Sunday, October 21, 2007

Zoellick Announces New Agenda for the World Bank at the 2007 Annual Meetings

Sources: World Bank chief calls for new direction for lender; Will the Bottom Billion Ever Catch Up?

On October 21, Robert Zoellick propounded a new agenda for the World Bank. The Bank’s new six-point agenda seeks to (1) increase cooperation between the institution and its member states; (2) facilitate greater involvement of the private sector in developed countries in the Bank’s development efforts; (3) develop a more responsive post-conflict adjustment strategy for affected states; (4) continue engagement with middle-income countries by offering services other than loans that are better tailored to their needs; (5) increase expenditures in health-related issues; and (6) consider the effects of the projects undertaken for economic development on the state of the environment.

At the Annual Meetings, Zoellick also asked the Bank's donor countries to raise their commitments for the replenishment of the International Development Association (IDA), which provides concessionary loans to the poorest countries. So far, South Africa—an emerging donor—has agreed to increase its donation to the IDA fund by thirty percent.

One commentator commended Zoellick on his on-going efforts to incorporate the bottom billion (i.e. people living in the poorest countries in the world) into the world economy. However, the commentator criticized Zoellick and others in the international community for concentrating their efforts on decreasing absolute poverty, as that does not necessarily assist in closing the gap for the bottom billion. Consequently, he suggests that development efforts (which include the Bank’s new agenda) need to expand beyond their current focus on aid to include more comprehensive policies in the area of trade, security, and good governance.


Neither Zoellick nor the commentator fixed deadlines for the achievement of their development objectives. Is it desirable to establish a firm time commitment for these proposals? Why or why not?

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