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The Bank and Development — A Personal Assessment
In an hour-long, online Speak Out session on the eve of his retirement from the Bank, Mr. Wolfensohn responded to questions from around the world on subjects such as debt relief, his most significant accomplishments, the future of development, global security, the Bank's role in Africa, the battle against corruption, how to engage youth, and other issues.
A New Challenge
On his appointment to the post of Special Envoy for Gaza Disengagement, which he will assume following his retirement from the Bank May 31, Mr. Wolfensohn said he was deeply honored and expressed his belief that, "there is no more important issue for global peace than an equitable and secure solution to this problem."
In his 20th press conference, Mr. Wolfensohn briefed the media, reviewed the situation of the Bank as a development institution, and reflected on his 10 years as President.
Decade of Roma Inclusion
In Sofia, Mr. Wolfensohn helped launch the Decade of Roma Inclusion, 2005-15, during which governments in eight Central and Southeast European countries, and the international community, will work to reduce social exclusion and improve the economic and educational situations of the Roma, or "Gypsies," who number from 7 to 9 million people across the region.
Response to Tsunami Disasters
Following the December 26, 2004 earthquake and destructive tsunami in Asia, Mr. Wolffensohn marshalled the Banks resources, spoke to leaders of the region on recovery and reconstruction plans and visited affected areas in the Sumatran province of Aceh, the Hambantota district of Sri Lanka, and the Meemu Atol of the Maldives.
WB/IMF Annual Meetings
The Meetings, in Washington, celebrated the 60th anniversary of the Bretton Woods institutions and called for a recommitment to development goals. In his presentation to the delegates titled "Securing the 21st Century," Mr. Wolfensohn called on the world to view poverty eradication as the key to long-term security and stability everywhere
Sarajevo Youth Conference
Second Youth, Development and Peace Conference, where the Bank and other international development organizations commit to an enhanced dialogue and interaction with young people and their representatives, and to work with them to address critical issues facing this large and important segment of the global population.
Global Conference on Poverty Reduction held in Shanghai, China, brings development community together to discuss actions to accelerate progress on the development agenda.
WB/IMF Spring Meetings
The Spring Meetings held at the Bank's Washington Offices kept the focus firmly on the development agenda and the fight against global poverty.
Managing for Development Results
The Second International Roundtable on Managing for Development Results took place in Marrakech, Morocco. The event was sponsored by the five multilateral development banks - the African Development Bank, Asian Development Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank - in collaboration with the Development Assistance Committee of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.
WB/IMF Annual Meetings
The Annual Meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund were held in Dubai. Mr. Wolfensohn delivered an impassioned speech calling for "a new global balance" in support of development and peace.
WB/IMF Spring Meetings
At the IMF/World Bank Spring Meetings, the Development Committee reviews progress on the Millennium Development Goals and the question of increased participation in Bank governance. While its president says that the Bank stands ready to help in Iraq if called upon, he urges that attention remain focused on the "other war, the war against poverty."
Cutting the Red Tape
Officials from donor and recipient countries met in Rome for a High-Level forum on Harmonization on streamlining the policies and procedures that guide delivery of aid worldwide. Mr. Wolfensohn told the delegates: "Those of us in the development community must take off the national and institutional flags that are often attached to projects…If, as a global donor community, we can get our act together, we will better serve those people in the poor countries who now want to lead their own development efforts."
A Better World Is Possible
On the occasion of the third World Social Forum in Porte Alegre, Brazil, newspaper carried an op-ed by Mr. Wolfensohn. "There is no doubt in my mind that we have civil society advocacy to thank for progress on debt relief and on the environment, and for the better implementation of Bank projects," he wrote.
Mr. Wolfensohn traveled to Latin America and had one of the first high-level meetings with Brazilian President-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
Annual Meetings 2002
Addressing the 2002 Annual Meetings of the IMF/World Bank, Mr. Wolfensohn called on rich countries to improve donor coordination, unite aid, and agree to a fixed timetable for the elimination of agricultural subsidies. He pointed to the need for urgent action on education, AIDS and clean water "as the first test of our commitment to partnering for results."
Mr. Wolfensohn toured central Africa visiting, in particular, countries emerging from conflict, including the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda.
Development's Best Buy
The World Bank announces that 23 countries will be invited to join the Education for All Fast Track.
Better Measuring, Monitoring, and Managing
The World Bank co-hosted an international roundtable on "Better Measuring, Monitoring, and Managing for Development Results" along with the four regional multilateral development banks and the Development Assistance Committee of the OECD.
From Pledges to Results
Addressing a forum hosted by the Washington-based NGO umbrella group InterAction, Mr. Wolfensohn called on G8 leaders to earmark for Africa more than half of new aid promised at the UN Financing for Development Conference, in March.
Disability in the Mainstream
The World Bank appoints its first Advisor on Disability and Development.
Translating Monterrey into results
At the Spring Development Committee meeting, Mr. Wolfensohn outlined a seven-point action plan for translating the Monterrey discussions into results to assist developing countries.
Financing for development
At the Monterrey Conference on Financing for Development, Mr. Wolfensohn said that reaching the Millennium Development Goals will require another $40-60 billion in resources. For more on the speech, see World Bank President Calls for Global Partnership Against Poverty.
Partnerships for peace
In a speech at the Woodrow Wilson Center, Mr. Wolfensohn called on rich countries to double foreign aid to developing countries and tear down trade barriers that harm the world's poorest workers.
The World Bank estimated that financing the successful achievement of the Millennium Development Goals could cost in the range of $US40-$60 billion a year in additional aid for the next decade and a half.
At a Tokyo conference on Afghanistans reconstruction, Mr. Wolfensohn proposed $500 million in assistance.
Formulating poverty reduction strategies
Mr. Wolfensohn opened a World Bank and IMF conference on poverty reduction strategies, attended by more than 200 participants form developing countries, donor agencies, and civil society groups, all charged with finding ways to improve efforts to reduce poverty.
All nations part of the same world
At a ceremony of the National Insititute of Social Sciences, Mr. Wolfensohn described a world in which all nations are interrelated.
Reducing agricultural subsidies
With Commonwealth Secretary-General Don McKinnon, Mr. Wolfensohn called for a eduction in agricultural subsidies in the developed world. "We will not have real progress in development as long as workers in poor countries face tariffs twice as high as workers in rich countries."
The World Bank joined with WHO and other partners to launch the Global Plan to Stop TB, appealing to governments to increase their funding for it.
Joining with the UN to achieve the MDGs
Mr. Wolfensohn announced that the World Bank would join the UN as a full partner in implementing the Millennium Development Goals. "Reaching the goals will require action from both rich and developing countries."
New disclosure policy
The Bank's Board approved revisions to the Bank's policy on information disclosure, bringing greater transparency and accountability to the Bank's support for the development process.
State-of-the-art distance education
The Australian government and the World Bank announced a $750 million partnership to combat poverty with state-of-the-art distance education.
Global Development Network now independent
Mr. Wolfensohn announced that the Network, started as a Bank initiative, was now an independent body, supporting the generation and sharing of knowledge for development.
Pushing for a Development Round
Meeting with the chief trade negotiators for the European Union and United States, Mr. Wolfensohn urged that the next round of global trade talks be a Development Round. "Too many countries have been left out."
Opening developed country markets
In a speech to the UN Economic and Social Council, Mr. Wolfensohn called on G7 leaders to open their markets to developing country products.
Broadening corporate responsibility
Me. Wolfensohn called on business leaders to expand their notions of corporate responsibility beyond earnings to encompass obligations to society, especially in developing countries.
Turning the tide against AIDS
Mr. Wolfensohn appealed to government and business leaders, charitable foundations, and other groups to mobilize political and financial support behind a global action plan to fight the spread of AIDS.
Addressing a workshop on e-government in developing countries, Mr. Wolfensohn highlighted the need to narrow the digital divide in the fight against poverty.
Making globalization work for all
At the UN Conference on Least Developed Countries, Mr. Wolfensohn called for a new commitment to make globalization work for all. "It is time to realize that we sink or swim together," he said.
Fighting AIDS in the Caribbean
Mr. Wolfensohn announced World Bank plans to devote up to $150 million to fight AIDS in the Caribbean.
Achieving the Millennium Development Goals
At the German Bundestag, Mr. Wolfensohn called on developed countries to honor their commitment to work toward the MDGs, halving the proportion of people in poverty by 2015, lowering trade barriers, and increasing the financial contributions of rich countries.
Supporting African development efforts
With IMF Managing Director Horst Kohler, Mr. Wolfensohn met with African leaders in four countries to discuss their plans for meeting the continent's challenges and what the Bank and IMF can best do to support their efforts.
Supporting development research
Addressing the Global Development Network conference in Tokyo, Mr. Wolfensohn pledged World Bank support for global development research activities and offered logistical support to the Network.
Building an equitable world
Opening the annual meetings in Prague, Mr. Wolfensohn outlined how the World Bank is responding to globalization and to the information and communication revolution.
Launching the global development learning network
Mr. Wolfensohn electronically launched the Global Development Learning Network, harnessing the latest technology tools to connect distance learning centers in cities across the globe.
Placing education at the core of development
At the World Education Forum, Mr. Wolfensohn announced a fast-track plan to jumpstart governments into providing free basic education for all children by 2015. "No country with a viable and sustainable plan for achieving Education for All will be unable to implement it for lack of external resources.
Poverty reduction strategies and the CDF
Mr. Wolfensohn and IMF Deputy Managing Director Stanley Fischer discussed the concepts behind the Comprehensive Development Framework and how they relate to Poverty Reduction Strategies.
Relieving poor country debt
Mr. Wolfensohn stated that the planned Jubilee 2000 Debt Relief rally in Washington was a welcome call for the need for debt relief for the developing world. "We salute the coalition for helping to bring this critical issue to the world's attention."
Ensuring water for everyone
At the Second World Water Forum, Mr. Wolfensohn pledged the World Bank's support for the new global initiative to ensure everyone has water services for health, food, energy and the environment. He outlined an approach to water management built on participatory institutions and technological and financial innovation.
Building knowledge societies
At the Second Global Knowledge Conference, Mr. Wolfensohn described the importance of the Global Knowledge Partnership for the Bank's work and announced the likely creation of the Development Gateway as a resource for all those working on development.
Stimulating new development thinking
At the Development Marketplace, originated to stimulate new thinking in development practices, the Bank awarded $5 million to support new ideas, in the first-ever global innovation competition to reduce poverty.
Global immunization campaign for children
At the World Economic Forum, Mr. Wolfensohn urged world leaders to participate in the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations.
Adapting the Bank's forest strategy
A report commissioned by Mr. Wolfensohn found that the 1991 forest strategy needs to be adapted to the changing dynamics of the forest sector and the aspirations of developing countries.
Prototype Carbon Fund
In launching the Prototype Carbon Fund, Mr. Wolfensohn said,: "For an institution whose task is to alleviate poverty, we would be negligent if we failed to explore innovative ways of making the Climate Change Convention work."
Waging war on AIDS
Addressing the UN Security Council, Mr. Wolfensohn called for a war on AIDS, asserting that the efforts and resources devoted to the epidemic were grossly inadequate.
With WWF-US president, Mr. Wolfensohn announces new targets for protecting 50 million hectares of highly threatened forest by 2005.
Focusing the WTO on the needs of poor people
At the WTO meetings in Seattle, Mr. Wolfensohn calls for a fair and inclusive round of talks that would benefit the poor.
Solving poverty and financial stability concurrently
At the IMF Conference on Second Generation Reforms, Mr. Wolfensohn emphasized that growth, stability and poverty need to be solved concurrently.
How corruption contributes to poverty
At the International Anti-Corruption in Durban, Mr. Wolfensohn detailed how corruption contributes directly to poverty and spelled out the World Bank's response.
Listening to the poor
A new study, based on consultations with 60,000 poor people in 60 countries, reveals the human side of poverty and builds on the development community's understanding of how the poor view poverty.
Reappointment to second term
Mr. Wolfensohn was unanimously appointed to a second term as World Bank President.
Putting governance at the center of development
From Mr. Wolfensohn's annual meetings speech: "With poverty reduction at the front and center of our agenda, our work at the rockface much be governance, institutions, and capacity."
Broadening development thinking
With the release of the World Development Report, Mr. Wolfensohn highlights the need for development thinking to move beyond simplistic notions of economic growth to embrace a more comprehensive view of people's lives.
Quality of Bank lending improves
Both the quantity and quality of the Bank's lending increased in fiscal 1999.
Focusing on poverty
Mr. Wolfensohn welcomes the G7 debt relief agreement but stresses that poverty is on the increase and that reversing this trend will require a fundamental overhaul in thinking.
Piloting the CDF
The government of Bolivia and the World Bank launched a pilot initiative to implement at new strategy to fight poverty and promote social and economic progress. "The CDF seeks to address the fundamental long-term issues of the structure, scope, and substance of development," said Mr. Wolfensohn.
Shielding the poor in crises
In launching the World Bank's poverty update, Mr. Wolfensohn calls for reshaping our strategies for the future, noting, "Countries that until recently believed they were turning the tide in the fight against poverty are witnessing its reemergence."
Improving living conditions for the urban poor
With Klaus Topfer, the acting executive director of the UN Centre for Human Settlements, Mr. Wolfensohn launched the Cities Alliance, a multidonor partnership to improve the living conditions of the urban poor and to upgrade slums and squatter settlements.
Comprehensive Development Framework
Mr. Wolfensohn and Amartya Sen, writing in the International Herald Tribune, detailed the Comprehensive Development Framework, underpinned by expanding the real freedoms that people enjoy.
Partnerships and knowledge transfers
At the National Policy Association in Washington, Mr. Wolfensohn stressed the importance of partnerships and transfers of knowledge in development. He also described a broader development framework as including an effective legal and judicial system and a social safety net.
Global financial architecture
At the Symposium on Global Finance and Development in Tokyo, Mr. Wolfensohn spoke about the institutional underpinnings for a stable financial architecture: good governance, strong legal and judicial systems, a well-regulated financial system, and an effective social agenda.
Development's human and social aspects
In Seoul, Mr. Wolfensohn detailed how the human and social aspects of development are related to the growth of democratic institutions. He also emphasized corruption, transparency, inclusion, knowledge, and ownership of the development process.
At the Global Forum on Fighting Corruption, Mr. Wolfensohn talked about how the World Bank redefined corruption from a political issue to a social and economic issue.
Moving to a new development framework
Mr. Wolfensohn called for development partners to look beyond individual projects and to adopt a Comprehensive Development Framework to improve the effectiveness of development activities.
At the Reinventing Government Conference, Mr. Wolfensohn spoke of shifts in the World Bank to adopt technology and become a Knowledge Bank, dispensing knowledge and advice.
Emergency aid to Hurricane Mitch victims
Mr. Wolfensohn announceed that the World Bank will greatly increase its aid to Central America to help countries recover from the devastation of Hurricane Mitch.
Educating young people about AIDS
The World Bank joined forces with MTV and UNAIDS to educate youth around the world about the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
New views on development
Speaking in London on the issues facing the development community, Mr. Wolfensohn said that solutions must be based in the social structure and the environmental structure, on partnerships, and with a new way of looking at development issues.
Seeking social justice
Opening the annual meetings, Mr. Wolfensohn warned that financial reforms alone are insufficient, that human needs and social justice must also be sought.
Narrowing knowledge gaps
With the release of the 1999 World Development Report on Knowledge for Development, Mr. Wolfensohn warned against a widening knowledge gap between rich and poor countries.
Protecting the Bank's integrity and independence
Mr. Wolfensohn memo to all staff exhorts them to live up to the highest professional standards, and states that the World Bank would campaign against corruption not just outside the Bank, but inside as well.
Putting poverty and unemployment at the top of the agenda
In meetings with finance ministers in the runup to the G-8 meetings, Mr. Wolfensohn emphasized the need to deal with the social consequences of the Asian crisis, noting the inclusion of social dimensions in World Bank and IMF work in Asia.
Protecting the Amazon forest
The World Bank, the World Wildlife Fund, and the Brazilian government announced a commitment to protect 62 million acres of Amazonian forest.
Faith and development
Mr. Wolfensohn and Archbishop of Canterbury hosted a dialogue with leaders of world faith-based organizations, to see how faith communities and the World Bank might achieve beneficial changes in the fight against poverty.
The World Bank issued a report outlining a strategy for better monitoring, assessment and inclusion of low-income people who benefit from Bank-assisted projects and programs. "This challenge of inclusion —promoting equitable access to economic and social benefits of development regardless of nationality, race or gender—is the key development challenge today," said Mr. Wolfensohn.
Distributing drugs free of charge
The World Bank, SmithKline Beecham, and the WHO announced a cooperative program to distribute drugs to fight elephantiasis free of charge to governments and collaborating organizations. "This will be one of the largest global disease eliminating programs ever," said Mr. Wolfensohn.
Working with African leaders
Mr. Wolfensohn met with leaders from 12 African countries to discuss the issues facing Africa and the ways to deal with them together.
Improving portfolio performance
On release of reports demonstrating improvements in the World Bank's portfolio performance and predicting even more improvements, Mr. Wolfensohn noted, "I am confident that with the new organization structure already in place, management and staff will deliver the results promised in our compact."
Preserving cultural heritage
Mr. Wolfensohn signed an agreement with the J. Paul Getty Trust to sustain the cultural heritage of developing countries.
The World Bank set out priorities for confronting a global epidemic.
Urging businesses and government to fight corruption
Mr. Wolfensohn called on the private sector to be more aggressive in fighting corruption and money laundering.
The challenge of inclusion
At the annual meetings, Mr. Wolfensohn calls for narrowing the gap between rich nations and poor, and for improving governance.
Revitalizing the environmental agenda
At the UN Earth Summit, Mr. Wolfensohn urged revitalizing environmental goals and identified climate change, protecting biodiversity, ozone depletion, desertification and clean water as activities that are central to meeting human needs and reducing poverty.
Protecting the environment
On World Environment Day, Mr. Wolfensohn presented 10 measures for protecting and improving the environment.
Putting people first
Addressing the UNDP, Mr. Wolfensohn spoke of the changing nature of development and of how a bottom-up approach is proving more effective than a top-down approach.
Attracting capital to Africa
Addressing senior executives and African decisionmakers, Mr. Wolfensohn said that Africans must take the lead in solving Africa's problems.
Numbers from the Knowledge Bank
Publication of the new World Development Indicators —-facts, figures and analysis to measure success in poverty alleviation—is prime example of Mr. Wolfensohn's vision of the World Bank as a "knowledge bank" of development knowledge.
The Bank Group's cost-effectiveness
Mr. Wolfensohn memo to staff describes new efforts to reduce overhead, lower the cost of doing business, and shifting resources to frontline operations.
Mr. Wolfensohn's memo to staff describes the three pillars of the Strategic Compact to renew the Bank Group and improve its development effectiveness.
The Knowledge Bank
Mr. Wolfensohn announced that the World Bank will be a knowledge organization and that the institution will revitalize its quality.
Corruption as cancer
Mr. Wolfensohn identifies corruption as a barrier to development and calls for the integration of social, cultural, and institutional issues with development.
Increasing development effectiveness
Mr. Wolfensohn said the World Bank will become stronger, more agile and more effective.
Support to the Palestinian people
Mr. Wolfensohn promised continued strong support for employment-generating projects and to create a favorable legal and incentive environment in the West Bank and Gaza.
Support for debt relief
Mr. Wolfensohn announced a World Bank pledge of $500 million to a special trust fund for the relief of country debt.
Mr. Wolfensohn announced that independent audits of country procurement and project execution would be undertaken for selected projects.
Education for All
Mr. Wolfensohn joined with heads of other agencies to call for continuing effort to fulfill the goals of the 1990 Conference on Education for All.
East Asian challenges
In Singapore, Mr. Wolfensohn emphasized that East Asian countries, despite their remarkable successes, face formidable challenges.
Special initiative for Africa
Mr. Wolfensohn and UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali announced an expanded program of assistance to Sub-Saharan Africa, emphasizing that, "the real answers lie in Africa, with Africans."
Participation in decisionmaking
In launching the Participation Sourcebook, Mr. Wolfensohn announced that the World Bank Group will go beyond traditional cooperation to include participation in decisionmaking by NGOs, the private sector, community groups, women's groups, and the poor and disadvantaged.
Mr. Wolfensohn's memo to all staff emphasizes that the World Bank group is made up of one team, ending the use of higher level and support level as employment designations.
Wiping out riverblindness in Africa
A conference hosted by the World Bank launched the African Program for Onchocerciasis Control, to save millions from the debilitations of riverblindness.
Mr. Wolfensohn called for a new compact between the Bank Group, donors, and recipient countries.
Appointment as President
Mr. Wolfensohn becomes ninth World Bank President.