Annual World Bank, IMF Meetings Launch Initiatives on Poverty, Women Entrepreneurs, City Resilience
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During the Annual Meetings of the World Bank Group and the IMF, the World Bank Group President reported that the global economy has begun to accelerate, but expressed concerns that risks such as a rise in protectionism, policy uncertainty, or possible financial market turbulence could derail the “fragile recovery".

Kim introduced the Human Capital Project, an accelerated effort to help countries invest more and more effectively in their people in order to boost inclusive economic growth and end extreme poverty.

The Development Committee issued a Communiqué that welcomes the creation of a Gender Diversity Working Group on the Board of Executive Directors.

15 October 2017: The Annual Meetings of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) considered topics related to several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), such as improving human capital, gender equality, youth, sustainable mobility, climate change and disaster risk financing. The meetings highlighted commitments from countries, such as the announcement by the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) that it would provide US$9million to the World Bank’s City Resilience Program (CRP), making it the first donor to the CRP. The World Bank officially launched the the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi), which seeks to advance women’s entrepreneurship in developing countries.

The 2017 meetings took place from 9-15 October 2017, in Washington, DC, US, and brought together finance ministers, central bank governors and other officials and stakeholders to discuss the challenges and opportunities faced by the global community.

The meetings discussed, inter alia: technology and financing for the SDGs; the role of multilateral development banks (MDBs); big data, their potential challenges and statistical implications; managing the challenge of natural disasters and climate change; 
insuring against natural disasters and economic shocks; the economic impact of tropical cyclones in small states; immigration and migration; youth and the future of work; education; food and agriculture; gender equality; inclusive growth; sustainable mobility; resilience and sustainable infrastructure; localizing the implementation of the SDGs; the pathways for peace; 
and consultation, participation and disclosure of information.

During an opening press conference, Jim Yong Kim, World Bank Group President, reported that after several years of disappointing growth, the global economy has begun to accelerate. He expressed concerns, however, that risks such as a rise in protectionism, policy uncertainty, or possible financial market turbulence could derail the “fragile recovery.” He highlighted the need for countries to build resilience against overlapping challenges, including the effects of climate change, natural disasters, forced displacement, famine and disease. Kim also noted the importance of health and education outcomes, adding that the World Bank is the largest education financer in the world and just made a US$15 billion commitment to healthcare.

The World Bank’s President introduced the Human Capital Project, an accelerated effort undertaken by the World Bank to help countries invest more and more effectively in their people in order to boost inclusive economic growth and end extreme poverty.

Kim called for improving human capital, saying there is a difference in economic growth as high as 1.25 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) per year between the top 25 percent of countries that have improved human capital and the bottom 25 percent of countries “that have not improved human capital so well” over the last 25 years. He introduced the Human Capital Project, an accelerated effort undertaken by the World Bank to help countries invest more and more effectively in their people in order to boost inclusive economic growth and end extreme poverty. Kim said the World Bank will work with a wide range of experts in economics, global health and education to develop the Human Capital Project over the next year, leading up to the 2018 World Bank IMF annual meetings in Indonesia.

On disaster risk financing, Naoko Ishii, Global Environment Facility (GEF) CEO and Chairperson, chaired a seminar on ‘Disaster Risk Financing: Options and Solutions for the Caribbean,’ which explored policy options for disaster risk financing. The World Bank organized its regular ‘Resilience Dialogue,’ which considered the role that quality infrastructure, including nature based solutions, will play in protecting communities from compounding climate and disaster risk.

Also on disaster, a World Bank press release underscored infrastructure’s vulnerability to natural disasters, highlighting devastation from severe flooding in South Asia, the hurricane destruction experienced throughout the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico and the extensive damage caused by two earthquakes in Mexico in 2017. The global average annual losses in the built environment are already estimated at US$314 billion, according to the World Bank. It notes that the World Bank’s CRP, a ten-year multi-donor trust fund, will be managed by the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) and will serve as an integrated platform for implementing resilience-enhancing measures, including infrastructure upgrades, stronger governance and policies and broader financing options for capital investment. In this context, the CRP will enable the World Bank to serve as a broker between public and private sectors, with special focus on stimulating investment from private capital, institutional investors, donor aid and finance, sovereign wealth funds and other multilateral development banks.

On gender equality, the World Bank launched the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi), following the inaugural meeting of its governing council on 12 October. We-Fi aims to help women in developing countries increase their access to the finance, markets, technology and networks necessary to start and grow a business. The initiative seeks to leverage donor funding to unlock more than US$1 billion in International Financial Institution (IFI) and commercial financing by working with financial intermediaries, funds and other market actors. According to the World Bank, We-Fi has already received more than $340 million in donor commitments. The initiative is a collaboration among the governments of Australia, Canada, China, Denmark, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, the Republic of Korea, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the UK and the US.

On youth, Mahmoud Mohieldin, World Bank Group Senior Vice President, announced that Nigeria had won the Ideas for Action initiative, a youth competition on innovative approaches, such as the smart use of technology and financing solutions to solve development challenges. The winning initiative, Nigeria’s ‘Kitovu’ envisions a web-and mobile-based decentralised fertilizer and seedling warehousing system that matches the right inputs to different farm locations owned by small-holder farmers in distant locations to lower cultivation cost and increase yields. The Ideas for Action initiative is organized by the World Bank Group in collaboration with the Zicklin Center for Business Ethics Research and other partners.

On 14 October, the Development Committee, a Ministerial-level forum of the World Bank Group and the IMF composed of 25 members, usually Ministers of Finance or Development, met and issued a Communiqué. The Communiqué calls on the World Bank Group to help countries maximize their development resources by drawing appropriately on private sector solutions to achieve the SDGs, and calls on the World Bank and the IMF to continue to work with countries to strengthen domestic resource mobilization (DRM), reduce illicit financial flows (IFIs), create instruments for crisis and disaster prevention and preparedness, and ensure economic and social resilience when crises and disasters occur. The Communiqué welcomes the creation of a Gender Diversity Working Group on the Board of Executive Directors and requests an update on its progress by the 2018 Spring Meetings. The Communiqué calls for action to address challenges such as climate change, migration and forced displacement, global health, and fragility, conflict and violence that threaten all countries, and applauds platforms such as the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility, the Global Concessional Financing Facility and the Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility as examples of World Bank leadership in helping countries apply solutions at national, regional and global levels.

The World Bank issued its 2017 annual report that recalls the World Bank Group’s goals to end extreme poverty by 2030 by decreasing the percentage of people living on less than US$1.90 a day and to boost shared prosperity by fostering income growth for poorest 40 per cent in every country. The report highlights the World Bank’s three priority areas on accelerating sustainable and inclusive economic growth, investing in people to build human capital and fostering resilience to global shocks and threats. On financing, the report states that the World Bank Group committed more than US$61 billion in loans, grants, equity investments, and guarantees to its members and private businesses from July 1, 2016, to June 30, 2017. The report notes that the International Finance Corporation (IFC) delivered about US$19.3 billion for private sector development, including US$4.6 billion to International Development Association (IDA) countries, and nearly US$900 million to fragile and conflict-affected areas, during the same period. In addition, the World Bank launched its World Development Report (WDR) 2018 on ‘Learning to Realize Education’s Promise,’ which calls for increased and improved learning assessments and metrics, observing that only half of all developing countries have data to monitor the education-related SDGs.

The meetings comprised several events, including on: supporting working parents and tackling childcare; new approaches for technology and civic engagement; sustainable mobility; and future harvest and who will grow tomorrow’s food. The event also included a Civil Society Townhall and a Civil Society Policy Forum, Facebook Live interviews with high-level officials and a Human Capital Summit that provided a platform for world leaders to make commitments and share action specifically on nutrition, universal health coverage, quality of education, skills and jobs, the early age, youth, and women and girls.

The Annual Meetings of the Board of Governors of the World Bank Group and the IMF bring together representatives from the 189 member countries, including central bankers, ministers of finance and development, private sector executives, representatives from civil society organizations and academics. The meetings enable participants to discuss issues of global concern, including the world economic outlook, poverty eradication, economic development and aid effectiveness. The Annual Meetings are complemented by the Spring Meetings. [World Bank Group, IMF Annual Meetings 2017 Webpage] [World Bank Group, IMF Annual Meetings 2017 Reporting] [World Bank President Opening Press Conference] [Donor Countries’ Statement on the Launch of the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative] [Development Committee Communiqué] [World Bank Press Release on Swiss Partnership on City Resilience Programme] [GEF Press Release on Financing for Disaster Reduction Discussions during Annual Meetings] [World Bank Group Annual Report 2017] [SDG Knowledge Hub on World Bank’s World Development Report] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on 2017 World Bank and IMF Spring Meetings]


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