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Speeches & Transcripts November 21, 2020

Remarks by World Bank Group President David Malpass to the G20 Leaders’ Summit

Thank you, Your Highness. It is very good to see everyone here. These are challenging times and it is important to meet and work together.

While some countries are recovering, the pandemic is still taking a terrible toll, with lives lost and poverty levels sharply higher. Inequality and climate change are creating political instability and adding to fragility, refugee crises, and violence against women.

International cooperation has never been more important. With your support, the World Bank Group is fully on track to deliver a record surge to meet our $160 billion commitment. We’ve doubled the disbursement volumes in the quarter ending September 30 versus a year ago, and we’re maximizing the grant element for the poorest countries and people.

We have COVID response programs in 112 countries, using a fast-track mechanism that is now able to fund vaccine purchases and delivery. Our new $12 billion window aims to support the safe vaccination of a billion people. Our work is progressing rapidly on vaccine readiness assessments for 100 countries.

We’re working toward a greener, more sustainable recovery. The World Bank Group has been the largest international investor in climate finance over the past five years. Under my Presidency, the World Bank, IFC and MIGA are investing more in climate finance than at any time in our history. Looking forward, we intend to continue meeting our ambitious climate finance targets; and work to improve outcomes that help countries meet their NDCs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

For the poorest countries, which emit the least carbon, climate adaptation is vitally important. Yesterday, I joined the presidents of Central America to discuss the devastating hurricanes and flooding there and our crisis response.

I’ve been very pleased to see the progress the G20 has made on debt transparency and debt relief. These are important, positive steps for development, and I’ve been glad to see constructive responses from major creditors. President Xi’s commitments and last week’s announcements are helpful and welcome. Debt reduction and transparency will enable productive investment, a key to achieving an earlier, stronger and more lasting recovery. Of course, more needs to be done in this regard, as noted by Presidents Putin and von der Layen and others here today.

The debt challenges are becoming more frequent, including in Chad, Angola, Ethiopia and Zambia where, in the absence of more permanent debt relief, the poverty outlook remains bleak. We need to guard against doing too little now, and then suffering disorderly defaults and repeated debt restructurings as in the 1980s.

We’re working closely with you on FCV situations including the Sahel, Somalia, Lebanon, Gaza and the West Bank, and many others. In Sudan, I’m hopeful that arrears clearance can move quickly. This is made even more urgent by the refugee inflow from Ethiopia, and would allow substantial World Bank funding to begin flowing almost immediately.

Despite these challenges, there’s cause for optimism. As Prime Minister Morrison just reminded us, tomorrow can be better than today.  The recent news on vaccines is promising. And this once-in-a-century crisis has demonstrated why history doesn’t exactly repeat itself—because humankind does learn from its mistakes. The inequality of the impact has been tragic, but we can shorten the downturn and build a strong foundation that can lift all countries and all people. Thank you very much to our Saudi hosts for your G20 work this year, and we look forward to supporting further progress during the Italian G20 next year.