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Global Economy, Human Development Goals, Top Spring Meetings Agenda

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April 7, 2008—The Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank open this week amid rising concerns about the impact of the credit crunch on the global economy and uneven progress towards such human development goals as wiping out hunger and malnutrition.

The formal meetings convene April 12 and 13 to discuss the work of the World Bank and IMF—specifically in overcoming poverty in the poorest countries, particularly in Africa. They will also focus on the status of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals at midpoint, growth strategies, and fragile situations and post-conflict states.

The meetings will also take stock of recent economic developments, including sharply higher commodity prices and the challenges and opportunities they pose for low and middle income countries.

Those themes are reflected in the World Bank’s 2008 Global Monitoring Report, released this week prior to the meetings.

In addition, finance ministers and delegations from the Bank and Fund’s 185-member countries may take up issues ranging from Africa development, trade, climate change adaptation, and global financial stability.

A top concern will likely be the impact of high food and energy prices on the world’s poor. World Bank President Robert B. Zoellick is expected to build support for a new plan to combat hunger through a combination of emergency aid and long-term efforts to boost agricultural productivity in developing countries.

The “New Deal for a Global Food Policy” is among a suite of initiatives Zoellick outlined in an April 2 speech to advance development in the face of skyrocketing food and oil prices.

Zoellick also proposed a plan to encourage sovereign wealth funds to invest 1 percent of their US$3 trillion in assets in Africa development and a new approach to help ensure that high energy and commodity prices translate into improvements in the lives of the poor.

Several reports will also be released prior to and during the weekend meeting of the 24-member Development Committee—the body that advises the Bank and Fund on critical development issues and financial resources needed to promote economic development in developing countries.

They include the World Bank’s Global Monitoring Report and World Development Indicators. Both reports focus on progress toward such Millennium Development Goals as poverty reduction, universal education, gender equity, reducing deaths from hunger, malnutrition, and HIV/AIDS.

Finance ministers will also be invited to a “Bali breakfast” Sunday focused on measures to adapt to climate change.

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