Letter from Jim Yong Kim, World Bank Group President

Share this page
Share this page

It’s not an exaggeration to say that today’s challenges can seem overwhelming. In our work around the world, we’re facing overlapping crises such as climate change, conflict, pandemics, natural disasters, and forced displacement. We must simultaneously help our client countries address immediate crises, build resilience against challenges on the horizon, and make enduring investments to prepare for an uncertain future.

But even in difficult times, I have never been more optimistic that we can achieve our twin goals: to end extreme poverty by 2030, and to boost shared prosperity among the poorest 40 percent around the world. Across the World Bank Group, we are harnessing new technologies and developing financial innovations to drive progress on the three parts of our strategy to get there: accelerate inclusive, sustainable economic growth; build resilience to shocks and threats; and help our client countries invest in their people.

First, to accelerate inclusive, sustainable economic growth, we need a new vision for financing development — one that helps make the global market system work for everyone and the planet. In a world where achieving the Global Goals will cost trillions every year, but official development assistance is stagnant in the billions, we cannot end poverty without a fundamentally different approach.

With the adoption of the Hamburg Principles in July 2017, the G-20 endorsed an approach that we call the Cascade, which will lead to our goal of Maximizing Finance for Development. The World Bank, IFC, and MIGA are working more closely together to create markets and bring private sector solutions in sectors such as infrastructure, agriculture, telecommunications, renewable energy, and affordable housing. (Read more)

Second, to build resilience to shocks and threats — even as we continue developing climate-smart infrastructure and improving response systems — we need innovative financial tools to help poor countries do what wealthy ones have long done: share the risks of crises with global capital markets. This spring, we saw the first impact of the Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility (PEF) with a rapid grant to support the Ebola response surge in the Democratic Republic of Congo. With this facility — and a similar one we are developing to improve responses to and prevent famine — we are finding new ways to help the poorest countries share risks with financial markets, helping break the cycle of panic and neglect that often occurs with crises.

But resilience must start with the existential threat of climate change. When we returned to Paris in December 2017 to celebrate the two-year anniversary of the Paris Climate Agreement, we put more than a dozen deals on the table to finance significant climate action such as preventing coastal erosion in West Africa and scaling up renewable energy worldwide. It was critical to lead by example, and we announced that after 2019, we will no longer finance upstream oil and gas while helping countries find sustainable ways to achieve their development goals.

Third, to prepare for a future where innovations will only accelerate, we must find new ways to help countries invest more — and more effectively — in their people. The jobs of the future will require specific, complex skills, and human capital will become an increasingly valuable resource. With the Human Capital Project, which we launched this year, we are developing a rigorous and detailed measure of human capital in each country.

At the Annual Meetings in Indonesia in October 2018, we will unveil the Human Capital Index, which will rank countries according to how well they are investing in the human capital of the next generation. The ranking will put the issue squarely in front of heads of state and finance ministers so they can accelerate investments in their people and prepare for the economy of the future.

Around the world, demand continues to rise for financing, expertise, and innovation. The needs are great — but the costs of failure are simply too high. Our shareholders are helping us meet that challenge with their approval of a historic $13 billion capital increase, which will strengthen the World Bank Group’s ability to reduce poverty, address the most critical challenges of our time, and help our client countries — and their people — reach their highest aspirations.

This year, the World Bank Group committed nearly $67 billion in financing, investments, and guarantees.

The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) continues to see strong demand from clients for its services, with commitments rising to $23 billion in fiscal 2018. Meanwhile, the International Development Association (IDA) provided $24 billion to help the poorest countries — the largest year of IDA commitments on record.

This year, we leveraged IDA’s strong capital base and launched the inaugural IDA bond. Investor demand for the $1.5 billion bond reached more than $4 billion. By combining IDA’s traditional donor funding with funds raised in the capital markets, this financial innovation will expand IDA’s ability to support the world’s poorest countries, including efforts to prevent conflict.

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) provided more than $23 billion in financing for private sector development this past year, including $11.7 billion mobilized from investment partners. Of this, nearly $6.8 billion went to IDA countries, and more than $3.7 billion was invested in areas affected by fragility, conflict, and violence.

Marking its 30th year of operation, the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) has become the third leading institution among the MDBs in terms of mobilizing direct private capital to low- and middle-income countries. This year, MIGA issued a record $5.3 billion in political risk insurance and credit enhancement guarantees, helping finance $17.9 billion worth of projects in developing countries. New issuances and gross outstanding exposure — at $21.2 billion this year — almost doubled as compared to fiscal 2013.

We know that the 2018 World Bank Group capital increase was a strong vote of confidence in our staff, who work tirelessly to end poverty around the globe. I am inspired every day by their dedication and their ability to deliver on our ambitious commitments to meet the aspirations of the people we serve.

But we also know that the capital increase represents an enormous challenge to operate more efficiently and effectively, to drive innovation, and to accelerate progress toward a world that is finally free of poverty. In the year ahead, we will step up once again to meet that challenge every day.

 

Jim Yong Kim
World Bank Group President