In Kuwait: Dina El Naggar
+1 443 554 6136
Kuwait, January 19. 2009—The Arab world can play a bigger role in the response to the global economic crisis and offer greater opportunities for its people, said World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick.
Addressing the Arab Economic and Social Summit held in Kuwait, Zoellick said the World Bank wants to help the Arab world play a bigger global role by partnering with it on development and South-South cooperation, expanding social and economic opportunities for countries within or neighboring the region, and helping with climate change challenges such as desertification and water scarcity.
Zoellick said it was even more important that the Arab world continue to prioritize economic, social, and human development; the alleviation of poverty and illiteracy; protection of the environment; creation of job opportunities and health care. These priorities of the Arab world were well aligned with those of G20 leaders considering a response to the global crisis.
“The Arab World must be part of this global response,” Zoellick told delegates at the High Level Economic Summit which focused on regional economic integration and the impact of the global financial and food crisis on Arab countries. “It is a region that can – and should – play a larger role in the global economy. This is necessary if the Arab World is to offer greater opportunities to its own citizens – especially young people. But it is also necessary if international partners are to make progress on shared challenges, from assisting fragile and post-conflict states, to promoting peace, to addressing climate change.”
Zoellick met with several Arab leaders on the sidelines of the summit to discuss opportunities for economic growth and address a range of development challenges. In his speech, Zoellick noted that many of the challenges that the region faces pre-dated today’s global economic crisis. These testing times call for stepping up country level reforms and regional efforts to cut high levels of unemployment, especially among youth and women, improve education, enhance investments by the private sector, and diversify economies.
Within the context of the Arab World Initiative, the World Bank has been engaged with the Arab League and a number of regional development organizations to advance and exchange knowledge and experiences on a range of development issues. These include education quality, water scarcity, infrastructure investment, trade and private sector development as well as managing food price shocks that accompanied the global food crisis.
“With effective, accountable institutions; strong support for the business environment; world-class education; full participation of women in society and the economy; and sustainable management of scarce water resources, the region is ready to contribute to, as well as benefit from, an inclusive and sustainable globalization,“ said Zoellick.