Speeches & Transcripts

Joint Press Conference with Swedish Finance Minister Anders Borg, Development Minister Gunilla Carlsson and World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim

December 11, 2012

Swedish Finance Minister Anders Borg, Development Minister Gunilla Carlsson and World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim Joint Press Conference Stockholm, Sweden


DR. KIM:  Thank you very much. It's a great honor and privilege for me to be here and especially an honor to stand between Minister Borg and Minister Carlsson.

The first thing I want to say is thank you to the people of Sweden. The Swedish people have been so extraordinarily generous for such a long time and to see yesterday the celebration of science at the Nobel Prize ceremony was especially heartwarming, and I was also very encouraged to hear the Nobel Citation being read in Swedish, and it was if the entire country was celebrating the importance of science for the world.

The most important thing about the Swedish contribution is that they have been very generous, but also they have insisted that we marry a moral vision of what is the nature of our responsibility to each other as human beings, with the scientific evidence base, and nothing could be more powerful than bringing together moral vision with practical [steps], and this is what we're trying to do.

As you all know, Minister Borg is one of the most respected finance ministers in the world, but when we sit down to talk, I have to review all of my previous World Bank studies, because he knows them so well. He knows them well because he really cares. He cares on a very practical level about economic growth in developing countries because, as we know, the economic growth in the developing countries is--economic growth in developing countries is what really held up global growth over the last five years.

But moreover, I can tell that he has a deep passion for providing the kind of basic services that people need to be the participants in the economy of the future who know that that's what we want.

Minister Carlsson has been an absolute thought leader in the world of development and, without her, we would not have done our work on gender and our work on climate change would have been much less advanced. And so, I'm very grateful to stand here between these two great Ministers.

Let me say that, at the World Bank, we want to do the same, we want to marry a moral vision of ending poverty, of boosting shared prosperity with a scientific evidence base, and the good news is that we're 66 years--we have developed a group of staff who are very well trained in, for example, economics and engineering, but who also have experience in a practical way of taking knowledge and making it work on the ground for results. This has been a very high priority for the Swedish Government, getting results on the ground, and we're completely in agreement that that's our primary task. We take the generous donations that are given to us by our member countries and making sure that we actually provide the health care, the education, and the social protection, but to also set the foundations for economic growth that everybody wants.

If you ask people all over the world what they want, they want jobs, and they want a good job, a job that will not only provide them living but provide them dignity. We know that 90 percent of the jobs in the developing world, as reported in our World Development Report, are created in the private sector.

So, while we provide the foundations to help education, social protection, we also know that we need to build a foundation for the kind of growth--especially the private sector--that will provide everyone what they want, which is good jobs.

So, once again, let me just end by thanking the Swedish people one more time. Your gifts over the years, your generosity over the years, have had an enormous impact and will continue to have an impact.

MODERATOR:  Feel free to ask any questions.

QUESTION:  Two questions for Mr. Kim, one very broad and one a bit more specific.           

I was wondering if you could just give us a taste about your feeling about the growth outlook for next year. Do you expect it to be a recovery year?

Then, more specific on the--you are in a rather unusual step providing technical advice to Portugal and Greece. I was just wondering if you could update us on these developments [unclear].

DR. KIM:  So, the most recent growth estimates have been cut back a little bit, but I have to say, I [unclear]. I think that the discussions and the achievements of European countries over the past six months have been very real, and I think that the progress that has been made is very real and I fully expect the reforms to continue and I expect us to get back to growth in the near future. 

I also think that a lot of the fundamentals are in place in the United States where we remain hopeful that discussions around the fiscal cliff will resolve soon and in a way that doesn't slow down the growth that we're already seeing in the U.S. economy, and I'm especially encouraged by what I continue to see in countries in Africa and Latin America.

Africa maintained an over 5 percent growth rate throughout the last five years. We think, again, the changes that they made, the reforms that they went through 10, 15 years ago are now paying off, and the same--that is the case for Latin America.

So, the one thing that we would encourage everyone to do is to look less on the short term and really think about what we need to do today to put in place the drivers of long-term growth. That's certainly what the developing countries are hoping to do and this is what we're encouraging developing countries to do, [unclear].

And the second question was—

[Overlapping speakers.]

QUESTION:  Regarding [unclear]—

DR. KIM:  Yes.

So, we are--as I mentioned before, we have people inside the World Bank who had experience taking some very successful countries through crisis periods. So, for example, we were in Korea during their crisis in the 1990s, we've worked with Indonesia. We've worked with many countries that had very similar experiences to the ones that countries in Southern Europe are going through.

And so, quite simply, what we've suggested is that any country that's interested in working with us and tacking into our experience, for example, in looking at social sector expenditures. We have a lot of experience in assessing whether particular social sector expenditures are actually achieving the desired outcome and whether they're not, and helping countries to support the ones that are helping and maybe backing off on the ones that are not so helpful.

We also have a lot of experience in helping countries improve their business environment, how can they improve the business environment that's much more welcoming of investment.

So, these are two areas that we feel we have a lot of expertise in and that we've offered to any country, whether high-income, middle-income, or low-income that might want to [unclear] work with us.

QUESTION:  Have you had any other requests from the euro zone countries beyond Portugal and Greece?

DR. KIM:  No, we're talking with a lot of different countries at this time and we're hoping to be helpful in whatever way we can.

But again, we're an organization that works on request. People have to come to us.


QUESTION:  Mr. President, your predecessor Mr. Zoellick said that he was constrained by the framework which made Greece a high-income country, and we can see that this crisis going on in Europe has changed the face of the economic world.

Don’t you think it's time to redefine all this framework, middle-income, high-income?

DR. KIM:  Well, we're not lending money. We would not lend money to Greece. So, this is not a country that would qualify, for example, for an IBRD loan.

What we do, though, is that we are offering our expertise to any country in the world and I really do think--and in my experience in the health world, there are lots of innovations that are happening in the poorest and middle-income countries that actually could be helpful to high-income countries.

And so, we're simply saying that, in the high-income countries, not on a lending basis but on providing expertise--and it's not just that we're sending them reports. They don't need reports. What they need is the practical experience of actually working with countries as they go through these difficult periods of fiscal consolidation.

MINISTER BORG:  Let me just add the fact that when it came to the Latvian case, the World Bank was very much involved, particularly in health care and education and they played a very different role from the IMF and the United Nations, which is very important because, I mean, we need to restructure, we need to take all these important decisions, but what I think--what the World Bank was providing is kind of technical, practical assistance on how you also improve your social welfare systems, which is not going [unclear] and actually achieving results, which I think is--it's adding kind of more optimistic or positive note to the whole program or experience [unclear] the work the World Bank did in Latvia.

You want to...

QUESTION:  How do you assess what was achieved at the Doha meeting I’m citing the report you have published about "turn down the heat."

DR. KIM:  Well, I guess, to put it simply, we were disappointed but, unfortunately, not surprised.

The concern--and this has been especially clearly articulated by leaders here in Sweden:  We are now looking at the potential for a world that looks completely different from the world we live in today.

You know, we're here talking about science, and last night Professor Leibowitz talked about the problems that happened when populations or particular groups tried to deny the reality of scientific consensus. There's 97 percent consensus about the reality of manmade climate change and what we simply wanted to illustrate was that if the 4 degrees Celsius world happens--and some estimates are that, if we missed all our Visions targets, that could happen as early as 2060, 48 years from today. 

And so, in that world, what we'll be seeing is deadly heat waves like the one that killed 55,000 people in Russia. We'll begin to see those every year.

We'll begin to see these so-called once-in-a-lifetime storms happening all the time.

The acidity of the oceans will have gone up 150 percent.

We will have lost all of the coral reefs long ago and fundamental aspects of civilization--I think the change--I think there will be intense pressure for water, for food, and this can happen as early as 2060.

So, I don't think--I still don't think that we have come to terms with the reality of what the world will look like in this particular scenario and I don't think Doha reflected an awareness of that.

Here's what I will say, though:  There were some very, very inspiring and compelling [unclear] moments when representatives from developing countries came and spoke and said to all of us, "Please wake up."

DR. KIM:  [In progress]—about the legal terms of the agreement to envisioning the inspiring future that a real response to this--to the [unclear] climate change [unclear]. There is the possibility of a very inspiring future focused on renewables and that's what we want to bring to the attention of the world.

MODERATOR:  Well, can you pick up [unclear]--so, maybe if there's one, maybe, or two questions left. I mean, please, go ahead if you want, but if there is no one else—

[Overlapping speakers.]

QUESTION:  --will the climate change have for the World Bank, this [unclear].

DR. KIM:  So, our goal is--we're very engaged in not only trying to understand the science and making sure that everyone else understands the science, but we're of course very engaged in energy, and we want to do everything we can to help the world to move towards this world, to renewables.

So, our own lending for renewables has doubled over the past five years and we're going to continue to move in that direction. We feel that our role is to make clear to the world that it's not just that we have to think of a world with less energy or a world of general austerity, we think there is an exciting future that can be based on renewable energy that provides all the energy that we need and also helps us to clean up the environment.

So, we--this is not in the next five or ten years. We know that fossil fuels will be part of our future for the foreseeable future, for the next few years, but we think that the World Bank has a role in making sure that the financial barriers [unclear] this renewable future are as low as can be.

MINISTER CARLSSON:  And this is interesting, [unclear], about the mitigation, and also to see [unclear] and the real economics about--behind this, the good news, but then also how the World Bank is working very good on the adaptation side and of course the poor people with less resilience are those that are most vulnerable for the moment.

DR. KIM:  We need to do--

MINISTER CARLSSON:  And here, we have a very good cooperation and doing both at the same time.

DR. KIM:  We need to do both mitigation and adaptation and we're working on both.

For example, we're working together on varieties of grains that can withstand heat more effectively and also just what we need to do to help poor countries withstand the kinds of risks from these natural disasters that are happening. So, we're working in many areas to improve the resilience of countries to the effects of climate change, but we also have to work on revealing the economic incentive to get involved in the green economy future.

SPEAKER:  Okay. [Unclear]

So, thank you very much for [unclear] and I think there's time for a few questions.

DR. KIM:  Sure, yes. Sure, of course.