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Speeches & Transcripts October 16, 2019

Victoria Kwakwa's Opening Speech at the China Poverty Reduction International Forum

Vice Ministers of the State Council Information Office and the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development, representatives of the International Poverty Reduction Center in China, fellow colleagues from international organizations and UN family, FAO, IFAD, WFP, UNDP, and ADB, representative of private sector, universities and NGOs, distinguished international guests, ladies and gentlemen,  

It is a great pleasure to address you today to give one of the opening remarks, on behalf of the World Bank Group, to mark the 4th consecutive China Poverty Reduction International Forum. The Forum serves as a knowledge sharing platform on the progress, practices and innovations in poverty reduction between China and the international development community.  Previous 2017 forum brought together over 100 participants from 7 countries, including officials, experts as well as representatives from international organizations, academia, business and NGOs to discuss lessons from global poverty reduction efforts, specific role of governance solutions and distill applicable lessons from China's poverty reduction experiences. We hope this forum will continue successful work towards deepening global knowledge on most pressing problem for development.

China had previously sustained an unprecedented four decades of high growth. It resulted in poverty decline unprecedented in its speed and scale, pulling 850 million Chinese out of poverty. China’s progress in poverty reduction has global significance. China alone accounts for three-quarters of the reduction in global poverty from the 1980s to today.

The World Bank Group is committed to fighting poverty in all its dimensions and to boost shared prosperity. We use the latest evidence and analysis to help governments develop sound policies that can help the poorest in every country, and focus our investments in areas that are critical to improving lives.

Knowledge played a pivotal role in the Bank’s involvement in China’s poverty reduction strategies. Primary vehicles for influence were studies, especially three poverty assessment – and the World Bank produced such influential reports in 1992, 2001 and 2009 - with their strategic policy focus, and high-level conferences that paved the way to consensus leading to major reforms, going back to 1982. We plan to continue this tradition by launching a new study this year.

Despite the progress made in reducing poverty globally, the number of people living in extreme poverty globally remains unacceptably high. Given worsening global growth forecasts, poverty reduction may not be fast enough to reach the target of ending extreme poverty by 2030. According to the most recent estimates, in 2015, 10 percent of the world’s population lived on less than US$1.90 a day, compared to 11 percent in 2013. While poverty rates have declined in all regions, progress has been uneven. This is why working with successful countries such as China allows the World Bank Group to build its own knowledge and capabilities and to transfer development lessons to other countries.

Cooperating with China on global development and poverty eradication has been a theme in the World Bank-China partnership since 2006. Over the past several years, China has made several important contributions to global knowledge. In 2015 China set up the China World Bank Partnership Facility which has since supported capacity building and knowledge exchange across a wide range of countries, with a focus on Africa.

In 2020, China and the World Bank Group will celebrate the 40th Anniversary of their Partnership. The anniversary coincides with the official target date for the eradication of extreme poverty in China. The new study Poverty Reduction in China: Lessons for the World and Challenges Ahead is aiming to build on on-going initiatives, including this forum to curate the available knowledge and tailor it to development challenges.

The commemoration of 40 years of partnership is not just an opportunity to learn lessons – it is also a chance to look ahead and consider China’s own policy options for addressing remaining social vulnerabilities once extreme poverty has been eradicated.