Daw Aung San Suu
Kyi, state counselor of Myanmar and Nobel Peace Prize winner, told
representatives from governments rich and poor at a meeting last week in
Myanmar that reducing poverty and ensuring that everyone benefits from economic
growth calls for a deep focus on addressing the challenges of fragility and
conflict, climate change, gender equality, job creation, and good governance.
Suu Kyi was speaking
at the opening session of a meeting of the International Development Association (IDA),
the World Bank’s fund for the poorest, where donors, borrower representatives
and World Bank Group leadership brainstormed ways to achieve these goals.
She said that Myanmar’s real riches are its people, and they need to be
nurtured in the right way.
The meeting comes
amid a backdrop of extraordinary global challenges, with profound impacts. The
global economy is weakening and growing more volatile. Climate change threatens to
add 100 million people to the ranks of the poor. Growing geopolitical tensions
and conflicts add to the volatility. By 2030, the share of the poor living in
countries affected by fragility and
conflict is expected to triple, from 14% today to nearly half by 2030.
Gender inequality and the
growing disparity in wealth continue to hinder progress. Too many people simply
don’t have opportunities in today’s world. They lack access to a good education
and jobs with stable incomes. Just keeping pace with population growth is a
challenge in developing countries, where 600 million additional jobs will need
to be created in the next 15 years.
Growth and opportunity
need to be underpinned by well-functioning governments that can perform
essential tasks such as protecting their most vulnerable citizens and providing
basic services, including clean water and transportation.
We need a swift, coordinated and effective international response that provides
local solutions to these global challenges. The consequences for the poorest
and most vulnerable are likely to be devastating unless we act in dramatically
IDA is one of the international community’s most powerful tools for addressing
the toughest challenges—the ones that keep us up at night. Challenges like
hunger, a drastically changing climate, conflict and fragility, natural
disasters, deeply entrenched gender bias, lack of clean water, and joblessness.
Since its inception in 1960, IDA has provided $310 billion in financing for
projects in the poorest countries (about half a trillion in today’s dollars).
This financing has yielded extensive
For example, in just five years, we helped more than 400 million people access
health care and helped fund the development and distribution of 78 million
textbooks in Ethiopia.
We helped create 52 million days of work in Afghanistan
over 12 years. From 2010-14, we enabled more than 6 million Pakistanis to gain
access to micro-credit. And in Myanmar, host to
our meeting, 3 million people in 5,000 villages are benefiting from grants that
enable communities to improve basic infrastructure, including schools, health
centers, and village roads.
At our meeting, we’re talking about seriously upping the ante in our ability to
take on these challenges. We’re introducing a groundbreaking proposal for
leveraging IDA's financing framework—representing the most radical
transformation in IDA's 55-year history. The proposal seeks to leverage our
equity by blending donor contributions with funds raised through debt markets,
enabling us to provide clients with billions of dollars in additional
This is the most concrete and significant proposal to date on the Addis Ababa
Action Agenda, in which the global community committed to leverage official aid
and dramatically scale up all channels of development finance. Our proposal
would use and target scarce development resources to ensure real value for
money, providing donor partners with the highest possible return on their
investment in terms of making a difference for the poor and vulnerable. The
extra financing would help us make significant progress towards the Sustainable
Development Goals, building on IDA’s already strong results track record.
This innovative approach still requires the long-term support of our
development partners. Indeed, this is not a time to do less. With the support
of donors and borrowers of all income levels, our financing innovations could
leverage IDA's equity like never before and put the world’s poorest and most
vulnerable more firmly than ever on a path toward sustained and equitable