A New Playbook for Challenging Times
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A New Playbook for Challenging Times
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We are living in an age where chronic instability, civil wars, the global shock of the pandemic, and continued climate disasters have created a complex landscape of intertwined risks, exacerbating fragility. Countries need help to prevent, prepare for, and deal with crises in a way that does not divert them from their development goals. Against this backdrop, the World Bank is evolving to become a better bank to serve the world's most vulnerable people.
In this panel discussion, Anna Bjerde, Managing Director of the World Bank, emphasizes factors that are driving the need for the World Bank to introduce a new playbook on crises response: The growing frequency of crises, the human toll, and the fact that those crises are coming on top of climate change, food insecurity and rising fragility. Bjerde adds that the World Bank is looking at what it could do differently—both operationally and through its financial model—to move quickly when clients face a disaster or a crisis.
Leila Benali, Minister of Energy Transition and Sustainable Development of Morocco and Sosten Gwengwe, Minister of Trade and Industry of Malawi, discuss what their governments are doing to respond to crises. Benali gives an example of how their rural electrification program was useful after the recent earthquake. Gwengwe says climate-fueled crises are here to stay. Hence, the government of Malawi is reforming its disaster management laws to strengthen the capacity of local institutions.
Other speakers, including Catherine Russell, Executive Director of UNICEF; Gwen Hines, Chief Executive Officer of Save the Children UK; and Jordan Schwartz, Executive Vice President of the Inter-American Development Bank discuss their organizations' efforts to tackle crisis situations and partner with the World Bank and others in addressing the needs of vulnerable populations in fragile settings.
Hello. Welcome to the 2023 Annual Meetings of the World Bank Group and IMF. I'm Sandrine Rastello, live from Marrakesh, Morocco. Before we start, I want to acknowledge the devastating earthquake that took place in Morocco last month. At this very difficult time, we are here to stand by Morocco and its people. Over the next hour, we'll be discussing what it will take to navigate a world where chronic instability, the global shock of the Pandemic, and continued climate disasters have created a new landscape of intertwined risks and increased fragility. We'll explore how the international community can step up its effort and work together to overcome these challenges and create a more resilient future. You can share your thoughts on this topic anytime using the hashtag #WBmeetings. And please send us your questions either online at worldbank.org, or in person, using the QR code displayed in front of you. Let's dive right into this conversation. Please join me in welcoming Anna Bjerde, Managing Director for Operations at the World Bank. (audience applauds) Leila Benali, Minister of Energy Transition and Sustainable Development of Morocco. Sosten Gwengwe, Minister of Trade and Industry of Malawi. (audience applauds) Catherine Russell, Executive Director of UNICEF. (audience applauds) Gwen Hines, CEO of Save the Children UK. (audience applauds) And Jordan Schwartz, Executive Vice President at the Inter-American Development Bank. (audience applauds) So, let's start with you Anna, and to talk about this new playbook at the World Bank. This is the World Bank's effort to innovate, to respond to this new landscape I just described, to stay relevant. Can you give us some highlights to explain what's going to change? What's going to be new there?
Thank you so very much and really great to be with you and thank you so much for joining us. And thank you also to the panel. Look, if we just start a bit with the big picture of why are we revising our playbook and introducing a new playbook and why are we having a full panel on crisis response? I think it is because in the last few years we've just experienced that the world is changing. It's one crisis after the other, it's one shock after the other. I think we're seeing three factors that drive us to have to change. The first one is the frequency of these crises and shocks are intensifying. Of course, Morocco experienced this just one month ago with a very devastating earthquake, and Libya very close by, devastating floods. And if you look back just over the last twelve months, you also have major earthquakes, of course, in Turkey, in Syria, and we had also just a few days in Afghanistan. And add to that, of course other events, droughts, floods, cyclones. I visited Malawi with the Minister a few months ago, very, very heavily impacted by Cyclone Freddy. These events just keep on coming. The frequency is there, I think the intensity is huge. We're just seeing a huge impact in terms of human toll, of course, but also, huge impact in terms of cost. Some of the cost and the damages that are being caused by these events is putting such strain on an already incredibly squeezed and pushed and very limited resource base for countries to deal with, coming out of COVID-19, coming out of multiple crises. And then, of course, this is coming on top of so many other vulnerabilities in the world. We have food insecurity at a level we haven't seen before. We have the underlying and everyday pressing impact that we see from climate change. And sadly, we have a situation where conflict around the world is increasing, as its fragility. The World Bank anticipates that by 2030, 60% of extreme poor will be living in fragile, conflict affected countries. This means that our playbook has to change. That's the backdrop. Now, what are we doing to change our playbook? It's got so many different components. You will have heard about it over the last few days, you'll hear about it in the coming days. But it has a very, very important new vision for the World Bank, which is to end poverty on a livable planet. That's really what we're coming out with during these Annual Meetings. This is what's going to drive everything we do. We're doing so many changes to our operating model and our financial model in order to address this. But on the crisis response in and of itself, we're also having to look what can we do differently in order to be able to move quickly when our clients face a disaster, face a crisis. In a nutshell, what we want to do is make sure we have resources available very, very fast. And we're doing that by mobilizing instruments, including new instruments. So, we want to join many others who are designing features now to give a relief on debt repayments. That's a very important feature that we announced during the Paris Summit. Secondly, we want to utilize much more instruments we have where clients can draw down on resources when they need them, they're available. Thirdly, we want to be able to have our clients in their portfolios move money around more quickly. Of course, all of this is response. With that also comes much more focus on being prepared and building resilience.
Thank you for making that link between the context and the response. Minister Benali, just because I have a question on Morocco, but I'm just wondering, what do you feel when you hear this? Is that a useful response to the needs of client countries?
Thank you. I think it was long overdue. When I hear new playbook, I think from our perspective, it's definitely long overdue. And for two reasons. We think that the first thing that the world is suffering from is a crisis of fear before being a crisis of climate and the triple planetary crisis that we are living in, and this crisis of fear is actually hampering exactly what Anna was saying, which is to make capital move fast, and faster between the different stakeholders. If I take for example, the amount of savings that a population like China is taking from its disposable income. Before COVID-19 Chinese people used to save 30% of their disposable income. Today, after COVID-19, they are saving more than 50% of disposable income. And that prevents Anna from moving capital from where it is to where it's needed. That's the first crisis. I think the second crisis that we are also noticing is the crisis of dignity. I think what was unbearable 20 years ago is becoming bearable today. When it comes to tackling poverty, and mind you, with the stickier inflation, poverty is becoming even more adamant. We think, as far as we are concerned, that this new playbook that the World Bank is devising is actually really needed. And the way we've been dealing with it in Morocco, if I take the example of one of our flagship projects like the rural electrification program, which started in the nineties, and from the nineties to today, we went from 18% of electrification to more than 99.9% of electrification in Morocco. And we realized a few years ago, under the enlightened leadership of His Majesty, the King, that one of the things that is missing is that last mile. We will never be able to reach 100% of modern access to modern forms of energy and affordable forms of energy if we don't actually change and use a new playbook in the way we finish our rural electrification programs. We started thinking about how we can replicate projects around mini grids, solar batteries. That's exactly what was really useful after the earthquake that you mentioned, because today, we could deploy in a matter of less than two weeks, solar kits with batteries, and we could electrify those camps, but then later on, the new type of buildings, again, that will be built by respecting the tradition and the environment of the regions that were affected. Al Haouz, for example, but making sure that that population and those children more and more have access to modern forms of energy faster and at low cost. If I do the maths of the kits and the kits that we are deploying for the camps today, we are reaching something like $300 per person to be able to give them access fast to those modern and sustainable forms of energy. That's just one example of how we have been actually crafting the playbook before the World Bank was able to put it on paper.
And we’re in mitigation already, right? Because that's your previous work on mitigation that enabled you to react quickly on electricity.
It's really a long-time experience. I mean, Morocco having had that experience of dealing with crises, I would say since the nineties, and the fact that this acceleration of crises and multiple forms of crises that the world is living in is making different forms of vulnerable populations, including if I take the informal sector. That's one thing that Morocco in its new development model. If you remember, just before COVID-19, His Majesty, the King, put in place a commission of 35 people and I was part of that committee, basically saying that the economic model, the development model, social and economic model of Morocco reached its limits beyond the middle-income trap issue of 3% GDP growth rates. I mean, of course we need to reach more than 6% GDP growth rates, but these are just numbers. The subtlety of the new development model is to say, let's assume that the new norm is to live in a crisis mode every week. We just had one war over the weekend. I think that's a new mindset that totally changes the way the state and governments and local constituents and local governments are now shaping the way they have to not only respond to crises, but also ensure that their populations are resilient to crises.
I was looking at Mr. Gwengwe and I'm curious because we just heard about, Anna was mentioning Cyclone Freddy that hits you, and these examples that Minister Benali was mentioning, how do you relate to that? What are you doing in Malawi to get ready for the next crisis that is bound to happen at some point, the next climate disaster?
[Sosten Alfred Gwengwe]
I think basically if we really need to focus on reality, what's on the ground, I think these crises, especially the climatic ones, are here to stay. Some of us grew up in Malawi just knowing that this is rainy season, this is off season, but these days every rain that comes, comes with a name. We've had the Cyclone Ida, comes with devastation. If there's a next cycle of rains coming in, it comes with a name, Gombe. And then recently they're saying there's going to be Freddy. This never used to be the case before, we just had normal rains for the longest period of time, but now it's cyclone after cyclone and after cyclone. The key challenge, I think, for countries or economies like ours, is the fact that we have no fiscal or even economic buffers to absorb such kind of shocks. Any shock that hits us, then has got a huge impact on the fiscal and then all this agenda of trying to tackle poverty becomes a new challenge, because if we have social cash transfers for example, those are meant to really just support the livelihood as it is. But when we are impacted by this crisis, COVID-19 aside but all these cyclones, then we now need to look at the financing model that we're using if it is responsive enough, because somebody else whose little shelter has been washed away, even if you give them the social cash transfer, the way we are doing it right now doesn't help them to rebuild, it doesn't help them to have more resilience for the next cycle. It is a real challenge for countries or economies like Malawi that we now need to start looking at shock responsive interventions to make sure that we prepare our people for the next cycle of crises going forward. When we were hit by Cyclone Freddy, we were grateful to the Bank because Anna personally visited. Actually, she went to the epicenter of that disaster where the whole entire village was swept away. We lost over 1000 lives and we also lost infrastructure, not less than $600 million, for an economy like Malawi, that's huge. And to put a recovery plan and to rebuild, we need to be resilient ourselves. We're changing our laws in terms of bringing in some disaster risk management laws. We build in that law, the strengthening of institutions, so we get better prepared for the next cycle, and also look at our district councils to see that even at a decentralized level, the response is immediate, the response is faster, the response is more responsive to the needs of that local area. We are decentralizing our crisis response through all this law. But the key challenge, I think, is how to finance interventions in terms of resilient building, in terms of supporting the people in the immediate need once this one hits. I think that's where the Bank needs to come in, in terms of speed of such kind of response. Because sometimes delayed financing is costly. You would have a crisis. We had a corridor crisis a few months ago and we are now almost out of it. But I was talking to our minister responsible for health and saying, the commitment that was done to respond to this is still yet to disburse. And we think we are almost out of that crisis. But I don't know if you understand that kind of thing. The delays in terms of having the finances displaced, the movement of financing is adding to the cost because more lives are lost because, of procedure and processes. By the time the money comes, another crisis has already hit. I'm happy to participate in this conversation.
I will get to talking about that later on the, the better partnership. Thank you, Minister. Catherine, I'm sure these testimonies sound all too familiar for you at UNICEF. You released a report just last week on the number of displacements of children over the past six years. It was 43 million because of climate-related events. How are you adjusting at UNICEF to this new context? What's your new playbook in this one?
Thank you, Sandrine. I think Anna did a very good job of laying out all of the crises that children are facing. From the perspective of UNICEF, we look at everything through a child lens and what kind of impact does this have on the lives of children. When you look at climate, when you look at these endless conflicts that just keep adding up, and public health emergencies, as the minister was mentioning cholera, but certainly COVID-19 and countless others that come together. Right now, we would say that more children are at risk in the world than at any other time in our history. And I think when we look at it, we would say there are about 450 million children who live in areas of conflict. That's devastating for children because conflict, in addition to them being targeted themselves sometimes or inadvertently hurt themselves, it also disrupts all the systems that children rely on. We also estimate that one billion children, so just a little less than half the world's children, live in areas where they are at extreme risk of climate change. The folks here were talking about how devastating climate is. The challenge is that in many countries, they don't have one or the other of these, they have all of these problems at one time. And in addition to that, they are facing challenges with debt and other things that make it very, very difficult for them to respond. The question for us, as an international agency, is how do we respond most effectively? I think what we look at is, when we do our humanitarian response, trying to make sure that we are building in some sustainability and some ability for these countries to develop on their own. Ultimately, we want the countries to have the capacity to deal with these challenges themselves. For us to try to help build up that capacity is a huge challenge. The way we do it and we do it to more and less successful degrees, but really is in partnership with others. I think the Bank plays an incredibly important role here. The regional development banks do as well, civil society. I mean, everyone has to come together, the private sector. We do a lot of programs around the world, but at the end of the day, I think the most important thing for us is to say to a government, think about all of the work you're doing, how it impacts your children. Politicians all the time talk about the future, the future. Well, the future is children, right? And if we don't get children healthy and educated, that is incredibly devastating, not just for that country, but for the region and for the whole world. From UNICEF's perspective, we try to be there before, during, after all these challenges, try to help these countries, but we need the countries at the end of the day to take the mantle of this, and we need to help them to do that.
Thank you, Catherine. She's far. Gwen, when you hear you both work, Catherine, on making a better future for children, but from the perspective of an NGO, I don't know if that means you're more or less nimble than an organization. How is that different? How do you adjust?
Thanks very much. So I think, like everybody, the key thing all of us need to do is stop treating shocks like a surprise. This is the new normal. And whether it's the UK, whether it's in Lebanon, whether it's anywhere in the world, including Morocco, we all need to get used to this. And we need to be also thinking, how do we keep making progress in a time of crisis? Because, as Catherine said, you can't say to a child, “Your life is on hold for the next two years because there's a lot of other things we, the grownups, need to deal with.” That's just not fair and it's also not right, because for a child of ten, two years is one fifth of their lifetime. And we know that when it comes to nutrition, the first thousand days are what really matters. We know that when it comes to education, it's a fantastic investment. Just to give you one example, we're really taking the idea that you can't say any area is too hard, because otherwise, again, you're going to write off huge numbers of children. Back to school is a really big priority for all of us. I have kids, I want them in school. During COVID-19, we know more than a billion children had their learning disrupted. We started at the beginning of COVID-19 not the end, to say, how do we get children back to school and learning? But we've been specifically targeting kids who drop out. We know that girls drop out and often go into marriage and then they don't come back to school. We know that children from poor families drop out because they're put into work and they don't come back to school. Yet these are the children who most need education and most benefit from it. We took everything we'd learned from working with children, street kids, others who dropped out of school, about how do you get them to catch up with learning? We took what we knew about how do you provide cash and other assistance to poor families to make sure we're dealing with the poverty problem. We took what we knew about dealing with child marriage and other child protection issues, and the idea of a case management approach that goes to the household, goes to the community. And we put that together and we worked with the community to say, you want your children back in school, we want the children back in school. How do we bring that integrated approach? And I have to say, we've been working with eight and a half thousand kids across four countries. Somewhere between 90% and 100% of those children are back to school. Now, that's a pilot. We need to take pilots to scale. The world is littered with pilots, very successful ones. And the challenge is, how do we take them to scale? But that kind of integrated approach that says this is not too hard, this is entirely doable if we actually do it and focus on that community level, is something I think all of us need to really get behind.
Thank you. I have another multilateral institution at the other end of the row, hi! One thing we've talked a lot about is climate. I would just like to touch on political risks, sociopolitical risks here, because that's also one of the new risks in these intertwined risks I was talking about in the beginning. What are you doing at the Inter-American Development Bank on that particular aspect? You have Haiti, you have Colombia. Can you give us an idea of how you are adjusting?
Thank you for that and thank you for including Inter-American Development Bank on this important panel. I guess from the perspective of a development partner, certainly a multilateral development bank, political risk manifests itself as social stress or dislocation. And to this point that Gwen was making about crisis is always with us, I guess we can add the social stresses that have come from these sorts of migrations and political dislocation as well. I think what we've learned is now that crisis is always with us, that it's not a fly-in business to respond. And we've become, I think, we the multilaterals in general, maybe Anna can reflect on this, have become much more dependent upon our presence on the ground, much more committed to a kind of long-term presence and relationship building. You had mentioned Colombia, I think referring probably to the Venezuelan migrant situation that has affected much of Latin America, but in particular the bordering communities of Colombia, institutions like the World Bank or the Inter-American Development Bank, we have large numbers of staff on the ground. I know the World Bank has put all of its directors, now, its country directors, in the field permanently. The Inter-American Development Bank has moved even its regional managers into the field and have large offices in these places. And the establishment of relationships with civil society to help implement response to social stress, continuation of basic services, transfers in real time to needy populations and to work with subnational governments is a big part of this as well, it requires that kind of constant presence and the relationship building. I think that's a big part of it. I guess a theme to the panel and a theme maybe to continue to explore over the next half hour is speed, quickness, alacrity, the ability to move quickly and to be able to balance the original objectives and Mission of these institutions, which is long-term development with the kinds of instruments that can respond to crises, since “The world is with us too much, late and soon,” like the poet said.
Thank you. Well, I think what's starting to transpire here and, of course, that's one of our topics, that there will be these initiatives. Everybody's doing something, everybody's reacting, but we know we can do better, and we know partnership. Partnership has been mentioned already several times in the first round. I think let's dive a little more in that. I guess I'll go back to Minister Gwengwe because I want to give you a chance to follow up on your thought. You were saying the Bank could be faster. Let's not just stick to just the Bank, but to all your partners. Maybe, what can they do better?
[Sosten Alfred Gwengwe]
Let me say the focus is on the Bank because they're like the big brother, the trusted partner, so a victim of own success. But allow me to say that the way Malawi has responded to some of its crises has really been so much in close partnership with the Bank. I think there have been the traditional ways of financing these shocks with the banks. The crisis response window has really been very helpful for us. The SECs have also been very helpful for us in responding. I would say that beyond maybe using the SECs and beyond using the crisis response window, we probably need to start looking even at the general IDA resources. Because as you'd know, economies like ours are benefiting a lot from IDA resources. You have a situation where the SEC has its own limitations, the crisis window has its own limitations in terms of quantums and speed of disbursement. But you are sitting on quite a lot of IDA resources in projects that are not moving fast enough. The money is there in your country and then people are suffering, they need some support, but you can't move around because it's not fluid enough in the IDA resources. I think that's where I would be advocating for economies like ours that can we really look at these, because it's embarrassing sometimes for governments to say, “Well, we've got a portfolio and these are the resources that are committed to us, but you can't touch it.” Meanwhile, your people are suffering and they need some sort of support. So, I think that's just one aspect from the Bank. I've put the Bank on the spot because they really have helped Malawi bounce back quicker and better when we had our electricity grid wiped by third, the Kapichira Dam had collapsed during the cyclones, and the Bank did help us to put it back on and we had issues to do with some food shortages and the Bank came in. The Bank has really been very supportive, but we still think a look at the IDA resources would actually help us a little bit more. Talking maybe about general partners as a whole, I think what would help economies like ours most in trying to free some resources to be directed to resilience, to be directed to mitigation would be the issue of debt service suspension for now, if we can't really go for full blown debt cancellation. I'm saying this because it's a shame sometimes that debt service is really like a commitment to past sins. Sins have been committed in the past. You are under obligation to make payments towards those debt services. You can't do anything about that one. But meanwhile, you are faced with current, and they'll continue coming, challenges. But according to our laws, priority is debt servicing before anything else. If we are able to have some fiscal space on this debt issue, then those resources can be rechanneled to some other better ways of interventions and helping our people without really asking for anything more. I would think that this discussion about debt service suspension or debt cancellation should be taken seriously, because otherwise we have no buffer fiscally and whatever hits us really translates into worsening poverty for our people. Meanwhile, the burden on our shoulders to repay the past sins we've committed remains and it's eating too much into the fiscal. And that should really be taken seriously by partners.
Since we're on the theme of money and maybe putting other people on the spot, but not on this panel, but we’ve received some questions from the audience also beforehand. And there's one I think that would be fitting here for you, Minister, and perhaps for Minister Benali as well. It's on the climate crisis and rich countries. So here it is, “The climate crisis, which is by far the worst of the crisis engulfing the world, cannot be addressed without the support of rich countries. Is this happening?” I know it's an ongoing debate, but does either of you want to answer in particular?
[Sosten Alfred Gwengwe]
She can take it.
Thank you. Right, I think while Minister of Finance of Malawi was talking about debt service, and I think we cannot answer this question about climate change and this dichotomy between the rich world on one side and the poorer world on the other side without having serious discussions indeed about debt, because this question of climate, this crisis, is, by nature, cross generational and cross boundaries. We can go around in circles for years, but as long as we don't address this specific question about how we get beyond the traditional toolkit of financing debt versus equity, bond versus equity. That's why I'm really, actually grateful for the Word Bank, because they put in place this new playbook and saying in a very humble way, the traditional toolkit doesn't work anymore. That's exactly what I think Anna is saying. The fact that these pools of finance, and as I said earlier in my introduction, there is a crisis of fear and there is a crisis of dignity. In Morocco we like to be hopeful and put dignity and human in all the strategies that we are doing. So if I take the example of our National Strategy of sustainable development, where climate is a big part, it's actually a bottom-up strategy that is not being crafted between ministries, between myself and our Minister of Finance, but really coming from the population to say, Well, if you want us to go and tap into that pool of international finance, what is it that you need exactly when it comes to your vulnerability? When it comes to climate, for example? Because our tourism sector is affected by climate, our fisheries are affected by climate, et cetera. I think today it's really a matter of understanding that the traditional toolkit doesn't work and we have to do two things at the same time and really take these crises, and I'm sorry to say it this way in a panel where we have… where actually, maybe the theme of the panel was a bit different from what I'm going to say, but crises have to become opportunities. We have to, for those affected populations, ensure that we're not just building back better, like we used to say over the last few years, leaving no one behind. I mean, what does that mean exactly if we still have that crisis of dignity? We think, and I think the Moroccan experience is the best example, is by building forward and instead of telling that child that, “Hey, you have to put your life on hold for ten years,” actually, I'm not even sure that we tell him that. I'm not even sure that he's aware that his life is going to be put on hold for ten years. Why don't we tell that child, “our life is going to be better than before this crisis? Why? Because we are going to, sorry to use the word leapfrog, to better technologies. If I take my small example of rural electrification, you're not going to have access only to solar kits and batteries, but also to digital, so that you as a child can have access to whatever is being taught in your local school, but what the digital world is providing you with and also building forward, making sure that the infrastructure that we are building again is actually much better than the infrastructure that that population wouldn't have access to for years. And why I'm saying that, I'll just call on what our Minister of Finance was saying yesterday in the first panel of this week. It's true that many Global South countries did not default on their debt. However, they have defaulted on the future of their children and they have defaulted on the infrastructure, modern forms of infrastructure that they need to have, including, of course, energy and electricity and digitalization, et cetera.
Very quickly, because I just wanted to follow up, but I have other questions for other panelists.
Where does the private sector fit in there? Is it a valued partner? Is it present enough?” Do you want to take that? No? Yeah, either of you on the private sector part.
Again, I'll just finish by saying what I was saying earlier. We need to get beyond, the private sector is a major part of the equation, and we need to ensure that it's becoming more fluid as we were saying earlier, and the fact that in our investment plans in Morocco, we want actually to move from one third private, two third public, and reverse that to two third private sector, and one third public is actually a key part of the equation. It's not only because we believe that states do not have money to finance infrastructure, it's also because we feel, and we strongly believe that the private sector has a major role to play. But in order to do that, as I said, we need to get beyond the traditional toolkit of financing, of bond versus equity and debt or versus equity in project finance.
Thank you. I have too many choices.
I'll leave the Minister of Finance to finish.
Yeah, very quickly…
[Sosten Alfred Gwengwe]
Maybe just one minute, just to add that I think leveraging on private sector financing is very crucial. When Freddy hit, it hit a month before our national budget and we very quickly reorganized ourselves and introduced what we called a “Freddy levy” to the pump price of fuel. We added a few cents to the pump price of diesel and petrol, and those resources were invested to start rebuilding and supporting the Freddy victims. But then what we saw was quite a number of local banks, the commercial banks, came in and started leveraging on that decision, saying, “You don't have to wait until you collect because that's going to take you another six months to build that fund, the Freddy fund. What if you partner us as a private sector?” We leveraged on that and we worked out a mechanism that really helped us get a little bit more resources and also in a timely fashion because we didn't have to wait until that fund got accumulated. Just to agree with you that I think collaboration between government and private sector in terms of leveraging on some of these financing mechanisms is possible, and it's a way to do under these fiscal constraints. Thank you.
Anna, did you want to add something to that?
No, actually, I think Minister from Morocco has pointed out a very important feature of crisis, which is this crisis of trust. When you have crisis upon crisis and there's a delay in responding, or there's an insufficient response, or we actually don't have the answer to how to respond, of course, trust is eroded. What I've heard from the speakers I think is very interesting because it makes me think about the role of development in crisis management. Minister, electrification became an important tool. When I was in Malawi, we saw some of the impact of the cyclone was actually amplified because of environmental degradation, which reminds us that investment in the environment, in landscapes, is very important because it becomes a buffer. There's a trust building exercise there, but of course, nature is also used for livelihood. Then you say if we're going to protect nature, we have to actually protect livelihoods, then we have to generate incomes and jobs. So, it becomes a development story. When I listened to the deprivation of children, and we were just in a different panel before this one, where a member of Parliament from Tanzania said, “We didn't have a lockdown, but our schools closed, and because we didn't have digital, kids missed out.” How do we make sure we know what kids need in various different environments to be able to not be forgotten or not have their life put on hold when there's a crisis? And Jordan, I think, said, “Look, part of our operating model needs to be on the front line,” which again, I think informs how we need to work to be able to be much more responsive. I'm shaping my thinking a little bit by just listening to this very good discussion. So it's great.
That is helpful. Jordan, precisely I wanted to talk because this trust also is between institutions themselves, right? For a country, it's also better if multilateral banks can work together. And you had an example of that in the Caribbean between the World Bank and the IDB. How did that work? How do you work together in particular regions?
Thank you for that. We did something interesting. We signed a memorandum of understanding. Ajay Banga, the President of the World Bank, and Ilan Goldfajn, president of the IDB recently, and it was a little bit different maybe than the traditional MOUs of great aspiration in general areas of collaboration. It was pretty specific and it had a few component pieces, one of which was working towards greater resilience in the Caribbean together. One of the many regions of the world that are particularly susceptible and suffering from this increasing set of crises. As Gwen had described them before, what used to be the occasional hurricane is now becoming a constant barrage of natural disasters. The first thing… I jotted them down, so forgive me for just trying to use this to structure my thinking a little bit. The first thing in this agreement between the institutions, I think the World Bank and our institution are looking for these kinds of partnerships, subregion by subregion and topic by topic. The first one on the Caribbean resilience was emergency response. The Inter-American Development Bank, just as an example, offers an emergency contingency financing line. The World Bank has catastrophic drawdown operations and emergency recovery loans, and they all have similar purposes and similar functions, but they're structured differently. One of the first things that we're working towards is how we can harmonize these instruments and make sure that they are as responsive and as quick as possible. As the Minister of Finance of Malawi reminds us, it’s actually kind of the first business in response, but having relatively small countries that are suffering with institutional capacity, two, three, four multilateral development banks in front of them was some of the only instruments for a response. If each instrument looks different and feels different, and the contractual requirements are different, the way in which they are explained publicly, including to the constituents of the governments, is different. It's much harder for them to be implemented quickly. That's kind of the first component. The second is, again, a reflection of the point raised by the ministers, is being able to provide a pause in debt repayment after a disaster and looking at how we can harmonize the way in which we approach that,
I think is really important. We have, I think, a difficult task ahead of us, but one that's really important that we'll put under this initiative with the World Bank, which is to move towards a common definition of vulnerability so our client countries can reach out for concessional financing under similar conditions from the wider family of multilaterals and development finance partners, especially countries like in the Caribbean that are defined as middle income because we look largely or purely at the average income without looking at the vulnerability as defined in other ways, such as vulnerability to natural disasters, and recognize that part of this push, as recognized in the evolution framework of the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank's institutional strategy is how do we address global public goods? We need to think about vulnerability differently and define it very specifically and help these countries to get access to concessional finance when they need it, based on this kind of updated definition of vulnerability. The last piece to that, I think, is investing in resilience. And being able to invest in resilience means probably common across multilateral development bank and government, all of government understanding of what are the investment priorities so that they can be more able to adapt and to resist and to be resilient against the natural disasters that are every day more and more with us.
Thank you. Thank you, Jordan. Before I bring it back to Anna for the end, and maybe her response to all this, I just wanted to see with Catherine… sorry, and Gwen about… we're in a bit of a 360 evaluation of the Bank here and not evaluation, but what can it do better? Gwen perhaps first, how can the Bank, other institutions you work with make you more effective at your job?
I was struck by what the Minister was saying about choices that these countries have to make sometimes, and we see that all the time. Do they invest in education? We're constantly pushing countries to invest more in education. Do they invest in health care or do they service their debts? That is a horrible choice for these governments to have to make. I just cannot say that enough. It is an unfair choice. I understand that there are many different holders of the debt and it's challenging. It's not an easy thing to get resolved. But I do think, as an international community, and the Bank probably needs to lead this discussion, we need to figure out what to do about that because it's inconceivable to see how they can really move ahead. As I said at the outset, we need governments to be strong and to have capacity. If they can't build that capacity, and if they can't do the work for their societies themselves, ultimately, it's going to be a challenge for everyone who lives in that country. We have to somehow help them to do that. I think that the Bank, we do a lot of work together, fantastic work in Yemen, South Sudan, Afghanistan, very difficult places, places that are so fragile, really on the verge, constantly of falling apart, and we're able to work together and do really important work. But I think at the end of the day, these fragile contexts, hopefully through trying to work through some development, we can get them on better footing. That's what we ultimately need to do and we need to do it together. The Bank and the regional banks play a critical, critical role in that. I think they are doing a good job on that, I have to say, I just think the needs are so extraordinary. When we talk about the billions of children really who need assistance, we still live in a world where children starve to death. That is morally unacceptable, that should not happen. There are plenty of resources in the world to make sure that doesn't happen, but just trying to get them in the right place is the challenge. But I think the Bank plays a critical role in helping these countries do better and we try to be right there with them to do the work.
Gwen, what about from your perspective?
Sure, so I really like what the Moroccan minister said about we have to still have a positive vision of the future. We talk in Save the Children about powering the possible. If you just think about there is so much opportunity, there are so many things which can be done. Yes, there are crises, but when I say stop treating them as a surprise, what I mean is so that we bake that in and we can deal with them quicker, better and move on to still build that better future. To give a couple of practical examples for the World Bank, since we're here at the Annual Meetings, the first one is to think much more about layered finance. If you think about a country like Somalia, which is going to get hit all the time by lots of shocks, is incredibly vulnerable to the climate crisis as well as conflict, as well as other things. Let's put in place investments in community resilience, let's put in place shock sensitive social protection, which provides that safety net in the way the Finance Minister was saying in Malawi, but the amounts increase when crises hit. Let's put in place pre-agreed emergency funding, let's underpin all of that through risk insurance, which also incentivizes action on prevention, which is really important. Now, you might say all of that exists. Well, it does to some level. It exists across different bits of the international system, but it's not joined up, it's not coherent. Just to say that as Save the Children, one of the most powerful things we've done in the last two years, and the reason I'm really excited by this, amongst our huge organization, we take a lot of money from lots of people who are government donors, multilaterals, and we're really proud to be partners, but the most powerful funding we have is the money we get from members of the public. We have a Poor Children's Emergency fund, and that means on day one, we can react. Over the weekend, we put a million dollars straight into the response in Gaza, in Pakistan, in the earthquakes, in Turkey, Syria. We need to be able to respond really, really quickly. We're moving even further to say, how do we do it based on forecasts? We know El Niño is going to make things much, much worse. We're now working in different countries to say, we can forecast what the weather is going to do to harvest, what it's going to mean in terms of floods months from now. How do we actually put the money in the community now to begin that response? Very much, as the minister says in Malawi, get even further, not even day one, but ahead of the crisis.
Thank you, Gwen. Back to you, Anna, from where we're all started. I'd love to get some of your takeaway from this discussion and perhaps an example of the new playbook, how it would look like concretely on the ground.
Yeah. This is a really fabulous discussion and I'm reminded again of when I visited Malawi and we talked about the budget, and how the budget is essentially preoccupied with two categories of expenditure, debt service and disaster response. Debt service is sort of predictable, disaster response is not. But once you've accounted for those two, there's usually not much left over. I think this is a powerful example of why our playbook today needs to be so different, because we need to be able, as the minister also says, to be able to say you actually have a stock of resources already in the project. If some of those projects are less pressing than others, let's move those resources around. When we design new programs with you, let's build in contingencies so that when the day comes and you look at your budget and say, “I have these obligations that I don't want to always squeeze my development part, my investment in human capital, my investment in infrastructure.” You need to have contingencies that we need to be able to provide, and we need to be able to step up and provide it fast. I think the change in the playbook is, as Gwen very well said, let's stop treating it as a surprise and let's start planning for it. And today we have treated it as a shock, a crisis. What we want to do going forward is treat it as a part and parcel of our planning in the programs that we do. I think that's a major shift in our playbook. I think the other major shift, listening to this conversation, and also building on what Jordan said about partnerships, nobody can do it alone. The needs are too big, the challenges are too big. How do we partner? We have so many good examples. Of course, client partnerships are, at the end of the day, what drives us. We start with the client engagement model and we back out of there to see what partnerships do we need to deliver? We take into account the ever emerging and pressing needs at the global level. But I think it's very important if we want to go to scale, we need to be able to work together. And we cannot do it one by one. We need to harmonize our standards, we need to harmonize our procedures, because it does take a long time to work with us independently. But if we can together come and say, this is what it takes to work with the five of us, and it's one set of standards, that will help a lot. This is a pivotal time for all of us. For all of us who work in development banks, we need to just think differently. We need to think in a very open manner, we need to think in a very creative manner, and we need to really invite people in rather than to say, we have this, this is how we work. It's a whole different mindset, I would say.
Actually, there was a question from the audience that I think you can probably answer very quickly, because it's on the playbook that says, “Will the new playbook be better positioned to help resuscitate Africans economically stressed by the economies that are more stressed by the effect of COVID-19 and global economic shocks?”
Well, yes, absolutely, in a number of ways I would say. First, our response time is going to get better, much better. Secondly, we're introducing something called Global Challenge programs. One is dedicated actually to pre-COVID-19 stresses, including on food security and nutrition, including health preparedness from Pandemics. And we have a huge focus on human development, so health and education will continue to be such a big push. We're also going out raising resources for IDA. IDA is so important for countries in Africa. We have front loaded because the needs have been so big. Now we're running out of money in IDA. We have a crisis response facility that needs to be funded, and we have an IDA 21 that needs to be funded. We need to step up our resources in a massive way while leveraging partnerships, while leveraging the private sector. I should add to that, new types of stakeholders, like foundations that are interested in coming in and working with us. We're never going to take our eye off the needs in Africa.
Thank you. I have a little challenge for my panel, because we have just a few minutes, but because we've touched on so many things and things emerged during this conversation, would you give me a final message for the audience, short, maybe start with Jordan and come back all the way to here? Final message.
Final message on crisis response?
That you want people to take away after the conversation.
All right, I guess my summary message would be that we have to find a way to convert all of our technical capacity, all of our empathy, into quick response without giving up our broader vision of long-term sustainable development. That is the challenge for us. I think that is embedded in instruments, it's embedded in this question that you'd asked earlier about what is the role of the private sector jointly with the public sector? We need to find a way to incorporate the private sector not only for bespoke individual investments, but for helping to build resilient markets and investment regimes. I think those are the two pieces I'd add.
Thank you. Gwen?
Let's really get serious about partnership. Let's stop arguing about whether the money is humanitarian, development, climate, domestic budgets, just really think about this point of partnership and remember, the partnership starts with the children and their own families and their own communities. We are all here to serve them ultimately, and that's a really good test for all of us every day.
Thank you. Catherine?
I would say two things. One, I think we have to just stay laser focused on building capacity of governments and helping them to do better. And second, Minister, I had a great meeting the other day with some young people from Morocco. And I have to say, in my job I see so many terrible things every day, but when I get to meet young people, I always feel so much better. They were talking about the incredible work they are doing on climate, on child marriage. It was really just an amazing experience for me and it's a good reminder that the future is in the hands of these young people and we need to bring them to the table, not in a symbolic way, but in a real way, and we need for them to be part of the solution.
Thank you. Minister Gwengwe?
[Sosten Alfred Gwengwe]
Thank you. So meet the Bank in the flexibility in the rules book. I know it's possible because for the longest period of time in Malawi with the Bank, we've been doing what we used to call Malawi Social Action Program, MASAF or MASAP. But from last year we experimented the same thing, but tweaked in a different way to now look at climate smart public works, which essentially is the same thing, except now the focus is as we're giving you these resources to support you at a household level, you need to be able to demonstrate that you can also do some work that will help in conserving maybe the catchment areas of your rivers and stuff. The wakes are now specific on climate interventions and they get some resources. I think flexibility is possible. We just need to look at the playbook and see what can change so that we achieve speed. We also save our people much, much better. Thank you.
I will finish on two things. I will insist on this idea of partnerships and getting serious about partnerships. I would say that as long as we, as governments, public stakeholders, MDBs, multilateral development banks, and charities, we don't believe in the future of humanity, our children and the private sector will not believe in the future of humanity. We really have to ensure that all our work is actually promethean, is that we are trying as much as possible to bring back the trust in the future. When we talk about debt service, let's ensure that we are giving more time to these countries to address their debt service. 40 years, 50 years maybe, because we believe that those countries will still be here in 40 years, in 50 years. I'm reminded of my other hat as President of United Nations Assembly for the Environment, that more than 25% of the UN membership might not exist by the end of this century because of climate change. I think bringing back some hope and bringing back some visibility in the future for our children, for the private sector, for our partners, because we all live in the same planet at the end of the day. The private sector is not a very obscure entity living on a different planet. They also live with us. As long as we provide that visibility and that multigenerational visibility on multiple issues, including debt and project finance, I think we will win the challenge of financing poverty and disaster relief.
Thank you. Anna, a word at the end.
To be honest, we know what we need to do. Let's do it. That's what I'm going to say. (audience applauds)
Let's do it and believe in the future of humanity, give us hope for the future. That brings us to the end of this event. We hope it's been informative and engaging for you. You can watch the replay of this session and other sessions on worldbank.org/annualmeetings. Please continue sharing your comments online with the hashtag #WBmeetings. We'd love to hear from you. Thank you for joining us. Have a good day. (audience applauds)
00:00 Welcome | A New Playbook for Challenging Times
02:10 New playbook at the World Bank
06:17 Responding to the needs of client countries: The case of Morocco
11:47 Malawi: Getting ready to the next crisis
16:25 How UNICEF is adjusting the context of overlapping global crisis
19:32 Save the Children: Perspectives of an NGO
22:27 Sociopolitical risks: Visions from the Inter-American Development Bank
25:53 The role of partnerships for governments: The case of Malawi
30:16 How Morocco and Malawi are addressing the climate crisis
39:49 Joint work between the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank
44:37 What would be the impact of a bigger, better Bank?
49:29 Example of the new World Bank playbook
54:00 Closing remarks
Live Q&A Expert
Hello everyone. Thank you for joining our event, A New Playbook for Challenging Times. I’m Aaliyah Nadirah Madyun, with the World Bank’s communications team, and I will be moderating today’s online conversation.
The event will start shortly, but in the meantime feel free to submit your comments or questions using this live chat.
Moderator: Aaliyah Madyun
They will be addressed by our expert, Ashley Taylor, Economic Adviser, during or after the event, depending on the volume of questions and the time available to answer them.
This event will also be livestreamed on our World Bank YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn accounts in Arabic, French, and Spanish. You can also join the conversation on social media, using the hashtag #WBmeetings.
The discussion today will be centered on how to effectively respond in a world of interconnected crises—conflict, climate change, pandemics, and natural hazards.
While we wait for the event to begin, our experts will start answering some of your questions—some of which were submitted in advance.
Moderator: Aaliyah Madyun
How can partnerships between various actors be leveraged to create a more effective response to today's multifaceted challenges?
Dr Sadiyo Siad
Great question - indeed, no institution alone can address the multiple challenges that countries face. To maximize the impact of the World Bank's new playbook to become a better bank we are deepening partnerships with other organizations. For example, we have already taken concrete steps to deepen collaboration with other development partners, including a groundbreaking partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) - www.worldbank.org/... - and identifying priority areas for even stronger collaboration with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) - www.worldbank.org/...
Expert: Ashley Taylor
The event has now started! You can watch the live stream video on your computer while you continue chatting with us.
Moderator: Aaliyah Madyun
Did you know that by 2030, an estimated 59 percent of the extremely poor will live in fragile and conflict-affected countries?
Moderator: Aaliyah Madyun
How does the World Bank intend to reinforce ownership and build on governance of institutions in FCV countries?
Governance weaknesses tend to be key chronic drivers of fragility, conflict and violence (FCV). Enhancing the quality of governance and public administration capacity can help to reinforce the social contract and strengthen resilience in countries affected by FCV. Strengthening institutions is at the heart of WB prevention and transition efforts.
For more information on how we are committed to supporting core government functions in FCS IDA countries see thedocs.worldbank.org/...
See also the Bank’s FCV strategy: www.worldbank.org/...
Expert: Ashley Taylor
Fifteen of the top twenty-five countries at highest risk of climate-related impacts (ND GAIN index) feature on the World Bank’s list of Fragile and Conflict-affected Situations List.
Moderator: Aaliyah Madyun
As you are hearing from our speakers, there’s a lot of good ideas as to how to respond to the overlapping global crises that we’re experiencing. Our online audience is also sending us interesting comments and questions. Add your voice to the conversation and submit your comments or questions using this live chat.
Moderator: Aaliyah Madyun
Thank you for joining our discussion today on how to effectively respond in a world of interconnected crises—conflict, climate change, pandemics, and natural hazards. Submit your questions to our expert in the live chat.
Moderator: Aaliyah Madyun
How does the World Bank propose to accelerate action on compounding risks, specifically the intersection of disasters (including those that are climate-related) in contexts affected by fragility, conflict, and violence?
The World Bank is responding to the need to evolve to address today’s intertwined and complex global challenges and risks. We are in race against time and this urgency is driving the need for the Bank’s new playbook.
As announced by Ajay Banga at the June Summit for a New Global Financial Pact, the World Bank is enhancing our crisis preparedness and response toolkit to better support all our clients to be more resilient to the increasing incidence of natural disasters, health crises, and other shocks affecting the world, including as they intersect.
This expanded toolkit for crisis preparedness, response, and recovery that includes: (1) pausing debt repayments; (2) redirecting financing; (3) linking crisis preparedness and financing; (4); backstopping development projects with private sector support, and (5) building enhanced catastrophe insurance without debt. www.worldbank.org...
Expert: Ashley Taylor
Our speakers are offering a wealth of ideas from different perspectives on how to respond to crises swiftly and effectively. Add your voice to the conversation and submit your comments and questions using this live chat.
Moderator: Aaliyah Madyun
Are climate crisis a catalyst to existing political instability or there is a direct causal relationship between climate crisis and political instability?
Climate change is a driver of fragility and a threat multiplier. Both in the immediate term and long term, it can aggravate already fragile situations and increase vulnerabilities, exacerbate grievances, and deepen existing fragility. Furthermore, the impacts of climate change fall more disproportionately on the poorest and most vulnerable living in FCV situations. Climate change is also emerging as a potent driver of internal migration.
For more analysis on these dynamics, see, for example:
The World Bank 2018 report Groundswell: Preparing for Internal Climate Migration www.worldbank.org/...
Defueling Conflict: Environment and Natural Resource Management as a Pathway to Peace www.worldbank.org/...(WBG,impacts%20and%20drivers%20of%20FCV.
World Bank Group Strategy for Fragility, Conflict, and Violence 2020-2025 www.worldbank.org/...
Expert: Ashley Taylor
Hello everyone How are you.
Hello Muhammad. Thank you for joining us today!
is there a recording of this conference?
Yes, the recording will be available here: live.worldbank.org/... Note that it will also be available with interpretation in Arabic, French and Spanish (see the language menu at the top right corner of the page.)
The World Bank’s Development Committee paper recognizes the value of engaging with civil society as partners. It emphasizes its commitment to citizen engagement and social accountability. How can the Bank deliver on this commitment?
The World Bank recognises the value of engaging with civil society, particularly in contexts with differentiated conditions of conflict, and of compounding risks and crisis (as the panellists are discussing). While the role of the World Bank is primarily to work on behalf of client governments, many steps have been taken in recent years to ensure effective, transparent and inclusive engagement of civil society. For example, the World Bank’s Environmental and Social Framework (ESF) applies to all projects, and there is a framework specifically for conflict settings. The ESF requires all projects to engage in stakeholder analysis; which typically involves consultation with civil society actors. Similarly, inclusion is embedded across all four pillars of the World Bank FCV Strategy, which includes meaningful citizen engagement and supporting participatory solutions to development challenges.
Moderator: Aaliyah Madyun
Given the increasing frequency of shocks, the evolving role of the World Bank and "Humanitarian" and "Development" actors in protracted crises, and the imperative to support vulnerable populations in fragile and conflict settings, how can the international community, including the World Bank, collaborate more effectively to ensure that social protection measures are not only integrated into, but also prioritized within the emerging strategies and playbooks for crisis response and recovery? What specific actions and partnerships can be fostered to make social protection a central component of resilience-building in these fragile contexts?
Vincent van Halsema
In the face of the multiple challenges and shocks that countries are facing, social protection is indeed central to building resilience and enables a durable escape from poverty. The World Bank is committed to achieving universal social protection and inclusive social policy. To achieve universal social protection adaptive social protection systems are needed, supported by strong social registries and digital delivery mechanisms.
Adaptive social protection programs increase the resilience of households against climate shocks, food insecurity and inflation. They are typically targeted, pro-poor and less expensive than universal subsidies, and can be adjusted to changing needs.
These systems need to be accompanied by access to mobile phones, financial services, and identification systems. The World Bank is working to develop flexible and scalable digital delivery systems and expand enrolment and participation in them.
Expert: Ashley Taylor
Was there a specific time when “crisis” became the new normal? And do you think the New Playbook can help us revert to a time where crisis is occasional?
In recent years, we have seen multiple overlapping crises, which eroded development progress,
resulting in increased poverty and vulnerability, intensified risks, and multiplied needs. These crises are increasingly originating from global challenges, with cross-border effects and consequences that stretch far into the future. The Bank's new playbook responds to this shift in the development landscape, to help countries respond quickly and effectively to the crises that they face, and also to take advantage of the opportunities that are also presented by demographic changes, migration patterns, urbanization, technology, the green transition, and digitalization, for example.
Expert: Ashley Taylor
is the playbook available online?
Thank you for joining our discussion Shah. Please follow the link to learn more about the Playbook: www.worldbank.org/...
Moderator: Aaliyah Madyun
Thank you very much for the wonderful session!
That concludes the discussion. Thank you to all who tuned in! Check back soon for a recording of the event, which will be made available on this page. See you next time!
Moderator: Aaliyah Madyun