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FEATURE STORY October 30, 2020

World Bank and IMF leadership emphasize Parliamentarians as valuable partners in defining development priorities

World Bank and IMF leadership emphasize Parliamentarians as valuable partners in defining development priorities

“These are important discussions we as parliamentarians will steward over the next year. Zeroing in on the purpose of finance is a good place to start in order to make ethical, green and inclusive investment decisions.” Liam Byrne MP, UK and Chair of the Parliamentary Network

October 12-15, 2020 – The World Bank Group organized its first virtual Global Parliamentary Forum themed “Achieving a green and inclusive recovery post COVID-19” from October 12-15, 2020 on the occasion of the Annual Meetings of the World Bank and IMF. The four-day event connected more than 200 parliamentarians from 82 countries and the European Parliament, representing all regions of the world to exchange and learn about actions they could take in their parliaments to pave the way for a resilient and inclusive recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Poverty and inequality are rising rapidly, with the first increase in poverty in over 20 years threatening to push more than 100 million people into extreme poverty by the end of this year. During the flagship leadership townhall with World Bank President David Malpass and IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva, both leaders underscored engaging with legislators as key to achieving meaningful development results. Mr. Malpass emphasized the importance of parliamentarians in helping the World Bank define its development priorities, implement evidence-based policies, and translate its global mandate to country outcomes. Parliamentarians speak for the people, Ms. Georgieva noted, which is precisely what makes their voices so powerful.

As Members of Parliament, we know first-hand what is happening on the ground. We see the people whom we are elected to represent, how their lives are impacted, and what has been unleashed upon them in the wake of COVID-19.Marlene Mahaloo Forte MP and General Attorney, Jamaica

Parliamentarians are key actors in shaping the success of development efforts through policies, reforms, oversight, and a direct link to citizens. Their role has grown ever more important in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic as they pass emergency legislation and stimulus packages, perform crucial checks and balances to oversee their governments’ handling of the crisis, and implement reforms for a better, greener, and more inclusive future. The Global Parliamentary Forum was timely in connecting them with development experts and leadership from the World Bank Group and IMF as well as their global peers to share effective policies and practices for improved outcomes at the country level. The main challenges discussed throughout the forum included debt transparency, jobs creation, empowering women and girls, transitioning towards a green economy, and partnering with the private sector.

Mr. Malpass presented the World Bank’s broad and fast response with the $160 billion in commitments available through June 2021 and support being delivered in 111 countries for emergency health response, as well as IFC’s $4 billion platform for the development of vaccines for developing countries. Ms. Georgieva also added that the IMF has provided $100 billion support for 81 countries and debt relief to the 29 poorest members. Both leaders stressed the need for debt reduction and transparency to redirect funds toward vital investments in human capital, jobs, and climate.


Women Leading Politics and Development

Women Leading Politics and Development

“The one thing that the pandemic has taught us and brought us together on is, in terms of women’s issues, there’s no better time than now to stop calling them ‘women’s issues’ and to start calling them ‘national issues.’” Shandana Gulzar Khan MP, Pakistan; Chairperson, Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians

The momentum of the forum continued with a special session co-hosted by Women Political Leaders in honor of Beijing +25 entitled Women Leading Politics and Development. The meeting gathered inspiring female leaders, including Mari Pangestu, Managing Director of Development Policy and Partnerships, World Bank Group; Antoinette Sayeh, Deputy Managing Director, IMF; and a high-level panel of female parliamentary leaders to discuss how women’s increased political participation can lead to a more inclusive and resilient COVID-19 recovery and foster sustainable growth for flourishing societies.

Ms. Pangestu likened the collective effort towards gender parity to a marathon rather than a sprint – a marathon that is getting much harder with the converging crises of COVID-19, climate change, and conflict that threaten a wide-ranging reversal of progress. The panel demonstrated that female participation in politics will help reach the finish line as female parliamentarians bring more inclusive policymaking and leadership styles to the table. They tend to pass laws to improve gender and human capital outcomes, and their inclination for collaboration, empathy, compassion, and building unity across party lines have shown to be particularly impactful in the face of COVID-19.

 

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Achieving a Green and Inclusive Recovery and Growth Together

“Let’s help build the political will that we need to make hard choices, to gather a better future. This is the critical decade now to keep emissions down and have inclusive growth.” The Hon. Kandeh Yumkella, Chair of the Economic Planning & Development Committee, Sierra Leone


As parliamentarians explored how to achieve a green and inclusive recovery and growth throughout the Global Parliamentary Forum, a recurring issue was the balancing act with which they are faced when adding increasing costs incurred by the health emergency and stimulus measures to existing expenditures, and addressing these needs with decreased revenues when public financing was already scant. In Jamaica, for example, spending on the pandemic amounted to the entire 2020-2021 budget for five key ministries.

Two necessities in particular were emphasized during the latter two sessions of the event – global cooperation to overcome cross-border problems and private sector investment to complement limited public resources. As Carmen Reinhart, Vice President and Chief Economist, World Bank Group stated, it is essential to build back better and greener, but there are a lot of headwinds that will require global cooperation to address. And parliamentarians play a part in that cooperation. Stephanie von Friedeburg, Interim Managing Director and Executive Vice President, and COO, IFC called on legislators to ensure that all the development finance institutions play collaboratively and collectively together as well as to shape the right policies and regulations to attract the private sector.

Parliamentarians hold the key to policies and reforms that encourage sustainable, equitable growth and improve the business environment in an ethical and environmentally responsible manner. By working together with institutions like the World Bank and their global peers to share knowledge and experience, they can unlock the door to the innovation and change necessary to achieve a resilient and inclusive recovery.

This kind of meeting is important to understand political as well as private sector solutions, and the role of parliament to promote policies to better develop a green and inclusive economy.” Esther del Brio, Senator, Spain

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Key Takeaways:

1.       Achieving a resilient recovery from the COVID-19 crisis will be a long process that will require the help of the private sector to support scarce public resources; however, countries have a unique chance to innovate, repurpose skills, promote gender equality, and re-channel resources toward a greener, more inclusive and more transparent future.

2.       The World Bank Group is committed to deploying resources and expertise targeted to countries’ needs, including boosting private sector investments, to help nations ease debt, tackle the COVID-19 crisis, and pave the way to a robust and sustainable recovery.

3.       Parliamentarians are important partners to the World Bank Group in targeting funding and tailoring programs to the most vulnerable citizens’ needs; overseeing governments, especially in support of debt transparency; and implementing reforms for a green recovery that is more conducive to private sector investments, but also ethical and equitable.

4.       Female parliamentarians in particular have a tendency toward inclusive policymaking, collaboration, empathy, and compassion, making more women in parliament and political leadership key not only to democracy, but a successful COVID-19 recovery and flourishing societies.

International collaboration will be paramount to overcoming a cross-border crisis. Countries must work together with one another as well as multilateral organizations like the World Bank to share knowledge, ensure access to vital supplies and vaccines, and to support one another through to a resilient recovery.

For more details on the Global Parliamentary Forum, including video recordings, visit the 360 Virtual Reality Atrium.


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