"We can no longer afford to turn our backs on the world's poorest," Wolfensohn says in his remarks. "We are therefore presented today with both a tremendous opportunity and a stark challenge: to rededicate ourselves and our efforts to attacking the scourge of poverty and all its horrifying consequences for the poor and for all of us in our still too divided planet. We must strengthen the PRSP approach, but never forget that these and subsequent efforts must always be based on the aspirations of poor countries and poor people for a more fulfilling future."
The conference follows four regional PRSP forums for Africa, Central Asia and the Caucusus, Central and South America, and East Asia, held in the Fall of 2001, and provides a global forum among a broad spectrum of countries and groups involved in the PRSP process to support poor people in their efforts to live fuller and more secure lives.
The purpose of the conference is to examine the achievements and challenges of the PRSP approach to date and to exchange views among governments, domestic stakeholders, and partners about how the development impact of the approach might be improved. The ideas and proposals generated during the conference, as well as from other contributions, will serve as important inputs to the preparation of a Bank-Fund joint staff review of the PRSP Experience and the IMF staff review of its Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF). These reviews will be submitted to the Executive Directors of the institutions in March 2002 and to members of the International Monetary and Finance Committee and the Development Committee during the 2002 Spring Meetings.
The PRSP approach was adopted in 1999 to help poor countries and their development partners strengthen the impact of their common efforts on poverty reduction. The approach, which centers on country-owned poverty reduction strategies that serve as a framework for development assistance, involved many new challenges for all participants.
If the PRSP approach is to achieve its intended purpose as a means to help poor countries and their development partners strengthen the impact of their common efforts toward poverty reduction, then there needs to be a widely shared understanding about how to carry the approach forward. With this in mind, the Executive Boards requested the World Bank and the IMF undertake a review of the PRSP approach by the end of 2001 which would draw on contributions from member countries, international agencies, other aid providers, and civil society.
The conference is one of the many sources of information for the review, which includes a series of regional workshops, as well as more than 35 detailed studies and written contributions by national authorities, multilateral agencies, NGOs, and by Bank and Fund staff.