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Speeches & Transcripts

Speech by World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim at the United Nations General Assembly

September 25, 2015

World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim 70th Session of the United Nations General Assembly New York City, United States

As Prepared for Delivery

Thank you, your Excellency, for the opportunity to address this historic Summit.

Together, we have reached an important milestone in adopting the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development. Its goals and targets represent our commitment to a more ambitious agenda for international development in the next 15 years. They reflect our dream for a world in which everyone, everywhere can reach their full potential. And they seek to preserve our planet – what Pope Francis called our “common home’’ -- for all future generations.

At the World Bank Group, we pledge to use our comprehensive experience and knowledge of financing development. We’ll adapt the financial tools of the rich to serve the poor.

As we discussed two months ago in Addis Ababa, the multilateral development banks together plan to provide financial support of more than $400 billion dollars for the first three years of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development. In addition, the World Bank and the IMF have launched a joint initiative to strengthen tax systems in developing countries; our aim is to assist lower-income countries to increase their taxes by at least 2 to 4 percent of GDP.  These actions are the first essential steps toward raising the resources needed for the Sustainable Development Goals – moving from billions to trillions of dollars in development assistance.

We also will bring our best global development knowledge to tackle the world’s toughest challenges. We have over 50 years of development experience helping countries grow their economies, invest in their people and insure them against falling into poverty. More than ever, we know what has worked and what hasn’t when it comes to development. Working with the priorities set by developing countries, we’ll tackle challenges and create strategies to resolve them.

Based on our experience with the Millennium Development Goals, we also know that the Sustainable Development Goals will change the way we work. They will ensure we’re doing all we can, as effectively as we can, and as fast as we can to help the poor and the vulnerable.

I’ve experienced the power of setting goals and putting the poor first throughout my career. In the suburbs of Lima, Peru, my organization, Partners In Health, worked to provide poor people the standard of healthcare available in developed countries. When I was director of the WHO’s HIV/AIDS Department in Geneva, we set a target of treating 3 million people infected with HIV/AIDS in less than three years. And at the World Bank Group, we’ve committed to ending extreme poverty by 2030 and boosting shared prosperity.

In each instance, clear goals focused our wills, our minds and our actions. They made us look carefully at whether what we were actually doing helped those in need. They also made us work differently; they ensured that our strategy had a clear focus with expected outcomes.  

For too long, our low aspirations for the poor have often turned out to be their worst enemy. We have not been bold enough in helping them lift themselves out of misery. The poverty of our imagination has prevented us from building a more just and more prosperous world. But the Sustainable Development Goals give us an agenda that is more ambitious than any before it.

I believe we are up to the task. The multilateral development banks and the IMF will work closely together to substantially increase the amount of financing available to meet our high aspirations. We  are building on a record of great accomplishment – over the last 15 years, close to 1 billion people have lifted themselves out of extreme poverty. Such progress shows that even seemingly impossible development goals are entirely possible. We are now the first generation in history that can end extreme poverty. We must not turn away from this challenge. We must seize this moment and use all of our knowledge and grit to reach these new goals. We will succeed. Together, we will make the world a more just and prosperous place for generations to come. Thank you very much.