Speeches & Transcripts

Pamela Cox's Remarks at the Montreal Ministerial Conference on Haiti

January 25, 2010

World Bank Regional Vice President Pamela Cox Ministerial Conference on Haiti Montreal, Canada

As Prepared for Delivery

Let me start by saying that the World Bank and its staff are in deep sorrow in the face of the tragedy suffered by Haiti, and have great admiration for the courage the Haitian people have shown after such unspeakable hardship.

I am convinced that the people of Haiti can rebuild and continue on the promising trajectory that was emerging in the months before the earthquake.

In order to help them achieve this we need to focus on assessing immediate needs and mobilize resources and broad participation, but we also need the speed and efficiency that are required from the international community.

In keeping with international protocols, the World Bank, the United Nations and the Inter American Development Bank are together providing core support to the government of Haiti in conducting a Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA), including physical damages, economic losses and human recovery needs. The PDNA mission, which is scheduled for February, will get on the ground quickly because we understand the urgency of this. We welcome the participation of Haiti’s bilateral partners in the PDNA.

The World Bank has pledged additional resources for Haiti’s reconstruction to the tune of US $100 million in emergency grant money from the International Development Association (IDA) and trust funds.

We are also redirecting resources from our existing projects –15 in total- worth over US$200 million in commitments to achieve the following: (i) respond to immediate needs such as education and community driven projects for school feeding, and support to populations at the community level; (ii) rebuild critical physical and financial infrastructure including bridges, roads, electricity, and key government buildings, and (iii) provide short term budget support.

Additionally, the International Finance Corporation, the World Bank private sector investment arm, has more than US$71 million available for private sector projects.

However, individually, we can achieve little.

To address Haiti’s challenges we must work within a coherent framework with exemplary coordination and dedication.

On January 13, we proposed the creation of a Multi Donor Haiti Reconstruction Fund to which all partners, public or private, could contribute under the leadership of the government of Haiti, while channeling resources effectively to a large range of actors on the ground.

Our objective is to have in place a mechanism that maximizes synergies and that is effective and efficient, with a partnership in planning and efficient channeling of funds.

We have learned three key lessons from our extensive experience in disaster recovery, which includes eight natural disaster recovery efforts in the last 12 years and many more in situations of fragility:

- Haiti, its government and its people must remain at the center of any initiative or funding mechanism, and partner interventions must be aligned with Haitian-set priorities. Our partnership with the government of Haiti must remain strong, even after camera crews have gone.

- Strong government leadership must be paired with empowerment of people and communities, who are part of the solution. Victims can become development workers, aid recipients can turn into community facilitators, and displaced people can rebuild their own future.

- Broad participation must go hand in hand with strong, disciplined coordination. Haiti needs the talents, resources and energy of all: bilaterals, multilaterals, NGOs, and the private sector, among others.

To be effective, they must not waste the scarce resources of the government of Haiti and of local institutions.

Initiatives and programs must be coordinated ruthlessly to eliminate duplications, maximize synergies, and fill critical gaps. We have been discussing with United Nations and the Inter American Development Bank how to coordinate, including procedures, reporting, transparency results and implementation.

Together, under the leadership of the government of Haiti, we hope to build an effective partnership to support recovery and reconstruction.

We look forward to further collaboration with all for the benefit of Haiti.