Statement by Liesje Schreinemacher at the Meeting of the Development Committee, Washington DC 14 October 2022

Global insecurity reigns. And it must be met, in all its different forms, with international solidarity – in words and in actions.

Let me start out by expressing my solidarity with the people of Ukraine and by condemning Russia’s illegal and brutal invasion. I commend the Bank, the Government of Ukraine and the European Commission for the job they have done with the Rapid Damage and Needs Assessment. With its inevitable conclusion: it is going to take significant sums of money. I am glad to see the Bank is pulling its weight, mobilizing 13 billion dollars in emergency financing so far, including donor commitments. The Netherlands will do its fair share, as we work towards our common goal: to help the country and its people get through the winter and then build back better.

At the same time, and I want to make that point very clearly today, we must not let one crisis crowd out another. Our lack of progress on the SDGs with the 2030 deadline approaching clearly counts as a crisis.

In tackling that crisis, we must use our limited resources as efficiently as possible – the recommendations of the G20 Capital Adequacy Review will help us here.

But it is not just about managing our resources right, but also about setting the right priorities. Let me briefly touch upon five forms of global insecurity that require our immediate attention.

Firstly, food insecurity. After decreasing for decades, world hunger is on the rise again. We know what needs to be done. More concretely, we need structural reforms to re-energize production and marketing chains. In addition to focusing on irrigation, the Bank should develop a transformative agenda for rainfed agriculture. Because after all, that’s the type of farming many of the poor rely on.  

Secondly, I would like the Bank to act more decisively on energy insecurity or energy poverty – especially in Africa, where 600 million people lack access to electricity. I call on the Bank to scale up investments and to improve access to affordable, reliable and sustainable energy by 2030.

A third source of global insecurity I would like to address here is water – either too much of it or too little. After all, as the UN says, climate change is primarily a water crisis. I look forward to next year’s UN Water Conference hosted by Tajikistan and the Netherlands. So please join us there at the highest level and bring your most ambitious commitments. Together we can turn the tide.

Fourthly, on the global insecurity caused by climate change. Fighting it requires a balanced approach. In that context, I am very glad the Bank has been spending half of its climate co-benefits on adaptation. The world needs more adaptation funding and it needs it now – especially the poorest and most fragile countries. The added value of the Banks’s new Country Climate and Development Reports cannot be denied: they will help the Bank prioritize climate at the country level, the level that matters most.

Finally, let me address the additional horizontal layer of insecurity faced by women everywhere. I look forward to the adoption of an ambitious new World Bank gender strategy next year. Because whatever the disaster, whatever the development crisis, women have it worst. In this context, I want to especially express my solidarity with the girls and women in Iran. At long last, they should get what they rightfully deserve: justice and equality. 

In conclusion, we have our work cut out for us, so let’s get to it.

Thank you.