Good morning, good afternoon, good evening. I’m very pleased to be here alongside my friends and colleagues: Kristalina, Ngozi, Tedros, and Strive.
Thanks to the Paris Peace Forum and ONE Campaign for your warm invitation. I should note that the Paris Peace Forum has advocated for peace for decades. It makes sense that this year’s focus is on working toward an end to the COVID-19 pandemic and preparing for future crises.
This has been a challenging year for all of us – including the World Bank – and we have mounted an extraordinary response.
Last week, I announced that the Bank Group was completing our fiscal year with a record expansion of financing, including a substantial COVID-19 response. This is the largest and fastest crisis response ever in our history.
So far, we have committed over $155 billion to fight COVID-19’s health, economic, and social impacts. We’ve scaled up our financing by 60%, despite working from home, helping more than 100 countries address the health emergency. This includes strengthening health systems and pandemic preparedness, protecting the poor, providing social protection systems, and preserving jobs. While COVID-19 is the immediate concern, we aren’t complacent in addressing competing priorities, like climate change, fragility, and inclusive growth.
It is clear that the pandemic will not end until there is greater access to vaccines. Lack of vaccine distribution is leaving millions of people vulnerable to the virus and it’s allowing variants to emerge. Vaccines offer the best path to ending this pandemic and putting the world on a path to recovery.
The pandemic needs to be controlled in all countries to foster a truly global recovery. The strong but uneven economic recovery we are seeing underscores the need for action from governments, the private sector, and the international community. The World Bank Group is playing an important role. We are using our convening power, knowledge, and global presence to help countries identify gaps. We are also providing the financing and policy solutions to fill those gaps in coordination with relevant partners on the ground.
Last week, I had the pleasure to convene and chair our first meeting of a Task Force on COVID-19 Vaccines, Therapeutics and Diagnostics for Developing Countries. Together, we have committed to redoubling our efforts to get vaccines into people’s arms.
In that vein, last week I was pleased to announce that the Bank has approved COVID-19 vaccine deployment operations for over 50 developing countries – over half of which are in Africa – for a total of over $4 billion dollars in financing. We expect that many more operations will be approved over the coming weeks, with requests for financing received from a total of 41 African countries alone.
In view of the increased demand for vaccine financing from the Bank, I was also pleased to announce last week that the World Bank is expanding its financing available for vaccines to $20 billion over the next 18 months.
With less than 1% of the African population vaccinated, this is a priority area for us, and we are excited to be working in partnership with the African Union to fast track vaccine acquisition on the continent and avoid a third wave. This should provide resources to purchase and deploy vaccines for up to 400 million people across Africa in support of the Africa Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT).
In addition, the International Finance Corporation – our private sector development arm – has committed over $1.1 billion to help healthcare systems globally respond to the pandemic and become more resilient. Just last week, IFC and partners concluded the mobilization of a major financing package for Aspen Pharmacare Holdings Limited – a leading pharmaceutical company in South Africa that is playing a major role in producing COVID-19 treatment therapies and vaccines on the African continent.
We are also preparing for future crises. Working on preparedness is integral to the mission of the World Bank Group and requires investments across sectors, not just in healthcare. COVID has shown that social protection, education, infrastructure, and digital connectivity are crucial, along with a focus on the poorest and most vulnerable. We must also invest in sustainable and safe food systems.
The World Bank Group is committed to supporting long-term development and growth.
This is a critical moment for the World Bank as we enter the IDA20 replenishment cycle. We’ve brought forward this replenishment to mobilize additional financing and support countries in building back better from the crisis.
Although IDA’s response has been fast and at scale with $53 billion approved, a sustained IDA response is needed to save lives and protect livelihoods. For many countries IDA makes up the largest share of the multilateral response to COVID-19 , and IDA20 is one of the tools we are using to mobilize resources to support IDA countries in their recovery efforts. The replenishment process is underway targeting donor pledges in December 2021.
As you can see, we are moving at both speed and scale, but much more is needed. We need strong partnerships and cooperation, within countries and across regions, to build resilience and combat this pandemic that affects each of us, rich or poor, in every country.