BASSETERRE: The World Bank and International Monetary Fund have been told that recent experience in the Caribbean is a reminder that that poverty reduction is even more difficult in societies facing disasters, shocks and crises, whether natural, environmental or economic.
“Poor families suffer the brunt of catastrophe and face the greatest challenges in recovering and rebuilding. Children are especially vulnerable,” Canada’s Minister of Finance Jim Flaherty said, speaking on behalf of Antigua & Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Ireland, Jamaica, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia and St. Vincent & the Grenadines.
In a statement before the Development Committee of the Board of Governors of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, Flaherty said there is an opportunity for the Bank to improve coherence in global efforts to build resilience, and to connect disaster risk management to important work being done on social safety nets and climate change.
He said that priority must be given to practical approaches to encourage implementation of measures to prevent events from becoming disasters, including incentives for implementing appropriate building codes in urban areas. In addition, Flaherty said it is imperative to find creative solutions that can also generate economic opportunity, such as creating natural flood barriers through agro forestry.
“Building resilience also requires effective and coordinated support across the World Bank Group for national economic and fiscal management in countries at risk,” said Flaherty. “We are pleased to be working with the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund on new mechanisms to build economic and fiscal management capacity in the Caribbean as well as in the Deauville Partnership countries in the Middle East and North Africa, where sustained economic growth and open, transparent governance will be critical.”
Flaherty said climate vulnerability is another aspect of resilience that is having a serious effect on developing countries, including small island states, as global climate change is putting gains in the fight against poverty, hunger and disease at risk.
“Canada has committed to a $1.2-billion contribution towards supporting developing countries with their climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts under the Copenhagen Accord,” said Flaherty. “The scale of the challenge surrounding global climate change requires that we continue to find ways to mobilize private capital, including long-term funding from investors seeking commercial returns.”
Flaherty said that earlier this year, Canada partnered with the World Bank Group and other donors to establish AgResults, an innovative public-private development partnership that will offer an incentive for the private sector to pursue new and innovative solutions to food security. Funds will only be spent once the programs have delivered results, such as larger crop yields or more nutritious foods.
While stating that the World Bank was established to lift countries out of poverty, Flaherty said there is evidence to suggest that the world is on the cusp of a breakthrough.
He said that the United Nations Development Program’s 2012 report on the Millennium Development Goals, indicates that success is being achieved: the poverty reduction target has been met, with the number of people living on less than $1.25 per day being cut in half since 1990.
Flaherty said that Canada and its constituents are focused on three themes of critical importance.
“First amongst these is leveraging the private sector to create secure and well-paying jobs – the foundation of any strong economy, developed or developing.
“We are also focused on building resilience and crisis preparedness, an issue of particular importance to many members of this constituency. Looking forward, we will be focusing on ensuring that the World Bank’s fund for the poorest countries has the resources necessary to build upon the momentum of success that has been demonstrated to date,” he said.
Flaherty said the countries that he represents are pleased to see the Bank’s continued attention to the importance of jobs.
“Our collective success in reducing poverty will be measured by the extent to which people can generate their own incomes, provide for their own families, and transform their ideas into the economic ventures of the future.
“At this time of global economic insecurity, it is critical that the most poor and vulnerable around the world see a basis for hope. We need to invest in people, and especially youth, who need stability, education and opportunities to sustain growth in the future. We cannot forget that women are key drivers of change,” said Flaherty.