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Speeches & Transcripts October 12, 2017

World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim Opening Remarks at the 2017 Annual Meetings Press Conference

Good morning, and welcome to the 2017 World Bank Group-IMF Annual Meetings.

This week, finance ministers and central bankers from our 189 members countries  are gathering here in Washington to discuss the challenges and opportunities we face as a global community. These discussions will help countries chart the path forward for how to improve the lives of their people – and in doing so, they should help set the agenda for the world’s economy in the coming year.

Here’s what we’re seeing now: after several years of disappointing growth, the global economy has begun to accelerate. Trade is picking up, but investment remains weak. We’re concerned that risks such as a rise in protectionism, policy uncertainty, or possible financial market turbulence could derail this fragile recovery.

Overall, we’re seeing growth rise in most developing and advanced economies – which is why countries need to make critical investments now. This is the time to implement the reforms that are going to insulate against potential downturns in the future.

Countries need to build resilience against the overlapping challenges we face today, including the effects of climate change, natural disasters, conflict, forced displacement, famine, and disease.

To help countries address these challenges, we’re working to maximize finance for development. We’re pursuing private sector solutions whenever they can help achieve development goals, and reserving scarce public finance for where it is most needed – particularly investments in human capital.  

All countries need to invest more in their people. Last week, I spoke at Columbia University, where I explained why this is so critical, and I introduced an accelerated effort called the Human Capital Project that we’re undertaking at the World Bank Group to help countries invest more – and more effectively – in their people.

We’re hoping that this project can show heads of state and finance ministers how long-term investments in their people can help grow economies – and create the political space for leaders to make these critical investments.

Over the next year, leading up to the 2018 Annual Meetings in Indonesia, we will be working with a wide range of experts in economics, global health, and education to develop the Human Capital Project. We think this effort has the potential to be a game-changer, in the same way our Doing Business report was when it launched 15 years ago.

This is the latest effort by the World Bank Group to meet rising aspirations all over the world, truly create equality of opportunity, and build new foundations in the project of human solidarity.

I’ll be happy to take your questions.