The refugee crisis, a slowing economy and other global challenges were in focus for the central bankers, ministers of finance and development and civil society representatives participating in the 2016 World Bank Group - International Monetary Fund (IMF) Spring Meetings.
17 April 2016: The refugee crisis, a slowing economy and other global challenges were in focus for the central bankers, ministers of finance and development and civil society representatives participating in the 2016 World Bank Group – International Monetary Fund (IMF) Spring Meetings.
The annual events convened from 15-17 April 2016, in Washington, DC, US.
The World Bank-IMF Development Committee (DC) focused on ‘Forced Displacement and Development’ in its meeting on 16 April. The Committee, representing the 189 shareholder countries of the World Bank Group and the IMF: urged members to take action to support vulnerable people who have been forced to flee their homes; encouraged the institutions to partner with humanitarian organizations to help forcibly displaced people and host communities confront the root causes of the problem; urged the Bank to work with the World Health Organization (WHO) and others to help developing countries strengthen their health systems, including pandemic prevention and preparedness; urged the Bank to finish preparing its Pandemic Emergency Facility and foster a new market for pandemic risk management insurance; welcomed the Bank’s renewed gender strategy; and urged the Bank and the IMF to step up efforts to find financing for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The Development Committee also welcomed the World Bank’s Climate Change Action Plan to: help developing countries add 30 gigawatts of renewable energy to the world’s energy capacity; bring early warning systems to 100 million people; and develop climate-smart agriculture investment plans for at least 40 countries.
Jim Yong Kim, World Bank President, stressed that the international community will not reach its goal of ending poverty unless nations are secure and citizens are not confronted by conflict and violence. Noting that demand for lending from the Bank is at its highest for a non-crisis period, he explained that the World Bank Group is currently working “urgently and in new ways” with partners to find solutions to these issues. Kim underscored that the Bank can no longer wait for humanitarian experts to do their work and only enter at a later stage with its long term solutions, after months or years, because “countries implode.”
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the international community must respond to the “monumental” displacement and refugee crisis with “monumental solidarity,” and added that the upcoming World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul will focus on the root causes of displacement and help determine the global response. Noting that governments are struggling for solutions and often respond by shutting borders and detaining asylum seekers and migrants, he called for strengthening international cooperation mechanisms and boosting the international community’s collective work. Ban welcomed the Bank’s new initiative of offering concessional loans to middle-income countries (MICs) hosting large refugee populations, and stressed the need to: create “safe, orderly and regular pathways” for refugees and migrants; enhance cooperation to fight traffickers and smugglers; continue to fund humanitarian and development projects hand-in-hand; counter xenophobic narratives; and share responsibilities in a more equitable, predictable and transparent way.
Helen Clark, Administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), called on policymakers to mobilize the full range of economic policy instruments available, including monetary, fiscal and structural measures to promote financial stability, strengthen demand and boost productivity. She said global policy efforts should focus on: strengthening development co-operation; meeting official development assistance (ODA) commitments; aligning private investment with sustainable development objectives; facilitating public-private partnerships (PPPs) where appropriate; and enhancing domestic resource mobilization and international tax cooperation.
Following the Development Committee meeting, Japan, France, Germany, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, UK, US and the European Commission pledged contributions to the New Financing Initiative to Support the Middle East and North Africa Region, launched jointly by the World Bank Group, the UN and the Islamic Development Bank Group in October 2015.
Speaking at an event on ‘Forced Displacement: A Global Development Challenge,’ co-hosted by the World Bank Group and the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Queen Rania of Jordan said her country has received 1.3 million Syrian refugees over the past five years, the influx being a “demographic shock” that is exhausting Jordan’s social and physical infrastructure “to its absolute limits.” Noting that international contributions have made up less than a third of Jordan’s expenses, she further highlighted that there is a cost to depriving people of the tools to make the most of their own lives and that the global community is already paying. Queen Rania cautioned that if the international community does not invest in people now, “the bill of our neglect will only rise.”
David Miliband, president of the International Rescue Committee and former UK Secretary of State for foreign affairs, said the most significant thing about the current conversation is that governments and multilateral development banks (MDBs) are talking about not just more aid, but “better” aid, including jobs and opportunities for refugees to get an education and become part of the economy. Paul Polman, CEO Unilever, said the private sector can make a difference in fragile and conflict situations by helping economies to function. If the private sector does not positively contribute to making the world work, he said, “we don’t have a long-term future either.” [World Bank Press Release, 16 April] [World Bank Press Release, 15 April] [UN Press Release] [UNDP Press Release] [Spring Meetings Website]