24 October 2019
WBG/IMF Annual Meetings Focus on Better Outcomes for Poor, Climate Investments
Photo by IISD/ENB
story highlights

The Development Committee Communiqué calls for enhanced engagement to advance on crisis management, gender, climate change, energy security and biodiversity, among other issues.

In 2019, the WBG committed USD 17.8 billion to climate-related investments, and climate targets doubled for fiscal years 2021-2025 to USD 200 billion.

Mobilizing long-term private investment is critical for achieving the SDGs, which could open up an estimated USD 12 trillion in market opportunities and create 380 million new jobs, noted the UNDP Administrator.

The UN Secretary-General highlighted the role of finance ministers in helping enhance NDCs.

21 October 2019: The 2019 Annual Meetings of the World Bank Group (WBG) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) focused on ways to achieve better outcomes for the poor, and to advance the SDGs and climate action, among other issues. The event included meetings of the Development Committee, the Forum on Small States, the International Monetary and Financial Committee (IMFC) and the Coalition of Finance Ministers for Climate Action. Replenishment of the International Development Association (IDA), the WBG’s fund for the poorest countries, was also discussed.

During the Annual Meetings plenary on 18 October, WBG President David Malpass said that while 700 million people still live in extreme poverty, countries can unleash growth that benefits all of society with the right mix of policies and structural reforms. He identified challenges going forward, including: slowing global growth; insufficient investment rates in developing countries; climate change and extreme weather; and fragility, conflict and violence (FCV) in many countries. He highlighted the WBG’s efforts to overcome these barriers by: investing in human capital and health, including preventing maternal and child mortality; investing in urban infrastructure and helping national and municipal governments develop fiscal and financial systems to increase revenues and access private capital; and digital systems that enable the poor to electronically receive remittances, foreign aid, social safety net payments and earnings, and save and transact at no cost.

Malpass further noted that in 2019, the WBG committed USD 17.8 billion to climate-related investments, and that climate targets doubled for fiscal years 2021-2025 to USD 200 billion through, among others, an IDA contribution of more than USD 1 billion annually over three years to grid and off-grid solutions for electricity access in countries with high electricity deficits.

The Development Committee, a WGB-IMF ministerial-level forum on development issues that met on 19 October, issued a communiqué, which calls for enhanced engagement to advance on such issues as crisis management and FCV, gender, knowledge, climate change, regional integration, energy security, biodiversity, illicit financial flows and pandemics. More specifically, the communiqué calls for, inter alia:

  • the IMF and WBG to promote effective regulatory and operational measures for fostering tax transparency and combating illegal tax avoidance, money laundering, illicit financial flows and other challenges to the international financial system’s integrity;
  • free, fair, non-discriminatory, transparent, predictable and stable trade and investment, while protecting the environment and ensuring that gains from participation are equitably distributed;
  • the World Bank to continue working with the public and private sectors to prioritize improving human capital outcomes, such as making progress towards universal health coverage in developing countries, ensuring quality education and lifelong learning to prepare workers for current and future job market needs, and investing in and empowering women; and
  • the WBG’s new FCV Strategy, which addresses drivers of FCV in affected countries and their impact on vulnerable populations, to guide context-specific and regional interventions, policy dialogue and operational partnerships.

The 40th meeting of the IMF’s International Monetary and Financial Committee (IMFC), which advises and reports to the IMF Board of Governors on the supervision and management of the international monetary and financial system, concluded with a communiqué, which, among other things, highlights efforts to achieve the SDGs, including by supporting domestic and multilateral efforts to address and build resilience to the macroeconomic consequences of pandemics, cyber risks, climate change and natural disasters, energy scarcity, conflicts, migration, and refugee and other humanitarian crises.

The IDA replenishment, which takes place every three years, was among the issues addressed by the Annual Meetings. The proposed 2019 replenishment is based on five themes: jobs and economic transformation; FCV; climate change; gender and development; and governance and institutions. It will also incorporate four cross-cutting issues: addressing debt vulnerabilities; exploiting digital technology opportunities; building human capital; and promoting inclusion of people with disabilities.

Addressing the Forum for Small States, UN Secretary-General António Guterres called on the international community to fund disaster preparedness, risk reduction and adaptation measures, and on countries to ramp up ambition of their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) by 2020. He called for expanding concessional financing to vulnerable small states, and debt relief to help them achieve economic growth, including through the proposed Debt for Climate Adaptation Swap initiative that includes a Caribbean Resilience Fund. He urged accelerating action to implement the SDGs in small states, with international public and private finance.

Speaking to the Coalition of Finance Ministers for Climate Action, Guterres highlighted the role of finance ministers in helping enhance NDCs, citing, for example: tools, such as tax policy, controlled spending and climate budgeting; their influence on procurement rules and creating an enabling environment for green infrastructure and other investments in adaptation and resilience; and their ability to end fossil fuel subsidies and help shift taxation from income to carbon. He said the 57 carbon pricing initiatives that have been implemented globally raised USD 44 billion in 2018 alone.

In his remarks to both the Development Committee and the IMFC, UN Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Achim Steiner said mobilizing long-term private investment is critical for achieving the SDGs, which could open up an estimated USD 12 trillion in market opportunities and create 380 million new jobs, while climate action would result in about USD 26 trillion in savings by 2030. Steiner noted that pricing carbon, removing fuel subsidies and ensuring that fiscal policy and budget decisions are directed towards increasing resilience and reducing carbon emissions are all critical to accelerating climate action, and highlighted the important role of finance ministers in this regard. He emphasized that a carbon tax would close the SDG financing gap to 2030 and beyond.

The WBG/IMF Annual Meetings convened in Washington, D.C., US, from 14-20 October 2019. The WBG/IMF Annual Meetings bring together central bankers, finance and development ministers, private sector executives, civil society representatives and academia to discuss, inter alia, world economic outlook, poverty eradication, economic development and aid effectiveness. The WBG/IMF Spring Meetings will take place from 17-19 April 2020 in Washington DC. [Annual Meetings Website] [World Bank Press Release on Focusing on Better Outcomes for Poor] [Statement on Annual Meetings from the World Bank President] [Remarks by World Bank President during Opening Press Conference] [Remarks by IMF Managing Director during Opening Press Conference]

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