April 16, 2002—World Bank President James Wolfensohn has proposed a seven point action plan for translating the revived spirit of international support for development into results for the world's poor.
The Monterrey meeting on Financing for Development last month highlighted a strong consensus on the need to boost development aid and effectiveness, and the challenge now is to implement the agreements reached at that gathering, Wolfensohn said in a statement to the Development Committee, the World Bank's policy-setting body.
"The lessons of the experience of the last decades are clear. First and foremost, to be successful, development has to be country-driven, country-owned and country-specific. Where the primary impetus for change has come from the outside, it has not endured," Wolfensohn said. "Second, while any approach must be tailored to country circumstances, experience shows that there are two fundamental pillars that countries must put in place for sustained poverty reduction: creating a good investment climate—one that encourages the private sector to invest, create jobs, and increase productivity; and empowering and investing in poor people—so that they can contribute to, and participate in, growth."
For the first time in more than two decades, there is now a commitment by the world's rich nations to provide additional aid to the poorest countries striving to meet the Millennium Development Goals, as agreed by the United Nations in September 2000. This new determination to provide is being matched by an emphasis on accountability among developing country governments, which are taking a more prominent role in setting targets and laying out strategies.
To reap the greatest benefit from this fertile international environment, the World Bank President suggested seven areas for swift action:
- Use Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers as anchors for securing fresh donor support.
- Better target new aid commitments, and harmonize donor requirements and procedures.
- Vigorously provide debt relief through the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries initiative.
- Make sure that Doha trade round is a "Development Round."
- Build partnerships that help countries build local institutional capacity.
- Boost the flow of global public goods, particularly in the fight against pandemic diseases.
- Promote better coordination among international institutions, agencies and donors.
Wolfensohn also asked the Development Committee to endorse the World Bank's plan to "fast track" 10 countries – to be selected by June 2002 – for immediate and increased support to help them meet the Education For All goals, which include achieving full enrollment of all primary school aged children by 2015.
The World Bank President also highlighted Bank management's continuing efforts to deliver assistance to member countries more efficiently, and with improved monitoring of results.
The Development Committee will meet in Washington Sunday, April 21 as part of the Spring meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.