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Sunday, 7 April 2013

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World Bank President calls for poverty-free world

WASHINGTON: Calling for ambitious new goals to help the most vulnerable, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim outlined a bold agenda for the global community towards ending extreme poverty by 2030 and promoting shared prosperity to boost the incomes of the poorest 40 percent of the population in each country.

"We are at an auspicious moment in history when the successes of past decades and an increasingly favourable economic outlook combine to give developing countries a chance, for the first time ever, to end extreme poverty within a generation," Kim said in a speech at Georgetown University.

"Our duty now must be to ensure that these favourable circumstances are matched with deliberate decisions to realise this historic opportunity," he said.

Speaking in advance of the forthcoming World Bank and IMF Spring Meetings, Kim said that developing economies rebounded quickly from the crisis and are now in a fundamentally sound position, thanks to greater macroeconomic stability, a stronger rule of law, and increased investments in human capital and infrastructure.

Productivity growth in the private sector, the source of 90 percent of all jobs, is high.

Kim said that the first Millennium Development Goal (MDG), to halve extreme poverty, was achieved in 2010, five years ahead of time, after developing countries spent years investing in social safety nets and working hard to build the fiscal space and create the macroeconomic buffers to respond effectively if a crisis hits.

To achieve the more difficult goal of virtually eliminating extreme poverty, Kim described three factors necessary: First, to reach the goal by 2030 will require an acceleration of the growth rate observed over the past 15 years, and in particular sustained high growth in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Second, it will require efforts to enhance inclusiveness and curb inequality, and ensure that growth translates into poverty reduction, most importantly through job creation. And third, it will require that potential shocks, such as new food, fuel, or financial crises and climatic disasters, be averted or mitigated.

Noting that many global leaders, over many decades, have spoken about ending poverty, Kim recognised that to realise this vision will take a commitment from the entire global development community that matches the scope of the challenge, and he hailed recent calls from global leaders to take action.

"Recently a number of courageous politicians have committed to ending poverty in their countries, including Dilma Rousseff in Brazil and Joyce Banda in Malawi. Similarly, US President Barack Obama and UK Prime Minister David Cameron endorsed the vision of ending extreme poverty globally. These bold calls demand action," said Kim.

Kim said that 2030 is highly ambitious. "To reach the 2030 goal, we must halve poverty once, then halve it again, and then nearly halve it a third time, all in less than one generation."

Kim said that to meet global challenges, fighting extreme poverty alone is not enough. "We must collectively work to help all vulnerable people everywhere lift themselves well above the poverty line. At the World Bank Group we call this boosting shared prosperity."Though the World Bank Group's efforts are especially focused on the countries with the fewest resources, Kim said that the Bank Group's work is not just in poor countries, and he called for the Bank and its partners to work toward the second goal of boosting the incomes of the poorest 40 percent of the population in each country.

"Our work is in any country where there are poor people, or where people face economic exclusion. This goal will ensure we address the priorities of equity and inclusion more systematically in all of our strategic decision-making," said Kim.

 

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