30th Anniversary Annual Meeting Discusses Ending Poverty in a Generation
On May 15, 2013, more than 180 members and friends joined the Bretton Woods Committee for its 30th Anniversary Annual Meeting - Innovation & Collaboration: Can the IFIs, Business, Government and Society End Poverty in a Generation? - at International Monetary Fund (IMF) headquarters in Washington, DC.
Stability and Growth for Poverty Reduction
During the first segment – moderated by Bretton Woods Committee Co-Chair Jim Wolfensohn – Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the IMF, reflected on the ways in which global stability and economic growth support poverty reduction. Throughout her speech, she emphasized three points: the importance of economic stability, the necessity of growth and equality, and the power of strong fiscal policy. She discussed how economic stability and strong fiscal policies drive poverty reduction and explained the IMF’s effort to help low-income countries in crises. She also stressed the importance of income equality and its crucial contribution to long-term economic growth, “enriching human lives and enabling human potential.” Managing Director Lagarde concluded by reminding participants that strong institutional accountability is the key to economic stability.
Collaborating and Innovating to Improve Development Outcomes
Next, panelists representing the private sector, NGO community, and government discussed the evolving development landscape and how roles, funding models, and partnerships among traditional and new actors are being reshaped. The lively discussion was moderated by Cyril Muller, Vice President of the World Bank, with three distinguished panelists: Carolina Barco, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Columbia; Alexander Cummings, Chief Administrative Officer of The Coca-Cola Company; and Raymond Offenheiser, President of Oxfam America. Speakers commented on the greater appreciation today for how new and traditional actors can utilize their different strengths to work together to reach the most marginalized among society. All agreed on the need for greater harmonization to minimize competition and aid fragmentation and urged the World Bank and other multilateral development banks to play a leading role in fostering open data and collaboration. To improve development outcomes, panelists suggested the need for more progress on “soft innovation,” such as creative models for institution building, further inclusiveness, and stronger inter-organizational cooperation.
Ending Extreme Poverty in a Generation
Following this enthusiastic discussion, Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group, and Jim Wolfensohn discussed achieving the World Bank’s goal to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity by 2030. President Kim stressed throughout the conversation that the Bank’s (and other official development agencies') resources must be invested in a highly strategic manner, and that the Bank must work to marshal the resources and experience of other key actors to realize this ambitious goal. He stressed that the International Finance Cooperation’s work with the private sector is becoming increasingly important and indicated that the World Bank must cooperate effectively with emerging market countries, particularly the so-called BRICs, as their successes will lead to the realization of the World Bank’s goals. President Kim also stressed the need for cooperation with other international organizations, such as the United Nations, and explained how the World Bank has been maintaining a close relationship with them in support of the Millennium Development Goals and to help drive to common development outcomes..
In response to various audience questions, President Kim also touched upon the issue of population growth. He emphasized that gender equality - including education for girls, reproductive health, and women’s access to capital - will bring lower population growth and higher economic growth. He also explained his strong belief that the mandate of the Bank under his tenure is to institutionalize the “science of delivery,” in which Bank staff and their partners successfully execute ambitious development strategies and effectively capture knowledge and experience across projects so as to apply it to other circumstances.
International Priorities for the United States
Next, Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) delivered his first major foreign policy address since becoming Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Citing Martin Luther King’s adage “before you finish eating breakfast, you’ve depended on more than half the world,” Senator Menendez illustrated the interrelated structure of the global economy and the importance of working together. “In this interconnected world, partnerships are more important than ever. We need to strengthen existing relationships and build new alliances” to tackle the root causes of international problems and enhance the economic and national security of the United States, he said. Senator Menendez also emphasized the key role of the Bretton Woods institutions in this process – and the need for continued reforms, noting: “We can either choose to make reforms that accommodate emerging market economies and bring them into the mechanisms and norms we’ve built or risk that they seek to play by their own rules.” He pledged to make international financial institution (IFI) legislation a priority for this year and urged that the Bretton Woods Committee do more to help educate Members of Congress of the important role the IMF and other IFIs play in enhancing U.S. economic prosperity and global financial stability.
Over lunch, Lael Brainard, Under Secretary for International Affairs at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, spoke about the global economic recovery and its effects on the United States. She stressed that today’s global economy is strongly interconnected and that prosperity “must be broadly shared, otherwise [our] prosperity is put at risk.” Outlining the important contributions of the World Bank, IMF, and multilateral development banks to U.S. interests, she emphasized the need for Congress to “safeguard U.S. leadership” in the IMF by approving the 2010 quota agreement. Following her remarks, Jim Kolbe, longstanding Bretton Woods Committee member and Senior Transatlantic Fellow of the German Marshall Fund, moderated a question and answer period, which touched on the importance of Europe’s economic recovery and the importance of cooperation between the U.S. and the IFIs.
Celebrating Thirty Years of Advancing Global Economic Cooperation
Throughout the event, the Committee celebrated important milestones since its founding in 1983. Bill Frenzel, Bretton Woods Committee Co-Chair, and Richard Debs, Chair of the Committee’s International Council, reflected on the ways — both quiet and public — in which the Committee has been both a friend and constructive critic to the IFIs and helped influence the IFI reform debate over the years. They celebrated the Committee’s founding principles and mission – “as relevant today as they were thirty years ago” – and acknowledged that its contributions are a direct reflection of the strength of its membership The Committee also recognized future leaders in international trade, finance, and development by awarding the inaugural Henry Owen Awards to Jonathan Waldroup of American University and Christian Gonzales of Johns Hopkins University SAIS.
The Committee is grateful to the International Monetary Fund for hosting this event, as well as its sponsors their generous support: