April 2, 2013 – The president of the World Bank told a Georgetown audience today that he is optimistic that the organization can end extreme poverty in its member countries by 2030.
Dr. Jim Yong Kim, the 12th president of the organization, said the World Bank wants to “seize the opportunity to end extreme poverty” because the goal is “within our grasp,” despite the ambitious deadline.
According to its website, the World Bank’s mission is to make loans that support the reduction of poverty and increase development in fragile and developing countries.
Below 3 Percent
“If countries can achieve this, then absolute poverty will be brought below three percent,” said Kim, speaking in Georgetown's historic Gaston Hall. “Our economists set the goal line here because below three percent the nature of the poverty challenge will change fundamentally in most parts of the world. The focus will shift from broad structural measures to tackling sporadic poverty among specific vulnerable groups.”
To achieve the desired result, he says growth rates must be accelerated – particularly in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa as well as efforts to curb inequality and enhance inclusiveness need to increase.
Global “shocks” such as climate disasters, fuel shortages and financial crises need to be averted or mitigated whenever possible, he said.
“Meeting this 2030 goal will require extraordinary effort,” Kim admitted. “But is there anyone, anywhere, who doubts that the reward will be worth it?"
Georgetown President John J. DeGioia introduced Kim before the speech.
“The World Bank’s mission is an extraordinary one: ‘Working for a World Free of Poverty,” DeGioia said. “This is a bold and hopeful vision for our world, one that carries in it a calling for each one of us. Today we are honored to welcome Dr. Kim and listen to his vision on the work that he and the World Bank are engaged to accomplish this very goal. ...”
Kim served as Dartmouth College’s president from 2009 until he became World Bank president in July 2012.
The one-time World Health Organization’s HIV/AIDS department director added that eradicating extreme poverty would not solve all the problems for the world’s poorest countries and citizens.
Some, he said, must find ways to boost income to the poorest 40 percent in each country.
“Focusing on the bottom 40 percent captures the twin elements of shared prosperity – the imperative of economic growth matched with a strong concern for equity,” Kim said, adding that the World Bank will work in any country where poor people exist, regardless of resources.
Bending Toward Justice
Kim said the World Bank will continue to set goals that better serve the poor and vulnerable.
“If we act today, if we work relentless toward these goals of ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity, we have the opportunity to create a world for our children which is defined not by stark inequities but by soaring opportunities,” he said. “… We can and we must seize the arc of history and bend it toward justice.”
In 1987, Kim co-founded Partners in Health, a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing modern medicine and health care to those most in need while serving as an antidote to despair.
Kim, who holds an undergraduate degree from Brown University and an M.D. and a Ph.D. in anthropology from Harvard University, also has held professorships at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health.