Annual meetings 2022: development in crisis

The Russian invasion of Ukraine weighed heavily on the minds of policy makers present at the meetings. At the second ministerial roundtable on support for Ukraine, leaders expressed unified support for the country. The World Bank, the European Union and the Ukrainian government released a rapid damage and needs assessment last month that estimated Ukraine’s reconstruction and recovery needs at $349 billion, or one and a half times Ukraine’s GDP before the invasion.

“The more aid Ukraine receives now, the sooner we will end the war with Russia,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said during the session via video.

The war is part of a set of overlapping crises currently affecting the world. This year’s public events allowed policy makers, experts, private sector actors and other stakeholders to share their ideas on some of the main challenges: inclusive growth, food security, education and low carbon and resilient transition. . The conversations have taken on added urgency amid heightened risk of a global recession, the biggest rise in global poverty in decades and a fifth wave of debt that could lead to crises in developing countries.

The Inclusive Growth event highlighted the need for policymakers to prepare now for tougher financial conditions and the importance of policy reform, innovation and investment in people to achieve this. shared prosperity.

“We have to hold ourselves to a standard, not of whether we are doing good things and more good things than before, but whether we are doing enough good things in relation to the huge global challenge and the huge global opportunity,” said Lawrence Summers, former US Treasury Secretary and President Emeritus of Harvard University, at the event. Summers is also a former chief economist of the World Bank.

Another high profile event, the cost of the food and energy crises, examined how countries can cope with food and energy shocks, which have been exacerbated by the Russian invasion of Ukraine and have the greatest impact on the poor. A key takeaway from the session: policymakers must avoid export restrictions, protect vulnerable communities, and continue to focus on the transition to clean energy and resilient food systems.

Malpass told the G20 finance and agriculture ministers meeting on Tuesday that food prices are likely to remain at historically high levels through 2024 as the war in Ukraine continues to alter trade patterns, production and consumption. The World Bank has already committed $6.3 billion to its $30 billion Food Security Response Program, which is designed to help farmers increase production, improve nutrition and build food systems. resilient food.

Climate change is another emergency that was in the spotlight at the meetings. An event on Thursday on Financing the Low-Carbon and Resilient Transition looked at ways to simultaneously address climate and development needs while supporting people and communities.

The focus on the weather was consistent throughout the week. Leaders discussed a new Scaling climate action by reducing emissions, or SCALE, fund, which will provide grants to developing countries to achieve verified emission reductions. The fund will be launched next month at COP 27. Malpass told the Coalition of Finance Ministers for Climate Action that the World Bank is also working on coal decommissioning projects, initiatives to reduce methane emissions and a slew of new National Climate and Development Reports (CCDRs). ). On Wednesday, for example, a CCDR for China estimated that the country needed $14-$17 trillion in additional investment for green infrastructure and technology in the energy and transport sectors alone to achieve net emissions. zero by 2060.

While recession fears and growing fragility dominated the headlines, one of the lasting impacts of COVID-19 has been the effect on education. At a time when 70% of children in developing countries are unable to understand simple written text, and older youth find themselves in an inhospitable labor market, the challenges posed by learning losses have been the focus of another event.. Speakers at the session on investing in education agreed on the importance of prioritizing investments to accelerate learning and skills recovery.

In his speech at Stanford, Malpass reviewed the global economic landscape and warned that a dramatic change in fiscal, monetary and regulatory policies since the 2008 financial crisis creates the risk of decades of underinvestment in development.

“The urgency is clear in the daily reports of inflation, climate change, famine, civil protests and violence,” Malpass said. “The World Bank Group is fully committed to these challenges, realistic in its assessments, and eager to work on solutions.”

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