WASHINGTON, October 10, 2014—In the wake of a “late, inadequate and slow” global response to the Ebola outbreak, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim today called for the creation of a new pandemic emergency facility that would rapidly respond to future outbreaks by delivering money to countries in crisis.
Speaking before the Annual Meetings plenary, a meeting of the governors of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group, Kim said he would like to develop the proposals for a financial instrument with the United Nations, the IMF and regional development banks.
He said even as the focus should now be intensely on doing everything possible to stop Ebola, planning must also begin for the next pandemic, which “could spread much more quickly, kill even more people and potentially devastate the global economy”.
“The world has an IMF to coordinate and work with central banks and ministries to respond to financial crises,” he said. “When it comes to health emergencies, however, our institutional toolbox is empty: There’s no such center of knowledge and skill for response and coordination."
He said the Bank Group’s financial teams have proposed several solutions, including the pandemic emergency facility. “The device would pre-package a response, establishing contingent funding agreements with donors and receipt mechanisms for possible recipients. So when a global health emergency is declared, financial support would be readily available and flow quickly to support an immediate response"
Kim said the Bank’s work on Ebola, including in the innovative use of crisis funding to disburse $105 million over nine days in emergency funding, had been informed by its focus over the past two years on climate change.
He told delegates the World Bank Group was fully engaged in fighting the global threats posed by both Ebola and climate change. He said the actions exemplify that the Bank Group wants to become, defining that as “an indispensable partner for both low and middle income countries in their efforts to solve their most difficult challenges.”
He warned time was running out to find solutions to both the threats posed by climate change and Ebola.
“Also, until very recently, the plans to fight them were either non-existent or inadequate. And, inaction is literally killing people – one because of the rapid spread of a deadly virus, the other from the poisoning of the atmosphere and the oceans. And finally, perhaps most critically from our point of view, resolving these problems is essential to development, whether from the perspective of human suffering, economic growth, or public health. “
He said Bank Group staff from the climate group, plus experts working on urban issues and with the private sector, would meet later today with government officials and corporate CEOs to decide how to turn pledges by governments, companies and investors to put a price on carbon into action.
In his speech, Kim also cited the Bank Group’s work in creating the Global Infrastructure Facility, a global platform to bring together institutional investors, development banks, and public officials to tackle the infrastructure deficit now faced by the developing world, an estimated US$1 trillion to $1.5 trillion.
Kim praised the work of staff across the institution saying in infrastructure, Ebola and climate change, teams had worked collaboratively and displayed an inspiring commitment to innovation.
“Their efforts displayed creativity, knowledge, skill, intensity, passion and selflessness. Their sharing of ideas and best practices is precisely the culture we wanted the reorganization to create,” he said.
“We must maintain this commitment because increasing global fragility and volatility will challenge us more and more every day. In our march to end extreme poverty – conflict, typhoons, floods, droughts, financial shocks and epidemics may, at times, slow us. But they will not stop us. The Bank will be aggressive and creative and apply large-scale solutions to help states manage, prepare for, recover from and conquer these risks, so they can grow and flourish. “