Speeches & Transcripts

Remarks by World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim at the World Bank-IMF Spring Meetings 2016

April 14, 2016

World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim Opening Press Conference, World Bank-IMF Spring Meetings 2016 Washington, DC, United States

As Prepared for Delivery

Good morning everyone, and welcome to the 2016 Spring Meetings of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund.

I would like to first acknowledge our 189th member country -- the Pacific island state of Nauru, which officially joined the World Bank Group just two days ago. On behalf of the institution, I’m very happy to welcome the Republic of Nauru to the World Bank Group.

At our last gathering in Lima, we announced that for the first time the percentage of people living in extreme poverty around the world was projected to fall under 10 percent globally in 2015. Today, roughly 700 million people live in extreme poverty – a reduction of more than 1 billion people than 15 years ago.

But the weakening global economy threatens our progress toward ending extreme poverty by 2030.  In the global economy, there are not many bright spots around the world -- the United States is one among the developed economies and India is another among the middle-income countries. Growth remains weak in Europe and Japan, and among emerging economies, Russia and Brazil are projected to post negative growth once again. We have just downgraded our global growth economic forecast this year to 2.5 percent from 2.9 percent.

In this period of global economic slowdown, we’re also facing major global challenges -- forced displacement, climate change, and pandemics. We’re now working urgently and in new ways with partners to find solutions to these issues that affect all of us.

On forced displacement, for instance, we’re using innovative financial tools right now to fund projects that will create thousands of jobs for Syrian refugees and their Jordanian hosts. We’re also working with Lebanon to make sure all children in the country – Lebanese and Syrian refugees – are going to school. We need to do much, much more to provide hope and opportunity for young people in countries affected by conflict, especially in the Middle East and Africa.

On climate change, we must deliver on the promises of the Paris climate agreement, and yet we’re seeing countries around the world about to sign agreements for the dirtiest source of energy, coal. So we’re working with countries right now to piece together deals that would make renewable energy cheaper than coal.

Because of the weak global economy, and because of these global challenges, the demand for our services has never been higher outside of a crisis period. We project that we’ll provide more than $25 billion in loans this year to middle-income countries – that’s $10 billion more than we had projected. Including this year’s projections, World Bank lending will top $150 billion dollars in the last four years – more than any other four-year span in the World Bank’s history in a non-crisis period.

This increased demand underscores the importance for donor countries to support our replenishment this year for the International Development Association, or IDA, which gives low-cost loans or grants to the poorest countries. In the last five years alone, IDA has supported the recruitment or training of 5.1 million teachers; antenatal care for 17 million pregnant women; improved water services for 50 million people; and the construction or improvement of 102,000 kilometers of roads.

IDA also helps developing countries enact policies that promote inclusive economic growth, attract private sector investment, and invest in people’s education and health. A strong IDA replenishment this year will be essential for us to work on our goals to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity, to continue our intense focus on the poorest countries in the world including in Africa and South Asia, and to broaden our work to tackle these global challenges.

Thank you very much. I’ll now take your questions.