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Seizing Opportunity from Crisis: Making Multilateralism Work

2009-03-31, Zoellick, Robert B.

Robert B. Zoellick, President of the World Bank, recalled a moment in John Maynard Keynes life when he called for deeds that restore the public trust that governments are up to the challenge of the current crisis. What started in 2007 as a financial crisis quickly spiraled into an economic crisis, with estimates for 2009 for the first contraction of the global economy since World War II and the largest decline of trade in 80 years. Developing countries are being battered in successive waves as private capital flows slump sharply. These events could next become a social and human crisis, with political implications. Zoellick reviewed the difficulties for each region of the world. Unlike the 1930s, however, central banks have stepped in with creative solutions to keep credit flowing. But the challenge ahead requires a spirit of innovation backed by action. The World Bank Group’s Board is considering a new proposal: the launch of a $50 billion Global Trade Liquidity Program. Zoellick called for the member of the G-20 to make multilateralism work and to empower the WTO, the IMF, and the World Bank Group to monitor national policies. Bringing sunlight to national decision-making would contribute to transparency, accountability, and consistency across national policies. It is time to institutionalize “early warning” systems to protect the poor from cuts in social programs during times of economic crisis. Modern multilateralism will require that rising economic powers have a larger say in how institutions such as the World Bank and the IMF are run.

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Coalitions for Change

1999-09-28, Wolfensohn, James D.

World Bank Group President, James Wolfensohn addressed the Board of Governors. In the past year the Bank launched a new initiative—the Comprehensive Development Framework (CDF). The aim was to bring the social and the structural aspects of development together with the macroeconomic and the financial so as to establish a much more balanced and effective approach. The Bank will work with the broad development community—the United Nations, the European Union, bilaterals, regional development banks, civil society, and the private sector—to build genuine partnerships. The CDF is now being piloted in 13 countries. The general experience reviewed that strengthening the organization, human capacity, and the structure of the state, both at central and local levels, is the first priority to reduce poverty. The speaker also called for a coalition for change in the new international development architecture in the face of globalization.