We are at an auspicious moment in history. Thanks to the successes of the past few decades and a favorable economic outlook, developing countries now have an unprecedented opportunity: the chance to end extreme poverty within a generation. This opportunity must not be squandered.
Earlier this year, we in the World Bank Group set two specific and measurable goals for ourselves and our partners in the development community: effectively ending extreme poverty by shrinking the share of people living on less than $1.25 a day to 3 percent by 2030, and promoting shared prosperity by raising the incomes of the poorest 40 percent of the population in every developing country.
These are ambitious goals, and success is far from inevitable. Nearly five years after the global financial crisis began, in 2008, the world’s economic recovery remains fragile. Developed countries struggle with high unemployment and weak economic growth. Developing countries are growing more slowly than before the crisis. Moreover, the fight against poverty will become increasingly difficult as we push toward our target, since those who remain poor will be the hardest to reach.
Other challenges could pose new threats to poverty reduction. Conflict and political instability present major risks because they increase poverty and create long-term obstacles to development. Moreover, a warming planet could increase the prevalence and size of drought-affected areas, and make extreme weather events more frequent, with unpredictable costs in terms of lives and financial resources.
Yet, I remain optimistic that achieving the goals is within our reach. Doing so will require systemic and relentless collaboration from the World Bank Group, our 188 member countries, and other partners.
Meeting the development challenges ahead will require that we find and leverage synergies across the World Bank Group and focus our resources on priority areas. This year, the World Bank Group committed $52.6 billion in loans, grants, equity investments, and guarantees to its members and private businesses. The commitments from IBRD totaled $15.2 billion, compared to $20.6 billion in 2012. IDA, the Bank’s fund for the poorest, made commitments of $16.3 billion, compared to $14.8 billion in 2012.
This Annual Report describes the many programs and projects that World Bank lending supports, and demonstrates how they are helping to end extreme poverty and promote shared prosperity in partner countries across the world.
Making improvements in energy, the environment, infrastructure, health, and education, as well as in countries’ business environment, all represent difficult and complex challenges. Take jobs, for instance. As the World Development Report 2013 describes, jobs can provide a transformational path out of poverty for men, women, and youth. Beyond an individual’s income, jobs can bring great value to society through their broad influence on living standards, productivity, and social cohesion. And because almost nine out of every ten jobs created in the developing world originate in the private sector, the Bank will continue to work with its partners in both the private and public sectors, as well as in civil society, to help stimulate the strong, private sector–led job creation needed to reduce poverty and build shared prosperity.
Simply reaching our development goals, however, is not enough. To be truly transformational and enduring, the World Bank will pursue these goals in an environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable manner. For example, the two volumes of Turn Down the Heat, published by the Bank in fiscal 2013, illustrate the considerable risks that climate change poses to development gains. A world that is 2°C warmer will face widespread food shortages, unprecedented heat waves, and more intense cyclones, among other extreme events. And the situation could become far worse: In the absence of concerted action now, we may see warming exceed 4°C by the end of this century.
It is because of this threat that the Bank is raising the profile of climate change as a leading development issue. The Bank is currently working with 130 countries to address climate change through lending to both adaptation and mitigation projects.
The World Bank is determined to support our clients in applying evidence-based, country-specific solutions to development challenges. We must listen, learn, and partner with countries and beneficiaries to build bottom-up solutions. In recent years, we have seen tremendous gains. I encourage you to read about many of the Bank-supported achievements throughout this Annual Report and the Results 2013 report, which can also be found on this website.
We live in an exciting time. The challenges of ending extreme poverty and promoting shared prosperity will require sustained determination from all sides. The World Bank Group—its leadership and the talented staff who work here—is committed to making the most of this unprecedented opportunity and helping to bring about the world we all want: one free of poverty, with shared prosperity for all.
Dr. Jim Yong Kim
President of the World Bank Group and
Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors
|Message from the President of the World Bank Group||PDF (68KB)|