Sydney, January 14, 2013 — The new World Bank Country Director for the Pacific Islands, Papua New Guinea and Timor-Leste, Franz Drees-Gross, says the organization will focus on effectively delivering a growing number of projects in the region, to help governments find solutions to common challenges like disaster preparedness and response, connectivity and poverty reduction.
Mr Drees-Gross will lead the management of the World Bank’s growing portfolio of over 30 projects across Timor-Leste and the Pacific region, helping governments meet their priorities on issues like climate change adaptation, disaster risk management, health, education, governance and infrastructure.
“The World Bank’s strength is delivering solutions that help governments address difficult development challenges,” Mr Drees-Gross said. “Pacific island countries are some of the most vulnerable in the world to climate change and natural disasters. These are a common challenge but we must also look to build on growing opportunities, from expanded telecoms and airports, to better managed fisheries.”
He said the launch of the Tonga broadband cable later this year will be a vital step to connecting people in the Pacific, across islands and countries, and to the world.
Mr Drees-Gross is a German and United States national with more than 15 years’ experience at the World Bank, including operational experience in Asia, South America and Africa.
Most recently he was the Sustainable Development Manager for Indonesia, based in Jakarta, from where he oversaw an annual lending program of about $1.5 billion. This included a large rural and urban, community-driven development program, infrastructure investments in power, drainage and roads, the final stages of the reconstruction effort after the 2004 Aceh Tsunami and a program to protect Indonesia’s coral reefs.
He holds Masters degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Management from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Mr Drees-Gross will reside in Sydney with his wife and two daughters.