Just ahead of the annual World Bank/IMF spring meetings, the Bank’s new CEO, Kristalina Georgieva, spoke with me about a new way of thinking at the 72-year-old institution. The Bank has renewed ambition, she told me, to be a catalyst for massive transformative investment in development. She went on to lay out how the Bank plans to do that in this edition of the CGD Podcast.
CGD Policy Blogs
In 2016 on the CGD Podcast, we have discussed some of development's biggest questions: How do we pay for development? How do we measure the sustainable development goals (SDGs)? What should we do about refugees and migrants? And is there life yet in the notion of globalism? The links to all the full podcasts featured and the work they reference are below, but in this edition, we bring you highlights of some of those conversations.
Last week, the World Bank released a new Forest Action Plan (FAP) following presentation to the Board’s Committee on Development Effectiveness. And the tagline for a high-level event during the Spring Meetings is “Think Forests: Why Investing in Forests is the Next Big Thing.”
Here are my wishes for commitments that countries could make at each of three big development-relevant international events in the next 12 months. I find it harder than ever to make such a list this year; global cooperation is becoming harder than ever to manage. With the rise of China and other emerging markets, cooperation in what is now a multipolar system is more necessary than it has been in decades, but more and more elusive. That puts a premium on strengthening the world’s international institutions and on—yes—UN and other international conferences and convenings and conversations in search of a global consensus on norms, programs, actions, and goals
This year, a common theme of those discussions was financing for infrastructure investment in developing countries. I’m disappointed, but not surprised, that these conversations tend to focus exclusively on the need for new bricks-and-mortar infrastructure to meet needs for energy, water, or transport services, and seldom acknowledge the need to maintain the ecological infrastructure that already provides a large portion of those services for many of the world’s poor.
Over the past week World Bank president Jim Kim’s mind seems to have been on water and development. But what does he mean by “water” and how does this relate to the huge water-related development challenges faced by the World Bank’s borrowers?
Over the past few months, quite a bit of high-level rhetoric has surrounded World Bank funding of coal projects in developing countries. On one side, Christiana Figueres, the executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, stated that “it is no longer necessary [for the World Bank to invest in coal projects] because we have many other technologies that can come forward.” On the other side, World Bank president Jim Kim stated that “we will look for everything we can possibly do to avoid [coal projects] but look, poor people should not pay the price with their lives of mistakes that people have been making in the developed world for a very long time.”
Many obstacles to development transcend national borders and therefore cannot be adequately addressed within a single country. These include issues such as drug resistance and other cross-border health risks, financial crises contagion, money laundering, water scarcity, fisheries collapse and, of course, climate change. Economists call efforts to address these problems Global Public Goods (GPGs). Like other public goods, funding for GPGs is chronically in short supply: of $125 billion in annual official development assistance (ODA ) only about $3 billion goes to GPGs.
This is a joint post with Lawrence MacDonald.
What do the stalled climate talks getting underway in Doha, Qatar, this week and the partisan jousting in Washington over the impending “fiscal cliff” have in common? Not much if you get your information from the mainstream media, which has mostly either ignored the idea or poured cold water on it. Below the surface, however, there is fresh interest in the United States in taxing carbon pollution, including from some unexpected quarters. Such a move can’t come soon enough.
World Bank president Jim Kim delivered a speech and responded to questions today at Brookings in his first public event since taking the helm at the world’s top development organization on July 1. He struck me as thoughtful, well-informed, articulate and dedicated to multilateralism and the bank’s mission of reducing global poverty. You can see his speech and the Q&A here.