Global Goals key theme of World Bank’s annual meeting

The Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Lilianne Ploumen, will be in Washington, D.C., from 6 to 8 October to attend the annual meeting of the World Bank. The bank’s role in achieving the Global Goals (SDGs), especially the eradication of extreme poverty worldwide by 2030, will be high on the agenda. ‘It is clear that the bank, with its loans to developing countries, will play an essential role,’ said Ms Ploumen. ‘The question is how exactly.’

Ministers and World Bank governors will discuss the ‘2030 Strategy’ and the recently agreed safeguards to ensure that projects funded by the bank do not harm the living environment of local communities or lead to unacceptable working conditions. ‘The Netherlands has been one of the leading advocates calling for more attention to be paid to this issue. Investments must have a positive impact for broad groups of people,’ Ms Ploumen explained. ‘Otherwise we are putting the cart before the horse.’

Another important issue will be the International Development Association. IDA is the World Bank’s financing channel for granting soft loans to the very poorest countries. Before the bank’s shareholders decide how much they will contribute for the 2017-2020 period, they will first discuss changes to IDA. The Netherlands wants the private sector to play a more prominent role and to give higher priority to investments in fragile states and strengthening the position of women. IDA is one the World Bank’s largest credit channels. In 2015 it granted $19 billion in soft loans. The Netherlands has contributed €652 million for the 2014-2017 period.

The annual meeting will also discuss the refugee crisis. Last year Ms Ploumen argued that middle-income countries such as Jordan and Lebanon should be eligible for soft loans. Both countries have made enormous efforts and incurred huge costs in taking in millions of Syrian refugees. Ms Ploumen’s initiative has since been adopted. Initial loans of $246 million have been granted to strengthen Jordan’s economy and improve reception in the region. Ms Ploumen is now calling for more funds to be granted to low-income countries to help them meet the high cost of hosting refugees.