Opinion: Jim Kim’s World Bank is a setup for the poor
At the World Government Summit in Dubai last week, World Bank President Jim Kim renewed his call for an initiative to “help countries invest more, and more effectively, in their people” through education. More funding for education is a laudable goal, but the bank’s role in such investment won’t deliver on its promises until the bank takes care of its own fundamental problems — its projects, even in the education sector, can still cause harm in violation of bank policy, and its accountability offices are chafing against failed institutional responses to the work of those offices. If these basics are not addressed first, Kim’s central ambition to increase bank financing to end poverty by “crowding in” the private sector to go from “billions to trillions” will be a setup that harms the poor and vulnerable and widens the wealth and equity gap.
Addressing harm caused by bank projects, promoting inclusion of vulnerable groups, and ensuring accountability should be Kim’s most urgent priority. Once these fundamental problems are addressed, the bank can better meet its own objectives and deliver value to the private sector as it too looks to create impact.
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