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World Bank unveils agenda to end extreme poverty

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The World Bank has unveiled an agenda to end extreme poverty by 2016 and to boost incomes of the poorest 40 per cent of the world’s population.

World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim outlined the new agenda in  a speech at Georgetown University, calling for  for ambitious new goals to help the most vulnerable.

“We are at an auspicious moment in history when the successes of past decades and an increasingly favorable economic outlook combine to give developing countries a chance – for the first time ever – to end extreme poverty within a generation,” Kim said in a speech at Georgetown University. “Our duty now must be to ensure that these favorable circumstances are matched with deliberate decisions to realize this historic opportunity.”

Speaking in advance of the upcoming World Bank/IMF Spring Meetings, Kim observed that developing economies rebounded quickly from the crisis and are now in a fundamentally sound position, thanks to greater macroeconomic stability, a stronger rule of law, and increased investments in human capital and infrastructure.  Productivity growth in the private sector, the source of 90 percent of all jobs, is high.

Kim noted that the first Millennium Development Goal (MDG), to halve extreme poverty, was achieved in 2010, five years ahead of time, after developing countries spent years investing in social safety nets and working hard to build the fiscal space and create the macroeconomic buffers to respond effectively if a crisis hit.

To achieve the more difficult goal of virtually eliminating extreme poverty, Kim described three factors necessary:  First, to reach the goal by 2030 will require an acceleration of the growth rate observed over the past 15 years, and in particular sustained high growth in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.  Second, it will require efforts to enhance inclusiveness and curb inequality, and ensure that growth translates into poverty reduction, most importantly through job creation.  And third, it will require that potential shocks – such as new food, fuel, or financial crises and climatic disasters – be averted or mitigated.

Noting that many global leaders, over many decades, have spoken about ending poverty, Kim recognized that to realize this vision will take a commitment from the entire global development community that matches the scope of the challenge, and he hailed recent calls from global leaders to take action.

“Recently a number of courageous politicians have committed to ending poverty in their countries, including Dilma Rousseff in Brazil and Joyce Banda in Malawi. Similarly, US President Barack Obama and UK Prime Minister David Cameron endorsed the vision of ending extreme poverty globally. These bold calls demand action,” said Kim.

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