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The World Bank Group Strategy: A Path to End Poverty


--Speech at George Washington University


World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim


October 1, 2013


President Knapp, Dean Brown, distinguished faculty, students, and guests,


Thank you for hosting me here today. It is a privilege to be with you to talk about the challenges before us in the world – and how the World Bank Group is working to become as effective as possible in improving the lives of the poor and vulnerable.


When we look across the world today and think about the most pressing issues, the ongoing fiscal uncertainty in the United States greatly concerns us. Our hope is that policymakers resolve these issues soon. This uncertainty, combined with other sources of volatility in the global economy, could do great damage to emerging markets and developing countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America that have lifted millions of people out of poverty in recent years.


We also can’t help but focus on the upheaval that is taking place in the Middle East. Syria is now in its 30th month of war and the toll has been horrific. More than 100,000 people have been killed, 4 million people have been displaced and another 2 million Syrians have fled and become refugees in neighboring countries, adding great burdens to Jordan and Lebanon in particular. The fighting continues within Syria, and the impact of broken lives and broken economies only grows by the day.


We should not avert our gaze from the Middle East. The World Bank Group has been playing several roles. At times, we are in the backrooms with diplomats and at others we are on the frontlines with humanitarian aid workers. Always, we are working with governments, or companies, or civil society groups to help build strong and sustainable foundations for development. This supports the livelihoods of millions of people in the Middle East, and billions more around the world, who aspire to good jobs, a good education, and access to quality health care.


A critical part of our work is in countries emerging from conflict, affected by conflict, or stuck in a persistent state of fragility. As we know all too well, when a country remains in a long state of fragility, conflict often erupts. The World Bank Group and the wider global community need to confront the complex institutional and social challenges in these fragile states, because the cost of inaction is high and the reward of well-designed interventions is great. When we have the opportunity to build institutions, infrastructure, and human capacity in fragile states, or when we can put together a deal that brings in desperately needed private sector investment, we must seize it. When we fail to help countries develop in a way that is inclusive or fail to help countries build strong governance, we are all affected by the result, which is often a country engulfed in flames, as is Syria today.


Drivers of conflict


In the Middle East, most of the countries experienced relatively strong growth of 4 to 5 percent a year in the decade before the Arab Spring. Yet serious problems were lurking below the surface. An increasingly educated young middle class was frustrated that the few available jobs were reserved for those with more connections than talent. The private sector operated by earning privileges from the state, leading to a form of crony capitalism that only helped a few, and undermined exports and jobs.


The inequities – and the anger – filtered even to the very young. When a million people poured into Tahrir Square in Cairo in 2011 to protest their government, the children of the protesters held protests of their own in classrooms. They demanded better instruction. This is what happens when prosperity is reserved for a select few. All of those left out feel deeply, the burn of inequity.


The ongoing crises have left many Middle Eastern countries with a triple challenge. First is restoring macroeconomic stability; second is reforming their economies to meet the high expectations of the people who marched in the streets; and third is managing the transition to new constitutions and more open, contested, multiparty elections. These challenges would be daunting for any single country. But they have all come together in one region. That makes it all the more important for the international community to marshal its resources to support those brave women and men who risked their lives to demand the basic human dignity that is their due.


That also makes it important to come to the aid of Jordan and Lebanon today. The World Bank provided $150 million in emergency aid to Jordan just a few months ago, and we just completed a comprehensive economic and social impact assessment of Lebanon that found the country has lost billions of dollars due to the war in Syria.


Lebanon now hosts more than 760,000 Syrian refugees, which could be likened to 56 million refugees entering the United States, 45 million of which would have entered since this January alone. Think of the disruption. Last week, I attended the UN General Assembly meeting of the International Support Group for Lebanon. Donors pledged some funds for the country, but we need to do much more or we risk catastrophe in Lebanon.

黎巴嫩目前接待了超过76万叙利亚难民,按人口比例来说,这相当于美国涌入5600万难民,而且仅仅从今年1月以后来到的就有 4500万人。想想这会带来什么样的混乱。上周,我们出席了联合国大会的黎巴嫩国际援助小组会议。各援助方承诺为黎巴嫩提供一些资金,但我们还需要做得更多,否则黎巴嫩可能会发生巨大的灾难。

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