deadline for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) draws nearer, the debate within the international community is gaining momentum on two fronts: advancing the unfinished agenda of the current MDGs while developing successor goals. The World Bank Brussels Office made a major contribution to raising the public profile of this debate with the presentation of the Global Monitoring Report (GMR) 2014/15 to a multi-stakeholder audience on October 15 2014.
Released on an annual basis since 2004 by the World Bank Group, in collaboration with the International Monetary Fund, the GMR monitors the world’s progress in achieving the MDGs and related development outcomes. For the first time the 2014/15 edition reported also on the implementation of the World Bank Group’s own twin goals of ending poverty and boosting shared prosperity.
In the presentation, World Bank Group lead author Jos Verbeek outlined the three areas the report deemed necessary to make growth inclusive and sustainable: a) investment in human capital; b) better use of safety nets, and c) environmental sustainability of development. On human capital, Verbeek pointed out that providing good jobs has been one of the most important factors in in lifting people out of poverty. As regards social safety nets, he argued that cash transfers, even when unconditional, have been critical in helping the poor and protecting the vulnerable, particularly in times of crisis. Concerning environmental sustainability, reform of fuel and other energy source subsidies could curb waste in many poor countries and potentially benefit the poor in a direct manner. IMF co-author Lynge Nielsen pointed out that the global economy has largely been conducive to growth in developing countries over the last seven years. However, as the report concludes, while economic growth in those regions where 95 % of the poor live is encouraging, risks are emerging with possible further recessions in rich countries. Still the World Bank Group’s interim target of reducing extreme poverty to single digit by 2020 seems achievable. Gaps in income levels of the bottom 40% have been closing, even if other aspects of their living standards remain much lower than the top 60%.