The global economy is experiencing an uneven recovery, with the risk that it will worsen inequality and leave low- and middle-income countries behind. The path of the COVID-19 pandemic remains uncertain, with obstacles to vaccination in many countries. Developing economies face challenges that could slow their recovery for years to come. To help, the World Bank Group has mounted the largest crisis response in its history, and it is uniquely positioned to help ensure that all countries can participate in a green, resilient, and inclusive return to stability and growth.
These were key messages from the Development Committee, a ministerial-level forum that represents 189 member countries of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund, in a communiqué issued at the institutions’ Annual Meetings. The committee noted that the pandemic has compounded long-standing development challenges; low- and middle-income countries face acute vulnerabilities and need stronger policies, institutions, and resources to bolster resilience.
In a speech delivered in Khartoum, Sudan, before the meetings, World Bank Group President David Malpass shared in these concerns. With reversals in development threatening people’s lives, livelihoods, and long-term prospects, he stated that “This drastic narrowing of economic and social progress is creating a time of upheaval in economics, politics, and geopolitical relationships.” He called for new approaches and urged that the development community “focus our efforts more, set clear priorities by measuring what works and what doesn’t, and rapidly scale up successes.”
The committee and Malpass underscored the urgency of expanding access to COVID-19 vaccines, both to save lives and to help restart economies. The Bank Group is partnering with COVAX, the African Union, and UNICEF to help countries purchase and deploy vaccines, with IFC helping finance manufacturers of vaccines and related supplies, particularly in Africa. In addition, the Multilateral Leaders Task Force has brought together the Bank Group, IMF, WHO, and WTO to help speed the delivery of vaccines and finance testing, diagnostics, and treatment.