Financing the End of Poverty

July 10, 2015


  • Global leaders are poised to adopt a set of targets tackling the world’s biggest challenges.
  • These targets include the ambitious goal of ending extreme poverty in a generation.
  • Leaders meeting in Addis Ababa July 13-16 discussed how to ensure the goals are adequately financed.

The Millennium Development Goals—a set of eight international targets—were established in 2000 at the UN Millennium Summit. It took another two years for there to be a conference on how to actually finance them.  Now, with the MDGs coming to a close this year, the international community is poised to plot a different course.

Global leaders are meeting July 13-16 at the 3rd International Financing for Development Conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to develop a financing plan for a new set of priorities—the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)—prior to a September meeting to agree upon those proposed targets.

Will we see this (arguably more sensible) approach exceed what was achieved in Monterrey in 2002? At stake is nothing less than financing an end extreme poverty in our generation.

“The decisions taken in Addis next week—and in New York in September—have the potential to benefit billions of people for generations to come,” said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim.

“But it’s going to take more than business as usual.  We need far greater collaboration among governments, the private sector, civil society and multilateral development institutions, including new partners like the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the New Development Bank.”

The global development landscape has changed since the MDGs were adopted in 2000. Middle-income countries now account for a much larger share of global GDP. At the same time, inequality within many countries is on the rise and the gap between the rich and the poor is growing. Moreover, the private sector is playing an increasingly important role in financing goods, service and infrastructure in emerging economies—accounting for $778 billion in foreign direct investment in 2013.

" The decisions taken in Addis—and in New York in September—have the potential to benefit generations to come. "

Jim Yong Kim

World Bank Group President

The conference is the capstone to a year of collaboration between the World Bank Group, regional multilateral development banks (MDBs) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to identify areas where they can work together or develop new initiatives that will help finance the post-2015 development agenda.

“The world needs an ambitious plan for financing,” says Bertrand Badré, managing director and World Bank Group chief financial officer.

“We need to radically rethink how we unlock resources and connect the billions of dollars in official development assistance (ODA) to trillions in investment of all kinds, public and private, national and global.”

The global community provides roughly $135 billion a year in official development assistance, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). But the SDGs are ambitious, and the cost of achieving them will far exceed current development funding. The price tag for even the most basic of needs—such as clean water—is far beyond the reach of existing public resources.

“The billions in ODA—a small but critical part of overall development flows—must be used more strategically to catalyze and channel additional development resources,” says Mahmoud Mohieldin, corporate secretary and the World Bank Group president’s special envoy to the UN.

“Channeling additional flows to support the SDGs will be a challenge,” he adds. “We can’t expect private and public resources to automatically join forces to support the SDGs.”

The largest potential sources of finance for development come from countries themselves and private investors. International financial institutions such as the World Bank Group can help countries get the money they need for development through better tax policies, more efficient public spending, and private investment.

“Historically, we’ve done a good job of having public capital finance public projects and private capital invest in private companies. What we need to do now is blend public and private together,” said Gavin Wilson, Chief Executive Officer of IFC Asset Management Company, which mobilizes institutional investor capital to invest in IFC projects. As of June 30, 2015, AMC raised $8.5 billion in assets under management across nine funds.

The World Bank Group is exploring ways to use its own platforms to generate greater flows, provide policy and technical guidance, promote private investment, support international action on regional and global development issues, coordinate more closely than ever with existing partners and explore ways to bring on board new partners.

The development banks and the Bank Group will issue information notes that outline areas of greater cooperation, initiatives that should be expanded, and new platforms for disseminating knowledge and providing technical assistance.

"If we seize this moment, we can accomplish the greatest achievement in human history— to end extreme poverty in a generation," says Kim.