UN Secretary-General António Guterres called for the G20 to lead on the launch of an SDG Stimulus amounting to USD 500 billion a year “to address short-term liquidity issues, speed up the pace of debt relief, and enable investment at scale in the SDGs”.
The World Bank/IMF Annual Meetings “struggled to achieve consensus on urgently needed actions,” with the Chair of the Development Committee issuing a statement, “which reflects the views of the majority of Committee Members”.
The 2022 Annual Meetings of the World Bank Group (WBG) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) raised the alarm to the dangers posed by increased poverty, food shortages, energy shocks, debt crises, climate change, inflation, and war, and discussed how to move forward to help the poor and the vulnerable.
The event, which convened from 10-16 October in Washington, DC, US, included meetings of the World Bank Development Committee and the International Monetary and Financial Committee (IMFC).
Ahead of the meetings, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva emphasized the need to “act now and act together,” to prevent a world with more fragility, greater uncertainty, higher economic volatility, and geopolitical confrontations from becoming the “new normal.” She called for: stabilizing the global economy by addressing the most immediate challenges; and revitalizing global cooperation and transforming our economy to build resilience against future shocks.
Addressing the 2022 Annual Meetings plenary, WBG President David Malpass said “the Bretton Woods Institutions will need to consider their roles, governance, and capital structure, and evolve to address climate change and global public goods.” He highlighted “severe reversals in development” from the COVID-19 pandemic, geopolitical conflicts, and extreme weather events, underscoring setbacks in education and human health and that 60% of low-income countries “are in debt distress or high risk of it.”
Our data shows that 70% of children in low- and middle-income countries are in learning poverty.
— WBG President David Malpass
Speaking at the Development Committee, UN Secretary-General António Guterres called for the Group of 20 (G20) to lead on the launch of an SDG Stimulus amounting to USD 500 billion a year “to address short-term liquidity issues, speed up the pace of debt relief, and enable investment at scale in the SDGs.”
In his statements to the meetings of the IMFC and the Development Committee, UN Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Achim Steiner echoed that message, urging immediate action “for a sustainable common future – before the global economy tips into a recession, before the world becomes more fragmented.”
Yet, as Steiner noted at the conclusion of the meetings, the World Bank/IMF Annual Meetings “struggled to achieve consensus on urgently needed actions.” The Chair of the Development Committee issued a statement, “which reflects the views of the majority of Committee Members.” In it, Committee members highlight that the war in Ukraine has exacerbated the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, rising debt, climate change and biodiversity loss, and other crises. They call for a “renewed focus on protecting and improving the well-being of poor households and the most vulnerable,” urging the WBG to, among other actions:
- scale up social safety nets to meet food, nutrition, and energy needs;
- improve the production capacities and consumption efficiency of food and energy value chains;
- promote trade flows in the food, agricultural, and energy sectors, trade finance, and regional integration; and
- step up investments to support agricultural technology and improve the resilience of food and energy systems.
Committee members stress that addressing climate, biodiversity, and sustainable development “is more critical than ever,” and call on the WBG and other multilateral development banks (MDBs) to align with the Paris Agreement. They also express their “deep” concern about the global learning crisis, and encourage the WBG to close data gaps and continue to focus on foundational skills for all children and on teacher and curriculum quality.
Committee members also encourage the WBG and the IMF to work with policymakers to address rising public and private debt vulnerabilities.
Fighting inflation and protecting the most vulnerable populations while safeguarding debt sustainability, growth, and macro-financial stability are also among the IMFC’s priorities going forward, as per the Chair’s statement. According to a UNDP report on international debt relief issued before the Annual Meetings, 54 developing economies accounting for 3% of global GDP but over 50% of the world’s poor are in urgent need of debt relief. [WBG/IMF Annual Meetings 2022 Website] [World Bank Story about 2022 Annual Meetings]