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Address to the Board of Governors

1980-09-30, McNamara, Robert S.

In his final address to the Board of Directors, President Robert S. McNamara discusses the future role of the Bank during a time in which surging oil prices threaten critical development tasks. He examines four themes: the prospects for economic growth and social advance in oil-importing developing countries; a program of structural adjustment that developing countries, industrialized nations, and OPEC countries can take to maximize growth; the need to accelerate the attack on absolute poverty; and the role the World Bank ought to play in the decade ahead.

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Address to the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, Stockholm, June 8, 1972

1972-06-08, McNamara, Robert S.

Robert S. McNamara, President of the World Bank Group, says the relationship between two fundamental requirements need to be examined: the necessity for economic development; and the preservation of the environment. He outlines the steps the Bank is taking to deal with the ramifications of that relationship and illustrates practical measures that are proving to be both feasible and effective. He suggests the most useful direction for the international development community is to assist in the economic advance of the developing countries while responsibly preserving and enhancing the environment. He points out that the broad statistical evidence is clear that there is dangerously skewed distribution of income both within developing nations, and between the collectively affluent and the collectively indigent nations. He reemphasizes that development cannot succeed unless that massively distorted distribution of income is brought into a reasonable balance. He also suggests that what is needed is the close cooperation of economists and ecologists, of social and physical scientists, of experienced political leaders and development project specialists. He briefs about five essential requirements to assist in preserving and enhancing the environment. First, recognize that economic growth in the developing countries is essential if they are to deal with their human problems. Second, act on the evidence that such growth need not cause unacceptable ecological penalties. Third, assist the developing countries in their choice of a pattern of growth which will yield a combination of high economic gain with low environmental risk. Fourth, provide external support required for that economic advance by moving more rapidly toward meeting the United Nations concessionary aid target and by dismantling and discarding inequitable trade barriers which restrict exports from poorer countries. Fifth, realize that human degradation is the most dangerous pollutant there is. He says that the impetus for this conference is respect for man and his home and that respect can be translated into practical action. The leading edge of that action is to protect man from the one hazard which can injure not only his habitat and his health, but his spirit as well. He concludes that poverty is cruel and senseless, but curable. The task, he urges, is not to create an idyllic environment peopled by the poor, but to create a decent environment peopled by the proud.

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Address to the Board of Governors, Copenhagen, September 21, 1970

1970-09-21, McNamara, Robert S.

Robert S. McNamara, President of the World Bank Group, remarked that 1970 marked the beginning of the second quarter-century of the Bank’s existence, and prefaced the opening of second development decade. He sketched out the plans for maintaining the momentum of the Bank group's accelerated activity, stressed the need for fashioning a more comprehensive strategy for development, and welcomed the publication of the Pearson Commission report.

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Address to the Board of Governors

1968-09-30, McNamara, Robert S.

In his first public speech as President of the World Bank, Robert S. McNamara stressed that the Bank faced the question of what action the Bank, as a development organization, needs to take to overcome the recent mood of frustration and failure among developing countries and donors. He noted that Lester Pearson will lead an independent commission on the state of development aid. In the meantime, McNamara vowed that the Bank can and will act, and it will provide leadership in development planning. He proposed that the Bank Group double lending over the next five years, directed at developing national economies, stimulating growth, and aiding the poorest nations which need the most help. Some of this effort will be funded by a dramatic increase in Bank borrowing. Additionally, he note the need for more international representation among the Bank’s staff to really be an International Bank. He called for changes in resource allocation to geographic areas and economic sectors. Aid to the regions of Latin America and Africa will rise relative to South Asia. He advocated increased focus to Education and Agriculture. He called for new initiatives to control population growth. He proposed three courses of action. First, make it clear to developing countries how the rapid growth of the population slows down their development potential. Second, look for opportunities to fund facilities for its members to carry out their programs of family planning. Third, join forces with others in research programs to determine the methods of the most effective family planning and national administration of population control programs.

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Address to the U. N. Economic and Social Council

1972-10-18, McNamara, Robert S.

Robert S. McNamara, President of the World Bank, reviewed the state of development, and the relationship of economic growth to social equity. First, he summarized recent Bank activities, particularly those which bring the Bank into working relationships with other parts of the U.N. system. Second, he assessed the current state of development in the member countries. Third, he analyzed what he believes to be one of the most critical issues of the entire development process: the relationship of social equity to economic growth. He concluded that the international development community has a grave responsibility to the hundreds of millions of individuals throughout the disadvantaged world for whom these issues are not mere abstractions, but day-to-day realities. He believes, collectively, that touching those lives, and rendering them more livable is possible.

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Address to the U.N. Economic and Social Council, New York, October 28, 1971

1971-10-28, McNamara, Robert S.

Robert S. McNamara, President of the World Bank Group, reports that the Bank is operating at a high level of activity. During the first decade, the developing nations succeeded in adding a substantial increment to their very low levels of material wealth and their average rate of growth was appreciably higher at the end of the decade than it had been at the beginning. He suggests that development is not merely the size of the economy, but the quality of life for each member of society. The pursuit of this objective has deep-reaching implications. It is no longer sufficient to strain simply for growth of output. Development has to be seen as a composite of many factors that come together into an effective relationship. It’s a task of great subtlety and complexity. He says that the problems of population, nutrition and employment need higher priority. He recommends a twofold strategy to address these problems. One, efforts to encourage and assist family planning need to be intensified. Second, development programs need to be reshaped to take into account that population is growing rapidly. He concludes that if the work of the U.N. and Bank makes it possible that fewer children die and fewer parents grieve, that there is less poverty and more hope, that there is less waste and more realization of life’s potential, this will be a better and a more peaceful world.

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Address to the Columbia University Conference on International Economic Development, New York, February 20, 1970

1970-02-20, McNamara, Robert S.

Robert S. McNamara, President of the World Bank Group, discussed the deliberations on the report of the Pearson commission. They preface the second development decade. The report addresses the issues on which a sound, sensible strategy for the seventies must be fashioned. But to be frank, in field after field, we have more questions than answers. To provide a solid foundation for development strategy, the Bank plans an expanded program of country economic missions, including representatives from the UNDP.

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Address to the Board of Governors, September 25, 1972

1972-09-25, McNamara, Robert S.

Robert S. McNamara, President of the World Bank, reported on the Bank’s operations in fiscal year 1972 and reviewed the progress of the Five-Year Program for 1969–73. He assessed the current state of development in member countries and outlined the program for the five years 1974–78. He explored the central issue of the relationship of social equity to economic growth. Given the shortfall in official development assistance, the debt problem, and the procrastination of the developed countries in dismantling discriminatory trade barriers, the Second Development Decade’s 6 percent growth target is not going to be met by many nations. The most persistent poverty is that of the low-income strata, roughly the poorest 40 percent of the total population in all development countries—who are trapped in conditions of deprivation. He argues that an urgent task is to reorient development policies to directly attack the poverty of the most deprived 40 percent of the population. Governments must achieve this without abandoning their goals of overall economic growth. Greater priority is needed to establish growth targets in terms of essential humans needs: nutrition, housing, health, literacy and employment, even at the cost of some reduction in the pace of advance in certain narrow and highly privileged sectors whose benefits accrue to the few.

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Address to the Board of Governors, September 27, 1971

1971-09-27, McNamara, Robert S.

Robert S. McNamara, President of the World Bank Group, remarked that progress has been made in both the qualitative and quantitative aspects of life in the vast majority of developing countries. Development has brought death rates down in those countries, but a corresponding adjustment in the birth rate is not automatic, and to date has been negligible. He focused on the basic problems of development: nutrition, employment, income distribution and trade.

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Address to the Inter-American Press Association, Buenos, Aires, October 18, 1968

1968-10-18, McNamara, Robert S.

Robert S. McNamara, on his first visit to Latin America as President of the World Bank Group, spoke about his concerns about Latin American economies and hopes for increased lending in education and agriculture. He is concerned about the U.S. Congress approving the IDA replenishment. He asked for resolve to achieve: more equitable distribution of the benefits of increased productivity; balanced growth; export diversification; and strengthened regional cooperation. He stated that unrestrained population growth cripples economic growth. He highlighted the necessity for stabilizing the rate of population growth.