SYDNEY, August 10, 2011 --- World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick will begin an official visit to Australia tomorrow aimed at strengthening international cooperation with the country, an important shareholder and partner of the World Bank Group.
Zoellick’s visit to Australia comes almost a month after the release of the Australian aid review – the first review of the country’s aid in 15 years – which lays out a roadmap for Australia’s aid for the future.
“The World Bank shares Australia’s view that the fundamental objective of development assistance is to help people overcome poverty,” Zoellick said. “Support to these countries is not charity -- it is self interest. Australia’s future, from exports to investments, is closely linked with growth in developing countries.”
“Australia has taken advantage of its good fortune to become an important and growing voice on the global stage. We see it in the G-20 where Australia plays a principal role. We see it in Australia's leadership in boosting development assistance and improving aid effectiveness,” Zoellick added.
The World Bank President welcomed Australia’s bipartisan commitment to increase aid to 0.5 percent of gross national income by 2015-16.
“The World Bank Group is committed to exploring how to best leverage our financial and knowledge resources with Australia to help share Australia’s experience globally” Zoellick said. “The World Bank Group stands ready to support Australia as it expands its aid program, both in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.”
While in Australia, Zoellick will meet Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Treasurer Wayne Swan, senior Coalition figures and other Federal Parliamentarians about changes within the Bank Group to adapt to the changing global environment. He will also meet Tongan Prime Minister Lord Tu’ivakano.
Aside from outlining the Bank’s modernization agenda, with reforms in openness and transparency, lending and investments, and giving greater voice to developing countries, Zoellick will also outline the Bank’s push to focus on results. Since 2000, the Bank’s work has, for example, helped immunize 310 million children in poor countries – equivalent to over sixty times the number of children in Australia – and helped provide 47 million people (more than twice the population of Australia) with access to basic health, nutrition or family planning services.
The World Bank President begins his visit in Perth where he will attend the Australian American Leadership Dialogue – a high level private initiative that brings together Australian and American leaders to define and debate the relationship between the two countries. The Australian delegates will be led by the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard and the Federal Opposition leader, Tony Abbott.
Mr. Zoellick has been chosen by the AALD to receive their recently instituted annual award, the 2011 Leadership Dialogue Honor. Last year’s recipient of the AALD award was Richard Woolcott, former secretary of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Prior to joining the World Bank, as the United States Trade Representative, Zoellick negotiated the Free Trade Agreement between the United States and Australia, signed in 2004.