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  • 00:00 [UPBEAT MUSIC]
  • 00:29 2021 Spring Meetings day two
  • 00:32 [LIVE: WASHINGTON, DC] and we're live once more from the World Bank group headquarters
  • 00:34 in Washington, DC.
  • 00:36 [SRIMATHI SRIDHAR; WORLD BANK GROUP] I'm Srimathi Sridhar and we're about two minutes away
  • 00:39 from our headline event on debt.
  • 00:41 But before we launch into that, here's my colleague, Paul Blake,
  • 00:43 with a quick look at what you can expect from today's live event
  • 00:46 and how you can get involved.
  • 00:48 [UPBEAT MUSIC]
  • 00:53 The World Bank group IMF meetings are virtual once more
  • 00:57 and while our buildings are relatively empty when compared to past years,
  • 01:00 you, connecting wherever you are,
  • 01:02 have more opportunity than ever to take part.
  • 01:05 For weeks we've been convening and recording in-depth conversations
  • 01:09 with some of the world's leading experts
  • 01:11 on the most urgent development issues of our time.
  • 01:15 Now for these Spring Meetings, we're proud to bring you four events
  • 01:19 that will play out over four days and cover four important themes,
  • 01:23 economic recovery, debt, climate, and vaccines.
  • 01:27 And while the main events are recorded,
  • 01:29 our subject matter experts are standing by live online right now,
  • 01:33 to answer your questions and share your comments.
  • 01:37 Hi I'm Nish Mescher, as each event plays
  • 01:39 my colleagues and I will be answering your questions
  • 01:42 in English, French, Spanish, and Arabic in the live chat at live.worldbank.org.
  • 01:47 And while you're here, please vote in our poll.
  • 01:49 There will be a new question every day.
  • 01:51 And after each event, we'll be back here live
  • 01:54 from our headquarters in Washington, DC.
  • 01:56 And on this socially distant set,
  • 01:58 we'll be putting some of the most popular questions that have come in online
  • 02:02 to senior World Bank Group leaders and experts.
  • 02:05 So what are you waiting for?
  • 02:06 Find all the details and share your perspective, live.worldbank.org.
  • 02:15 [JOIN THE CONVERSATION: #DEBT4DEV] And to have your say in today's event, use the hashtag "debt4dev."
  • 02:19 Now I'll be back here in about an hour's time
  • 02:21 for a live discussion with World Bank Group president David Malpass,
  • 02:24 featuring your questions.
  • 02:25 And I'll also share the results of today's poll and much more.
  • 02:28 I do hope you'll stick around for that.
  • 02:30 [MOMENTS AWAY: RETHINKING DEBT: FINANCING THE FUTURE AMID CRISIS] But now let's jump into today's program,
  • 02:32 Rethinking Debt: Financing the Future Amid Crisis
  • 02:36 hosted by the World Bank Group's Paul Blake.
  • 02:38 [UPBEAT MUSIC]
  • 02:40 [SPRING MEETINGS 2021 VIRTUAL WORLD BANK GROUP INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND]
  • 02:45 [MOUNTING DEBT]
  • 02:48 [RISK TO RECOVERY]
  • 02:52 [NEW SOLUTIONS]
  • 02:58 [RETHINKING DEBT: FINANCING THE FUTURE AMID CRISIS]
  • 03:06 [PAUL BLAKE; WORLD BANK GROUP] Hello everyone, welcome to Washington, DC.
  • 03:09 And welcome to the second day of our Spring Meetings in 2021.
  • 03:12 I'm Paul Blake coming to you from the atrium
  • 03:14 of the World Bank Group headquarters.
  • 03:16 And today the spotlight is on how we can help developing countries
  • 03:20 handle debt financing.
  • 03:22 Now, one year in, COVID-19 has aggravated debt distress
  • 03:25 in the poorest countries,
  • 03:26 and that could hurt their ability to finance their future.
  • 03:29 Reducing debt would allow countries
  • 03:31 to focus resources where they're really needed,
  • 03:33 on building a green, resilient, inclusive recovery.
  • 03:37 So what's the best way to do this?
  • 03:38 And how can governments finance development
  • 03:40 without sinking deeper into debt?
  • 03:42 And what can we learn from the past?
  • 03:44 Now over the next hour, we'll be joined by some top level guests
  • 03:47 and hear from people around the world directly affected by these issues.
  • 03:52 [UPBEAT MUSIC]
  • 03:53 [VIRTUAL SPRING MEETINGS 2021 COMING UP]
  • 03:56 [WHY UNSUSTAINABLE DEBT MATTERS, ZAINAB HARUNA; ONE YOUNG WORLD AMBASSADOR]
  • 04:01 [RETHINKING DEBT: SUSTAINABLE SOLUTIONS FOR INCLUSIVE GROWTH]
  • 04:07 [VERA DAVES DE SOUSA; FINANCE MINISTER, REPUBLIC OF ANGOLA]
  • 04:12 [RETHINKING DEBT: THE PRIVATE SECTOR PERSPECTIVE]
  • 04:15 [JULIE MONACO; MANAGING DIRECTOR, CITI]
  • 04:18 [RETHINKING DEBT: THE IMPACT ON FUTURE GENERATIONS]
  • 04:23 [KEVIN WATKINS; CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, SAVE THE CHILDREN]
  • 04:30 [TOWARD EFFICIENT DEBT REDUCTION]
  • 04:32 [K.Y. AMOAKO; PRESIDENT, AFRICAN CENTER FOR ECONOMIC TRANSFORMATION]
  • 04:35 [CARMEN REINHART; CHIEF ECONOMIST, WORLD BANK GROUP]
  • 04:39 Now before we dive in,
  • 04:40 a reminder that there are lots of ways for you to get involved in this event.
  • 04:44 We're streaming in English, French, Spanish, and Arabic
  • 04:47 [LIVE.WORLDBANK.ORG] on World Bank live and across our social media channels.
  • 04:50 World bank live is also where you'll find our experts
  • 04:53 poised to answer your questions in the live chat.
  • 04:55 And you can also upvote your favorite questions.
  • 04:58 We'll be putting some of those
  • 04:59 to the president of the World Bank Group, David Malpass,
  • 05:01 straight after this event.
  • 05:03 [#DEBT4DEV] So share your comments at any time using the hashtag "debt4dev."
  • 05:07 Before our first discussion, let's take a look at how government debt
  • 05:10 can affect the lives of everyday people for better or for worse.
  • 05:14 Here to explain is One Young World ambassador, Zainab Haruna.
  • 05:17 She's the founder of Decipher Solutions, a youth led social enterprise
  • 05:21 in her home country of Nigeria.
  • 05:26 [ZAINAB HARUNA; ONE YOUNG WORLD AMBASSADOR, FOUNDER, DECIPHER SOLUTIONS] When you or I need to buy a house,
  • 05:28 you might apply for a loan,
  • 05:30 Governments do the same and borrow money from different lenders
  • 05:34 to build roads, schools, and hospitals.
  • 05:37 It adds up to an enormous amount of money,
  • 05:40 but that's not necessarily a bad thing.
  • 05:43 How countries invest and handle their debts
  • 05:46 can determine whether their people thrive or languish.
  • 05:50 Let's look at why that is.
  • 05:53 Meet Emma, a young girl who lives in a rural village.
  • 05:57 Her country is not rich, but the government is investing in its people.
  • 06:02 Her school has got a new computers and hired skill teachers.
  • 06:06 Emma likes coding and discovers her talents for programming games and websites.
  • 06:11 She wins a scholarship and goes to college.
  • 06:14 After the degree in computer science, she gets a loan and starts a business.
  • 06:20 Her company thrives and employs dozens of people.
  • 06:24 What made it possible for Emma to succeed?
  • 06:28 Every step of the way the government invested in the future.
  • 06:32 It supported Emma and others like her with a robust education budget
  • 06:37 that paid for her teachers, technology, and scholarships.
  • 06:41 The country had to borrow from different lenders, but the investment paid off.
  • 06:46 It led to growth, jobs, and prosperity for its people, like Emma.
  • 06:52 It's when a country is burdened with unsustainable levels of debt
  • 06:56 that problems begin.
  • 06:58 Developing countries had a record $55 trillion in debts
  • 07:03 even before COVID-19 hit.
  • 07:05 That sustainability is a growing concern as countries respond to the pandemic,
  • 07:11 struggling with urgent financing needs.
  • 07:13 Now imagine Emma's life again.
  • 07:17 Her country borrows to fund an ambitious agenda,
  • 07:21 taking out loans from private predators and all of us who are eager to lend.
  • 07:25 But interest rates are high
  • 07:27 and the amounts and terms of the loans are not transparent.
  • 07:32 This kicks off a cycle of mounting bills
  • 07:35 with less money to spend on projects, including education.
  • 07:40 Then the pandemic derails the budget.
  • 07:43 Because the country now has a high debt burden,
  • 07:46 norms for regular citizens also come with higher interest rates.
  • 07:50 Emma's school never gets the extra investment in teachers and computers
  • 07:54 and she never learns to code.
  • 07:57 Without a scholarship, she misses the opportunity to attend college.
  • 08:01 She can't take out a loan and never starts a business.
  • 08:04 Emma and her family stay poor.
  • 08:07 It's a story of unfulfilled potential
  • 08:09 that's all too common in many countries around the world.
  • 08:13 When countries can finance the future in a sustainable way
  • 08:17 and invest in their people, everyone wins.
  • 08:21 That's why debt matters for every single one of us.
  • 08:27 [BISHKEK, KYRGYZ REPUBLIC] I am Julie in Bishkek Kyrgyz Republic,
  • 08:30 and you're watching the World Bank Group IMF Spring Meetings.
  • 08:35 Well as Zainab explained, how governments manage debt
  • 08:38 is an issue that affects all of us well into our future.
  • 08:41 Many developing countries were struggling with debt even before COVID-19,
  • 08:46 but the pandemic has made a bad situation worse.
  • 08:49 Low-income countries in particular
  • 08:51 now face debt levels that simply aren't sustainable.
  • 08:54 World Bank Group president David Malpass invited three important thought leaders
  • 08:58 to share their ideas on how to better manage debt crises quickly and efficiently
  • 09:03 to get the world back on track for resilient recovery.
  • 09:06 For the first in this series of flagship conversations on rethinking debt
  • 09:10 he spoke to Angolan finance minister, Vera Daves.
  • 09:13 [RETHINKING DEBT: A CONVERSATION WITH VERA DAVES DE SOUSA]
  • 09:18 [FINANCE MINISTER, REPUBLIC OF ANGOLA]
  • 09:23 Thank you very much, Paul.
  • 09:25 [DAVID MALPASS; PRESIDENT, WORLD BANK GROUP] I'm here with our first guest,
  • 09:27 Minister Daves De Sousa, the finance minister of Angola.
  • 09:33 Vera, very nice to see you.
  • 09:36 Angola has gone through a reprofiling of its debt.
  • 09:39 I wondered if you could describe the impact of debt on the people of Angola.
  • 09:44 Why was the reprofiling important?
  • 09:46 and some of the... how did it go?
  • 09:48 What were some of the challenges?
  • 09:52 [VERA DAVES DE SOUSA; FINANCE MINISTER, REPUBLIC OF ANGOLA] Thank you very much, President Malpass.
  • 09:55 Thank you, David, for this opportunity for being here
  • 09:57 and to share with you and with audience our experience.
  • 10:05 Yes, we were suffering the consequences of the pandemic.
  • 10:13 Of course, we were coming from a starting point that was not easy.
  • 10:18 We were dealing with the recessions for so many years
  • 10:22 and the pandemics just make it worse for the Angolan economy.
  • 10:27 And, as you know, highly dependent on oil,
  • 10:31 so anything that affects the oil sector hits us very, very hard,
  • 10:39 and that reflects on our stock off the debts
  • 10:45 because it reflects on the different indicators.
  • 10:49 The growth, decrease even more our international reserves,
  • 10:56 decrease even more with impact on the exchange rate
  • 11:01 and impact on the debt that is linked to the exchange rate.
  • 11:07 So a set of events put us on a very stressful situation
  • 11:13 that required from our side to work on different fronts
  • 11:22 on the revenue side, on the expenditure side, but also on the debt side.
  • 11:27 We got important assistance from institutions as World Bank and IMF.
  • 11:35 The G20, the DSSI initiative was very useful,
  • 11:40 but also we talk with our main creditors
  • 11:44 to find a solution that enables us to have more breathing space
  • 11:49 on the medium term and to release these financial resources
  • 11:54 to address the social needs on health and on financial support to the families.
  • 12:03 As you know, with your support,
  • 12:06 we had implemented a program to provide financial assistance
  • 12:11 to the families that are more vulnerable.
  • 12:14 So everything that gives us breathing space, that gives us more financing space
  • 12:21 to address the social needs of our population,
  • 12:24 we are doing, and we are doing with your help.
  • 12:30 Thank you, and so the stock of external debt
  • 12:34 went up from some $33 billion to over $50 billion, so it's a sizeable amount.
  • 12:40 I wonder about the interest rate on that and what will happen.
  • 12:44 So you're having some temporary relief now.
  • 12:48 Does that run out and what will be the consequences
  • 12:51 or what's the interest rate that you expect over the coming decade?
  • 12:57 Yes, we can look at the external position and the overall picture of the debt.
  • 13:08 Regarding the external position, we've increased almost $18 billion since 2015.
  • 13:15 But if we look to the, all the debt, we will see that from 2017 to 2020,
  • 13:25 we see a decrease from 88 billion to 68.8 billion.
  • 13:32 So we still have challenges to manage, but we think we are on the right path,
  • 13:40 especially because we are seeing since 2018
  • 13:44 the gross financing needs also decreasing.
  • 13:47 We are being able to pay more expenditures with our tax collection.
  • 13:51 That is good news since 2018, 60% of...
  • 13:57 we see 60% of reductions on our gross financial needs.
  • 14:04 So I think we are on the right track, we did well expanding the tax base.
  • 14:09 We need to keep working on improving the quality of expenditure.
  • 14:15 We need to keep working on building the confidence
  • 14:19 on the macroeconomic indicators, on the commitment of the government,
  • 14:26 with the reforms to make sure
  • 14:30 that the perception of risk of the country decreases.
  • 14:36 That it's important also to decrease the interest rates.
  • 14:40 And we are also intending to continue negotiating with our multilateral partners
  • 14:48 to give privilege on concessional loans,
  • 14:53 to address the financial needs that we still need to address.
  • 14:59 But we really believe that...
  • 15:04 to deal with all these challenges in a sustainable way,
  • 15:11 is to make sure that we diversify our economy,
  • 15:15 that we break our dependency on oil, that we grow in a inclusive manner
  • 15:22 to make sure that we see more jobs coming, we see more tax collection coming,
  • 15:28 and we also increase our ability
  • 15:32 to ask less financing lines even in concessional terms,
  • 15:38 that we are able to collect more money to fund our activities.
  • 15:44 And if that happened, the interest rates we will decrease,
  • 15:48 so that's a medium-term goal, but we need to keep working on that
  • 15:54 to make sure that in the short term with solutions like the common framework
  • 15:59 that will be very useful.
  • 16:03 We can deal with this situation in the short term
  • 16:07 and in the medium term with the economy growing,
  • 16:10 we can be able to get access to more funds
  • 16:15 without increasing our stock, the debt stock.
  • 16:22 Very interesting.
  • 16:24 What a big part of your debt stock is collateralized oil financing.
  • 16:31 But I understood you to say, as you diversify the Angolan economy,
  • 16:36 I imagine it will be important...
  • 16:39 How you can have commercial bank financing for businesses
  • 16:43 via the shorter-term kinds of financing?
  • 16:47 How is that going, your relations with commercial banks?
  • 16:51 Are they staying engaged or is that a challenge as well?
  • 17:01 We feel that they still engage.
  • 17:05 We often receive a lot of proposals to finance specific projects.
  • 17:12 It's our initiative to say come down.
  • 17:18 We want to prioritize,
  • 17:24 to give more importance to the private sector to the direct investment.
  • 17:29 And we want to take off our foot from the accelerator regarding financial lines.
  • 17:36 So yes, we feel that the commercial banks
  • 17:38 are still interested to give financing to Angola,
  • 17:44 but Angola wants to move on with a strategy
  • 17:48 of combining getting funds from the private sector
  • 17:54 to engage with us and participate with us
  • 17:59 on the grow, on exploring the opportunities that we have in our country,
  • 18:05 and to find funds through concessional terms
  • 18:12 that sometimes are not acceptable to commercial banks.
  • 18:17 So it's a process that in somehow it's painful
  • 18:24 because it's a different mindset and a different strategy
  • 18:31 that some of our partners start understanding,
  • 18:39 but at the beginning it was not easy to negotiate on those terms,
  • 18:45 but we still committed with that.
  • 18:47 We still committed with the private investment.
  • 18:49 We still committed with getting financing on concessional terms,
  • 18:53 and we are resisting to sign contracts on commercial terms
  • 19:01 that we understand will add stress to our debt situation.
  • 19:09 I understand.
  • 19:10 And so these are very challenging times for countries because of the pandemic,
  • 19:15 because of the slowdown in the global economy
  • 19:17 or worse, the deep recession for many countries.
  • 19:20 And then the challenge of rebuilding into the future
  • 19:24 in ways that will make it all sustainable.
  • 19:27 So I want to really thank you for joining today
  • 19:32 and good luck with all of the challenges facing Angola.
  • 19:36 Thank you, Vera.
  • 19:40 A big thank you to David and Minister Vera Daves for our first discussion.
  • 19:44 We've got lots more great speakers lined up,
  • 19:47 but now here's another chance for you to get involved.
  • 19:50 We're asking you to vote in our special poll,
  • 19:52 and we want to get a sense of how you're responding to the pandemic.
  • 19:55 So our question is, following the COVID-19 crisis,
  • 19:59 what is your biggest financial priority?
  • 20:01 Is it A, to save for the future
  • 20:04 or B, make wise investments?
  • 20:07 Or is your priority to C, take out a loan,
  • 20:10 or lastly, will you be focusing on D, paying off debts.
  • 20:15 Now let's go through that one more time.
  • 20:16 Following the COVID-19 crisis, what is your biggest financial priority?
  • 20:21 Is it A, to save for the future?
  • 20:24 B, make wise investments?
  • 20:26 Is your priority to C, take out a loan,
  • 20:30 or lastly, will you be focusing on D, paying off debts?
  • 20:34 You can cast your vote at live.worldbank.org.
  • 20:38 And my colleague, Sri Sridhar, and I
  • 20:39 will be revealing the results of the poll live
  • 20:42 at the end of this program.
  • 20:43 Now, as we heard earlier from Angola,
  • 20:45 governments today are grappling with how to finance their future development
  • 20:49 while also supporting their economies through the current crisis.
  • 20:52 Everyday citizens face similar challenges.
  • 20:55 We wanted to hear from you.
  • 20:56 How are you financing your future?
  • 20:59 How does your government's debt
  • 21:00 affect your ability to achieve your financial goals?
  • 21:03 Young leaders and entrepreneurs from all over the world,
  • 21:06 sent us videos sharing their thoughts.
  • 21:08 Let's take a moment to hear what they have to say.
  • 21:13 [RONIC NGAMBWE; STUDENT, UNIVERSITY OF MARY WASHINGTON, USA] If I could finance my future,
  • 21:14 [D.R. CONGO] I would pursue a graduate degree and invest in a home.
  • 21:18 [VIKTOR MITEVSKI; CO-FOUNDER, ASSOCIATION FOR RESEARCH AND ANALYSIS (ZMA)] If I could finance my future, I would keep on investing in my own business.
  • 21:23 [ANOKA PRIMROSE ABEYRATHNE; SUSTAINABILITY SPECIALIST] I would be supporting more women entrepreneurs
  • 21:26 [ONE YOUNG WORLD AMBASSADOR, SRI LANKA] through my extended business to empower themselves.
  • 21:30 [EGSHIGLEN ERDENEBAT; PROPERTY MANAGER, MONGOLIA] I will be able to open my business
  • 21:32 which will provide my family a better lifestyle and income.
  • 21:36 [KHERLENTUYA KHUKHUU; HR SPECIALIST, MONGOLIA] I would travel as many places around the world.
  • 21:39 [SANTIAGO CRESPO; ENTREPRENEUR, ARGENTINA] I would expand my business to create new jobs for others.
  • 21:43 [AMY MELKI; RESEARCH ANALYST, LEBANON] I would have peace of mind
  • 21:44 in overcoming the current Lebanese economic crisis.
  • 21:47 [JASON PAREJA JAUREGUI; ENGINEER AND ACTIVIST, ONE YOUNG WORLD AMBASSADOR] I would get a student loan with a low interest rate
  • 21:50 [PERU] in order to afford my MBA studies.
  • 21:53 [EKIN KORKMAZ; BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT AND SALES SPECIALIST, BEAM TECH COMPANY] Right now, my biggest financial goal is to save more.
  • 21:55 [SERGIO DAVID SILVA GUTIÉRREZ; IMPACT ENTREPRENEURSHIP ADVOCATE, COLOMBIA] It's to pay off my student loans.
  • 21:58 [JUBILANTÉ CUTTING; FOUNDER, DIGITIAL MEDIA ADVOCATE, GUYANA] To buy a home, a car, to save more and invest more.
  • 22:06 Now in his first interview,
  • 22:07 President Malpass heard about the challenges facing Angola
  • 22:10 as it battles with the pandemic,
  • 22:12 while also dealing with a very heavy debt burden.
  • 22:15 For his second conversation, he wanted to hear from the private sector
  • 22:19 and how it's responding to this challenge.
  • 22:21 Julie Monaco is the managing director of CITI.
  • 22:23 [RETHINKING DEBT: A CONVERSATION WITH JULIE MONACO; MANAGING DIRECTOR, CITI]
  • 22:33 Hi, I'm here with Julie Monaco, a managing director of CITI bank.
  • 22:37 She has a wealth of experience, decades in the field of international finance.
  • 22:44 And I wanted to really explore and understand better CITI's interaction
  • 22:49 as we explore the overall debt crisis.
  • 22:53 [WASHINGTON, DC, USA; MARYLAND, USA] So, Julie, I know you're an advisor to sovereigns
  • 22:57 or that's one of your roles.
  • 22:59 I wonder if you could go through the various roles
  • 23:01 or connections that CITI bank as a whole has with developing countries
  • 23:06 and especially with the poorest countries.
  • 23:09 [JULIE MONACO; MANAGING DIRECTOR, CITI] So David, we at CITI are the largest provider
  • 23:13 of debt underwriting for the EM sovereigns around the world.
  • 23:16 That is an area of great expertise and leadership from CITI for many decades.
  • 23:23 So we have tons of experience in working with sovereigns through restructurings.
  • 23:27 We have a sovereign rating advisory and a sovereign debt advisory team
  • 23:31 that gets involved with sovereigns that are facing debt distress.
  • 23:35 And we will work and we have had many, many years...
  • 23:38 My team, I should say, has, and the collective CITI team,
  • 23:41 has many years of experience of working in parallel
  • 23:44 with the IMF and with a sovereign and negotiating with private creditors.
  • 23:49 Most recently, we were in that position with the Ecuador restructuring.
  • 23:53 So as it relates to commercial bank lending, as you know,
  • 23:57 there is not a lot of traditional commercial bank lending
  • 24:01 from organizations like CITI or our peer institutions
  • 24:05 into the emerging market sovereigns.
  • 24:07 That is because of what happened in the '80s and '90s.
  • 24:10 Most of the commercial lending that would go...
  • 24:13 commercial bank lending that would happen with sovereigns
  • 24:16 is related to projects.
  • 24:18 And again, it's also tied to EIF type funds financing,
  • 24:23 where there is high alignment with the official community.
  • 24:25 Our lending portfolio into sovereigns
  • 24:28 is mostly focused on FX lines, trade lines,
  • 24:33 as well as EAF, which is export agency finance-backed lending
  • 24:39 from the official community, where the private sector and the public sector
  • 24:43 are very much aligned in that type of lending.
  • 24:46 So that is very different.
  • 24:47 And I think that the bank lending is very small
  • 24:51 compared to the overall official lending as well as the bonds market.
  • 24:57 That was great, and...
  • 24:59 People are very interested in the details of that.
  • 25:02 So as you think about Ecuador, it faced different types of debt
  • 25:05 and they were able to reprofile or restructure some parts of that debt.
  • 25:13 How does the change in contracts affect the country's ability
  • 25:19 or the outcome of those discussions?
  • 25:23 For example, in terms of either collateral or in terms of non-disclosure clause,
  • 25:28 what's changed over recent years in that regard?
  • 25:31 The role that CITI played in Ecuador...
  • 25:34 we were an advisor along with an independent advisor.
  • 25:38 We negotiated with the official creditors
  • 25:42 and we worked in parallel with the IMF and we worked with the bond holders.
  • 25:47 And I think that, I think that situation...
  • 25:52 I think Ecuador is a perfect example that the current process can work.
  • 25:57 And that when you look at a situation
  • 26:01 where the bond holders are willing to take a haircut, as they did.
  • 26:06 They are willing to do that when there is a level of transparency,
  • 26:10 when there is goodwill and the ability to show there are going to be changes
  • 26:16 and reforms and they get confidence in the data
  • 26:19 on how the country is going to move forward.
  • 26:21 I think we've seen time and time again, David,
  • 26:23 that there has been 17 Paris Club restructurings since 2010.
  • 26:28 Twelve of those involved mandatory inclusion of bond holders
  • 26:33 and bond holders are very willing to come to the table
  • 26:37 and restructure debt as long as there is that...
  • 26:41 One is that because of the way
  • 26:42 the more and more uptake of collective action clauses
  • 26:47 has made it easier to make those structurings happen on the bond side.
  • 26:51 Also, what you have is just an expectation.
  • 26:55 I think that it's understood in the bond markets
  • 26:58 that this type of restructuring is part of this asset class in the EM.
  • 27:03 And so I think that there's a level of acceptance there.
  • 27:05 But it also requires goodwill around how that restructuring gets done.
  • 27:10 It's different.
  • 27:12 The mechanism for restructuring the commercial bank debt
  • 27:16 is very different than the bond debt.
  • 27:19 And, as you know, in Ecuador, we restructured Ecuador.
  • 27:23 The bond holders took a cut,
  • 27:24 but nobody touched the official debt under that restructuring.
  • 27:27 And I actually, in preparation to talking to you about the benefits
  • 27:32 of the G20 common framework,
  • 27:34 I actually asked my team would that framework have changed anything
  • 27:39 about how we approached the restructuring in Ecuador?
  • 27:42 And the answer I got back was that potentially the G20 framework,
  • 27:48 because you have all the official creditors at the table
  • 27:52 and key official creditors that are not under the table
  • 27:54 under the Paris club like China,
  • 27:56 that potentially it could have sped up some of the negotiations
  • 28:01 on the official side.
  • 28:04 Let's stay on... Thank you for all of that.
  • 28:07 Let's stay on the common framework.
  • 28:09 So it's aimed at countries in debt distress
  • 28:14 and countries that are lower income than Ecuador.
  • 28:24 And so the constructive part that you described,
  • 28:26 that it brings together Paris Club creditors,
  • 28:29 the non Paris club official creditors, and also the private sector.
  • 28:33 So we're working currently with Chad, with Ethiopia,
  • 28:38 with Zambia who have requested common framework treatment.
  • 28:42 How do you see that playing out?
  • 28:43 Will it work, I wonder?
  • 28:48 I think, it certainly has the potential to work,
  • 28:52 and I think theoretically the common framework does make it better
  • 28:57 because... but there's conditions to that, right?
  • 29:00 There has to be better transparency.
  • 29:04 And there has to be complete transparency to build that goodwill.
  • 29:07 And again, you have to look at does it work?
  • 29:11 And how you're defining, "does it work?"
  • 29:13 You have the debt principle,
  • 29:16 that we go into these restructurings with any sovereign
  • 29:20 is you want to maintain as best you can access to commercial credit
  • 29:25 and to market credit after the restructuring, right?
  • 29:31 For entities that are on the lower end of the income
  • 29:35 that do not... that have lost...
  • 29:37 If a sovereign has already, in such a dire situation,
  • 29:43 that they've already experienced market exclusion,
  • 29:47 then obviously this type of restructuring under the G20 framework
  • 29:55 is something that is going to help them, right?
  • 29:58 They have nothing to lose by going through this type of framework.
  • 30:02 I think where we have to be careful with the framework
  • 30:05 is around sovereigns that may have a decent economy.
  • 30:10 They have the ability to reprofile the debt
  • 30:14 in a way that allows them not to lose access, right?
  • 30:18 To either bank credit or to the capital markets.
  • 30:22 And that's what we want to make sure.
  • 30:24 And that's why we're very encouraged.
  • 30:26 I just want to say, one statement is that,
  • 30:28 we are very encouraged by the way the G20 and the Paris Club
  • 30:31 has engaged the private sector on the G20 framework.
  • 30:35 And we believe that's going to be critical to make sure that it works
  • 30:39 in terms of having the private sector at the table early.
  • 30:42 Julie, how do you think about the short-term
  • 30:44 versus long-term trade-offs for countries?
  • 30:47 You could think about it as a liquidity problem
  • 30:50 versus the longer-term sustainability or solvency issues
  • 30:54 that the people of the country face.
  • 30:57 Are those incentives all in line...
  • 31:00 It seems to me that creditors have a large incentive
  • 31:04 to see the liquidity problem solved,
  • 31:06 meaning the short-run problem, and then maybe do it again.
  • 31:10 You mentioned all of the high number
  • 31:12 of Paris Club reschedulings that have already been underway.
  • 31:18 Yeah, I think that in terms of the trade-offs,
  • 31:20 you're trading off immediate relief with long-term access.
  • 31:25 And the funding growth needed, right?
  • 31:28 So when you think about how a country that goes through that process
  • 31:33 is going to have to balance that
  • 31:35 against their desire to finance their SDGs.
  • 31:38 And all of that... And there's not going to be enough official money to do that.
  • 31:43 So I think that the trade-offs that you're constantly trying to balance
  • 31:47 when you go through one of these negotiations
  • 31:49 is how to do it in a way that doesn't cut off a country
  • 31:53 from the additional private sector funding that's going to be needed for them.
  • 31:58 You know, because as we know, there's trillions of dollars of gap
  • 32:02 that the private sector have to fill
  • 32:04 on helping these countries achieve their SDGs.
  • 32:07 So you don't want to be in a situation where they don't have access to funding,
  • 32:11 or you have to look at the, like I said, the bond market,
  • 32:13 the mechanism of the bond market and the bank market are very different.
  • 32:16 On the bank side,
  • 32:18 if commercial banks are forced to take a restructuring
  • 32:23 that is going to have long-term implications for the country
  • 32:26 because credit committees, regulatory constraints...
  • 32:30 It's one of the reasons why there's very little traditional commercial credit
  • 32:35 from large institutions like CITI right now.
  • 32:39 So you see that there is long tail risk
  • 32:43 associated with forcing commercial bank restructuring.
  • 32:46 So you have to be very careful on that.
  • 32:48 And there's also implications where it's not just lending that gets impacted.
  • 32:52 It's the FX lines, it's the trade lines, and other impacts.
  • 32:56 So you have to be...
  • 32:58 So I think when we say under the framework,
  • 33:01 and I think the devil's in the details,
  • 33:02 that everything has to be done on an equal basis.
  • 33:05 If we apply the same methodology to the bond holders
  • 33:09 that we do to commercial bank credit,
  • 33:11 That's not necessarily going to work because they're very different mechanisms
  • 33:14 and very different considerations that we have to take when we're advising.
  • 33:18 And one final question, does collateral...
  • 33:21 More of the lending has been done with collateral
  • 33:25 and also with non-disclosure clauses in it by...
  • 33:29 Not by CITI, but by others.
  • 33:31 Does that change the dynamic of the reprofiling or of the restructuring?
  • 33:36 Yes.
  • 33:38 So I think that when we talk about the transparency principles,
  • 33:41 disclosures of liabilities are key.
  • 33:44 And what we're seeing is there are indirect pledges of central bank reserves.
  • 33:51 Even the banks ownership of its, their own bank repo agreements,
  • 33:56 their long-term commercial commitments with set-offs, right?
  • 34:00 And that's very common with countries that are oil exporting countries
  • 34:04 and have SOEs that are oil companies.
  • 34:06 So those are points of concern.
  • 34:09 And I think that we have to figure out through the transparency principles...
  • 34:13 Those aren't considered as they're not included in the transparency requirements
  • 34:18 and we have to move to get there.
  • 34:20 And I think one of the most...
  • 34:23 I think we at CITI have very much been a supporter
  • 34:28 of the transparency principles that the IMF has put forward in 2019.
  • 34:33 I think a lot of great solutions to transparency
  • 34:36 were in the World Bank report that you did in the fall.
  • 34:41 And I think that we need to address these transparency issues
  • 34:45 if we're going to get there because it is problematic as you go into these.
  • 34:49 And I can tell you that it's a forensics exercise
  • 34:55 to get access to all this information when you're doing a restructuring.
  • 34:59 And without going into the details,
  • 35:01 I can tell you that it was a forensic exercise as we approached it in Ecuador.
  • 35:06 And it will be the same thing in other countries.
  • 35:08 So I think the IIF has recently gotten...
  • 35:14 The IIF recently has asked the OECD
  • 35:18 to take implementing the transparency principles
  • 35:21 because they've been out there for a few years and haven't really been taken up.
  • 35:24 And if the OECD gets backing from the G20
  • 35:27 and it's actually implemented, and we build upon that,
  • 35:30 I think that's going to be critically important
  • 35:32 to make these restructurings work better.
  • 35:36 Thank you very much, Julie.
  • 35:37 Very interesting conversation, I appreciate it.
  • 35:42 [LOMÉ, TOGO] I'm Eric Keglan in Lomé, Togo,
  • 35:45 and you're watching the World Bank Group IMF Spring Meetings.
  • 35:51 A reminder that President Malpass will be joining us again
  • 35:53 to answer your questions in a special live show, following this event.
  • 35:57 So be sure to stick around.
  • 35:58 And in the meantime, you can upvote your favorite question
  • 36:01 [LIVE.WORLDBANK.ORG] at live.worldbank.org.
  • 36:03 That's also where our experts are already answering your questions
  • 36:06 in English, Arabic, Spanish, and French on our live chat.
  • 36:10 That's all at live.worldbank.org.
  • 36:13 And if you've just joined us, welcome.
  • 36:14 I'm Paul Blake and you're watching our Spring Meetings event on Rethinking Debt.
  • 36:18 Now it's fair to say that in this debt crisis,
  • 36:20 children are among those hardest hit.
  • 36:23 Kevin Watkins, chief executive officer of Save the Children,
  • 36:26 knows from experience how debt crises can hurt future generations.
  • 36:30 He joined President Malpass for the final segment
  • 36:33 in today's series of conversations on Rethinking Debt.
  • 36:36 [RETHINKING DEBT: A CONVERSATION WITH KEVIN WATKINS, CEO, SAVE THE CHILDREN]
  • 36:46 [WASHINGTON, DC, USA; LONDON, UK] Hello, I'm here with Kevin Watkins.
  • 36:48 Kevin, you've been involved in development for a long time, for decades.
  • 36:53 I wonder if you have reflections on debt itself
  • 36:56 and how it interacts with countries.
  • 36:59 What are your thoughts in general?
  • 37:02 [KEVIN WATKINS; CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, SAVE THE CHILDREN] Thanks David, and it's great to be here with you.
  • 37:05 Well, I think my most immediate reflection is,
  • 37:08 when I look back to when I started in Oxfam, which was back in the early 1990s,
  • 37:15 it was really at the tail end of what had been a lost decade for Latin America.
  • 37:21 And what was the start of the second lost decade for Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • 37:28 And of course, debt wasn't the only problem driving these last decades
  • 37:33 for some of the poorest parts of the world, but it was a significant part.
  • 37:38 And looking back on that episode now, I think there are a couple of lessons
  • 37:44 that have an important bearing on the work that the World Bank
  • 37:48 and you personally are leading, which is first of all,
  • 37:52 a mistake was made both in Latin America and in Africa,
  • 37:56 which was to treat what was a solvency problem as a liquidity problem.
  • 38:03 And so we had a succession of failed initiatives
  • 38:07 until, in the case of the low-income countries, we had the HIPC initiative,
  • 38:12 which of course the bank played a central part in framing and driving through,
  • 38:18 but it really took us the best part of two decades to solve the problem.
  • 38:22 And I think the second lesson that comes out of that period
  • 38:26 is that it's really critical that all creditors participate
  • 38:30 in solving the problem.
  • 38:33 And again, there were a lot of delays in those early stages
  • 38:36 of getting all creditors together and to treat that in a coherent way.
  • 38:43 And of course there was a lack of transparency in the system.
  • 38:46 For many countries it was very difficult to work out where the debt was held
  • 38:51 and how much that was held by who.
  • 38:53 When you say solvency and liquidity...
  • 38:55 So liquidity is looking at the shorter term
  • 38:58 and recognizing that the country is out of cash
  • 39:00 and solvency is the idea of how do you have sustainable debt.
  • 39:04 And so do you think the system has improved over these decades?
  • 39:10 Are we in a better position now to tackle that specific dichotomy
  • 39:15 that the temptation of creditors is to say,
  • 39:18 "well, as long as I get paid over the next three years, I should be okay."
  • 39:23 Versus the longer-term goals of the country
  • 39:26 are to have children grow up with enough food, with enough healthcare.
  • 39:31 How are we in a better place now?
  • 39:35 Well, I think that's a great question
  • 39:37 and you're quite right to draw attention to the human dimension of this.
  • 39:42 What concerned me most about that when I was working in Oxfam
  • 39:47 back in the '90s and the early 2000s
  • 39:50 was the impact that it was having in diverting investment
  • 39:56 that could have been going into nutrition,
  • 39:59 into education, into child health, to creditors
  • 40:02 in a way that was holding back the progress of countries.
  • 40:06 Now as to whether the system is more transparent
  • 40:10 and clearer now than it was back in those days,
  • 40:14 I think that's an open question because if you look at what happened after HIPC,
  • 40:19 of course, a lot of money was saved, about just under 2% of GDP actually
  • 40:24 for the 37 countries covered on average.
  • 40:28 A lot of that money did go into healthcare and education,
  • 40:32 but unfortunately, many of the countries that benefited from the HIPC initiative
  • 40:38 off the back of the commodities boom that happened after 2007
  • 40:45 started taking on credit on terms, which we now look back
  • 40:51 and say was probably not affordable in the case of a lot of sovereign debt.
  • 40:57 And in the case of debt that was incurred,
  • 41:00 in particular from China, was very nontransparent.
  • 41:04 This was debt that was often collateralized against productive assets,
  • 41:08 much of which was held off the books, as it were, in parastatal enterprises.
  • 41:14 And we're now coming to terms with the fact that,
  • 41:17 even before the COVID-19 pandemic struck,
  • 41:22 about half of countries eligible for IDA lending,
  • 41:26 were either back in that distress or in danger
  • 41:30 of falling back into that distress.
  • 41:32 And so I fear not enough lessons were learned from that earlier period.
  • 41:37 And it's absolutely critical that we now do take on board those lessons
  • 41:42 as we work to make the debt sustainability initiative work.
  • 41:48 One of the lessons is the need for transparency,
  • 41:51 for much deeper understanding of what the contracts are,
  • 41:54 what the terms are, what the collateral might be.
  • 41:57 We're working hard on that at the World Bank,
  • 41:59 including our international debt statistics system.
  • 42:04 To have it have more scope and to include more types of debt
  • 42:09 because the creditors are quite skillful at finding ways
  • 42:14 that debt doesn't count in the statistics, and yet it still bears the burden.
  • 42:20 So I think we can make progress on transparency,
  • 42:23 but there still is a tendency or there is an increasing tendency
  • 42:28 to have non-disclosure clauses and collateral, as you say,
  • 42:32 which makes it all difficult.
  • 42:34 At the core of the G20 common framework
  • 42:37 is the idea of trying to have comparable treatment for all creditors.
  • 42:44 And one of the challenges, and I wonder if you'll comment,
  • 42:46 is on the makeup of the international financial system or the legal structure.
  • 42:52 Is it given...
  • 42:54 Is there really a way to have comparable treatment
  • 42:58 that includes private sector creditors?
  • 43:02 Well, I think it's absolutely critical, David,
  • 43:05 that private sector creditors are part of the deal here.
  • 43:08 And both in the common framework and actually in the DSSI framework,
  • 43:14 it's absolutely clear that the expectation
  • 43:16 is that all creditors will participate
  • 43:20 in providing debt relief and supporting the moratorium.
  • 43:25 The reality is you just have to look at the simple arithmetic of debt servicing.
  • 43:30 The Paris Club,
  • 43:31 which is the main group of creditors that have provided debt relief so far,
  • 43:36 account for something in the order of six and a half billion in debt servicing.
  • 43:43 China and private creditors account for something
  • 43:47 in the order of over 35 billion.
  • 43:50 So if we don't have private creditors participating,
  • 43:54 if we don't have China participating,
  • 43:57 we're not going to be able to provide the support
  • 44:00 that countries so desperately need
  • 44:02 as they try to adjust to the fiscal crisis that they're now in.
  • 44:06 Yeah, that's a huge shift from your early days in the 1990s of...
  • 44:12 The Paris club used to be one of the big players within the credit,
  • 44:16 but you're saying six billion versus 35 billion of debt service.
  • 44:20 So it's become lopsided the other way.
  • 44:24 That used to be, in the 1980s, the commercial banks had a big chunk of the debt.
  • 44:31 That's less so the case now, so we have different problems.
  • 44:35 Well, Kevin, do you have other...
  • 44:39 I mean, any direct advice that you want to give to the international community
  • 44:45 on the debt problem?
  • 44:47 Is it a big problem and what could be done?
  • 44:50 One or two things that would make it move along
  • 44:53 in a better direction than in the past?
  • 44:58 Well, I think I'd have to proposition support on that.
  • 45:01 So the first is that it's very clear that for a large group of countries
  • 45:09 that debt servicing is now compromising
  • 45:13 the ability of government to provide basic services
  • 45:17 for some of their most vulnerable citizens and for children.
  • 45:21 I mean, to give one illustration of the problem,
  • 45:24 there are about 35 countries who are covered by the DSSI initiative,
  • 45:31 who are currently spending more on debt servicing
  • 45:35 than they're spending on health.
  • 45:36 This is at a time when child malnutrition is rising
  • 45:42 when child poverty is rising,
  • 45:44 when we have evidence from the World Bank
  • 45:46 the education budgets are being cut very deeply
  • 45:50 as governments respond to fiscal pressures.
  • 45:53 So surely this is an opportunity
  • 45:56 for the world to come together on behalf of children
  • 46:00 and to convert what are essentially unpayable debt liabilities in many cases
  • 46:07 into investments in human capital
  • 46:09 and in particular capital and support for children
  • 46:14 to make sure that they get the education and nutrition,
  • 46:16 the decent health that they have a right to.
  • 46:20 The second point I would make is that, in order for this initiative to work,
  • 46:26 and we really appreciate your leadership, David, in driving this initiative,
  • 46:31 it is critical that all creditors participate.
  • 46:35 It's simply not acceptable for sovereign bond holders
  • 46:38 to sit on the sidelines, to hide behind opaque deals,
  • 46:43 and to assume that they have some sort of exemption ticket
  • 46:47 from their moral responsibilities
  • 46:51 and their obligations towards the countries in question.
  • 46:54 So we would really like to see all creditors participating.
  • 46:59 We know from the experience of Bolivia.
  • 47:02 That when private creditors step up and provide relief,
  • 47:07 it can actually improve the credit rating of countries
  • 47:11 and it can certainly improve the financial sustainability prospects.
  • 47:16 So I think David they would be my two primary recommendations.
  • 47:21 Thank you, that's a great conclusion.
  • 47:23 Kevin, thank you very much for your insights.
  • 47:27 Good luck in all.
  • 47:29 Thank you so much, David. Good to see you.
  • 47:32 [UGANDA] Gyebale ko. I'm Kunda Esther in Uganda,
  • 47:35 and you're watching the World Bank Group IMF Spring Meetings.
  • 47:41 And a big thank you to President Malpass and all of his guests today.
  • 47:44 Let's remind you of the poll we're running throughout this event.
  • 47:47 We're asking you to vote at live.worldbank.org, and the question is
  • 47:50 following the COVID-19 crisis, what is your biggest financial priority?
  • 47:55 Is it A, to save for the future or B, make wise investments,
  • 48:00 or is your priority to C, take out a loan
  • 48:02 or lastly, will you be focusing on D, paying off debts?
  • 48:06 [LIVE.WORLDBANK.ORG] You can cast your vote at live.worldbank.org.
  • 48:09 That's also where you can dive deeper
  • 48:11 into some of the issues raised by our guests.
  • 48:13 We've put together a list of reports, blogs, and briefs,
  • 48:16 so you can learn more about the topics we're discussing today.
  • 48:19 Now it's time to turn to our final discussion.
  • 48:21 This debt crisis is unprecedented because it's linked to a global pandemic,
  • 48:26 but it sure isn't the first time that the world has confronted this challenge.
  • 48:30 In fact, there've been reccurring cycles of debt
  • 48:32 in many parts of the world throughout history.
  • 48:35 I'm joined today by two experts
  • 48:36 to discuss what we can learn from this experience
  • 48:38 to chart a better course for permanent debt reduction.
  • 48:41 [WASHINGTON, DC, USA; FLORIDA, USA; VIRGINIA, USA] Carmen Reinhardt is the World Bank Group Chief Economist,
  • 48:44 and K.Y. Amoako is the president
  • 48:46 of the African Center for Economic Transformation.
  • 48:49 Welcome to you both.
  • 48:50 Carmen, let me start with you.
  • 48:52 You've studied financial crises over the past 800 years.
  • 48:56 What's different about this crisis?
  • 49:00 [CARMEN REINHART; CHIEF ECONOMIST, WORLD BANK GROUP] Well, the list is really too long to go over, but let me highlight a couple...
  • 49:06 I mean, it started as a health crisis.
  • 49:09 Didn't have its roots in a financial bubble or financial-driven...
  • 49:17 It's a pandemic.
  • 49:19 Because it's a pandemic one of the exceptional things about this crisis
  • 49:24 is that it's really hit everyone.
  • 49:26 The synchronicity in output declines in 2020
  • 49:31 is something you have not seen historically.
  • 49:35 Another feature that makes it very different from the 2008, 2009 crisis.
  • 49:42 It's that it's a very regressive crisis.
  • 49:46 It's regressive within countries, hitting the poorest within countries,
  • 49:51 households, smaller firms, and across countries.
  • 49:56 This is different from 2008, 2009,
  • 50:00 where a big focal point of the crisis were about a dozen advanced economies.
  • 50:07 Now the low-income countries,
  • 50:10 the emerging markets are really disproportionately hurting.
  • 50:17 Okay, well, let's talk about some of those emerging economies.
  • 50:19 Over the years, Africa has been hit by cycles of debt buildups, and then crises.
  • 50:25 You've seen the setbacks when budgets become tight
  • 50:28 and payment difficulties become the greatest concern.
  • 50:31 How are people and development programs affected during those crises?
  • 50:37 [DR K.Y. AMOAKO; PRESIDENT, AFRICAN CENTER FOR ECONOMIC TRANSFORMATION] Yeah, the first point I would like to make is that [indistinct] in crisis
  • 50:43 are accompanied by high debt payments,
  • 50:46 which naturally restrict the fiscal space to respond.
  • 50:52 When countries are in that distress or a debt crisis,
  • 50:56 they spend their limited finances to pay interest
  • 50:59 rather than to invest in human capital, develop critical infrastructure,
  • 51:05 and facilitate economic growth and job creation.
  • 51:09 As a result countries already struggling to transform their economies
  • 51:13 and invest in their people, suffer further setbacks.
  • 51:19 Let me put it in the context of Africa, that I know best.
  • 51:24 Our growing young population
  • 51:26 requires governments invest in education, skills, and job creation,
  • 51:31 but we increase in debt payments
  • 51:34 and in economic downturn the amount of money countries can invest is reduced.
  • 51:40 As a result, there's a severe risk
  • 51:44 we'll be adding another generation of poorly educated
  • 51:48 and unskilled young people to the ones we already have
  • 51:52 because we have spent our limited resources on debt repayments
  • 51:56 on social protection for the most vulnerable.
  • 52:00 This in Africa would substantially, seems to me,
  • 52:04 affect our ability to transform our great youth population
  • 52:08 into the growing demographic dividend that we are looking for.
  • 52:13 So as I see it by 2020, we all know this,
  • 52:17 Africa will have more people entering the labor market than any world region.
  • 52:23 If they are not gainfully employed, we will have social and political unrest.
  • 52:28 So it seems to me, we need a robust solution.
  • 52:32 We are laying the foundations without a robust solution.
  • 52:36 We'll be laying the foundation for ascertaining the potential risks
  • 52:40 associated with these challenges.
  • 52:42 So it's real.
  • 52:45 Let's talk about some of those solutions,
  • 52:46 and you're talking about some of the risks involved.
  • 52:49 Carmen, I know you've been stressing the need for quick debt resolution.
  • 52:53 Are there examples where decisive debt reduction worked
  • 52:56 and led to better economic conditions
  • 52:58 and in particular, what about in the emerging market...
  • 53:01 emerging markets crises of the 1980s to 2000s?
  • 53:06 Well, so there are examples of quick resolutions,
  • 53:10 but they tend to be unfortunately of the more isolated, idiosyncratic variety.
  • 53:18 Meaning a country that was hit by a natural disaster,
  • 53:23 and it was able to quickly renegotiate with its creditors.
  • 53:27 But when you asked me about the 1980s,
  • 53:31 a big takeaway from the 1980s is precisely we don't want to repeat that.
  • 53:37 For the very reasons that K.Y. alluded to.
  • 53:44 You know, the burden of having resources devoted to debt servicing
  • 53:50 at a time when resource needs to recover from the pandemic crises are so dire.
  • 54:00 This highlights the importance of debt relief.
  • 54:02 But what am I afraid of right now?
  • 54:04 I'm afraid of that, so far, the move in that direction is very, very slow.
  • 54:16 We have not seen private creditor participation in DSSI as yet.
  • 54:25 And if history is any guide,
  • 54:28 unfortunately the creditors will also move slowly in granting debt relief.
  • 54:40 And we have a much more complex creditor base today than we did in the 1980s.
  • 54:50 Countries have bond holders, a variety of private creditors,
  • 54:57 a broader array of official creditors.
  • 54:59 It's complicated.
  • 55:01 So the need for speedy debt reduction is clearly there.
  • 55:08 But as I said, the problem, historically,
  • 55:14 has been a very slow movement on the creditor side.
  • 55:19 I think more transparency.
  • 55:21 Something that the bank has been really working very assiduously for some time,
  • 55:30 to increase transparency of debt and credits and terms of borrowing and so on,
  • 55:38 can increase the creditor coordination and speed things along.
  • 55:45 It won't solve the issues, but it may help speed things up.
  • 55:50 And K.Y Carmen was just talking there about the changing creditor base.
  • 55:54 And I've been reading a little bit about this.
  • 55:56 Diversifying creditor base with private creditors increasing their share.
  • 56:01 Tell us a little bit about why that is a challenge
  • 56:04 and how countries in Africa are dealing with this new challenge.
  • 56:07 Are there any lessons that can be learned from past experiences
  • 56:11 to improve debt management today?
  • 56:14 Yeah, I think both of you and Carmen are very correct
  • 56:17 that the debt situation is a lot more complex
  • 56:21 In that first part we all agree,
  • 56:23 but we also agreed that everybody wants to ensure that Africa transforms.
  • 56:29 As I say, with our growing population we must spend more
  • 56:32 on infrastructure, education, urbanization.
  • 56:35 We need smart agriculture, we need smart technology, and we need smart people.
  • 56:41 But we see that over the years,
  • 56:42 so the last few decades, China, for example,
  • 56:46 has emerged as the biggest bilateral lender to Africa.
  • 56:51 Transferring nearly $150 billion.
  • 56:55 In addition, there's much more private sector debt
  • 57:01 and Russia and Middle Eastern cities are becoming big lenders to Africa.
  • 57:07 These new players often, let's say, operate by rules
  • 57:12 that may seem less transparent.
  • 57:14 That's a fact.
  • 57:16 Making it more difficult to understand the scale of the problem.
  • 57:21 So capacity across the continent to manage debt
  • 57:24 is more robust, it seems to be, than it was in the 1990s.
  • 57:29 But after the COVID crisis,
  • 57:31 several African countries are facing debt distress or a debt crisis.
  • 57:37 But as you say, we need to learn from the past.
  • 57:40 I've just written a book about Africa and development
  • 57:43 called " If you know the beginning well, the end shall not trouble you,"
  • 57:47 from an African proverb.
  • 57:49 So we need to learn lessons from the past to inform the future.
  • 57:53 That's the essence of what I'm trying to say.
  • 57:55 So what are some of the...
  • 57:56 First national and regional debt problems are not individually events
  • 58:02 for countries with temporary liquidity shortages.
  • 58:05 They will over time have significant repercussions
  • 58:09 for global financial stability.
  • 58:12 That's one lesson.
  • 58:13 Second, negotiating ad hoc solutions with different borrowers does not work.
  • 58:20 Any solution developed must work for all lenders, official and commercial.
  • 58:27 Third point I'll make is that the process, as Carmen said, must be transparent.
  • 58:33 Covering any new financing sources
  • 58:36 and the framer for subsequent transactions between parties.
  • 58:41 Fourth and finally, by pursuing a green, strong policy reform program
  • 58:47 at the country level,
  • 58:48 putting the money in the game, and giving creditors real options.
  • 58:55 if you do so, uncertainty can be minimized and investor confidence restored.
  • 59:02 So those are some of the lessons that I think
  • 59:04 are applicable to our situation today.
  • 59:08 And Carmen three countries have applied so far for debt relief
  • 59:11 under the G20 common framework for debt treatments.
  • 59:14 Now, for those of us who might not be aware,
  • 59:16 can you tell us briefly what that is?
  • 59:18 And then can you talk to us about whether, in your assessment,
  • 59:21 this is a step in the right direction
  • 59:23 in shaping debt restructuring going forward?
  • 59:29 So, first of all,
  • 59:30 let's start out with the debt suspension initiative,
  • 59:36 the DSSI, the debt service suspension initiative.
  • 59:40 We were dealt, we have a once in a hundred year pandemic.
  • 59:45 This is an exceptional shock as we've already discussed.
  • 59:50 So the DSSI was primarily designed with the view
  • 59:56 that, during the pandemic,
  • 01:00:01 countries would be far better off diverting resources away from debt servicing
  • 01:00:08 to deal with the health and social emergency
  • 01:00:12 and the social needs with the pandemic,
  • 01:00:16 but it's a temporary solution.
  • 01:00:19 And it was designed as a temporary solution.
  • 01:00:22 Now, K.Y has already alluded to this.
  • 01:00:27 Even before COVID, a significant share of countries
  • 01:00:31 were either in debt distress or in a high likelihood of debt distress.
  • 01:00:37 Since COVID that number has increased.
  • 01:00:39 So the common framework moves from the recognition
  • 01:00:44 that these problems are temporary
  • 01:00:47 to that the problems are more structural,
  • 01:00:51 that debt reduction of one form or another is needed.
  • 01:00:56 And by debt reduction, it can take many forms.
  • 01:00:59 It can be face value reductions
  • 01:01:02 or it could be lengthening maturities and giving better lending terms.
  • 01:01:08 It can take a variety of forms.
  • 01:01:12 That's not what we're discussing here,
  • 01:01:14 but the main point is that you need debt reduction in net present value terms,
  • 01:01:19 which is something beyond the DSSI.
  • 01:01:24 And K.Y. and I also mentioned the issue of transparency.
  • 01:01:29 Right now I think a very important driver
  • 01:01:34 of how quickly the common framework can move forward
  • 01:01:39 in the cases of Chad, Ethiopia, and Zambia,
  • 01:01:43 the three countries that have applied,
  • 01:01:45 importantly, relies on creditors' being able to get together
  • 01:01:50 and work something out.
  • 01:01:51 And for creditors to be able to work something out, you need transparency.
  • 01:01:56 And as K.Y has noted,
  • 01:02:02 we have a lot of new entrants into the creditor pool, and...
  • 01:02:09 So it will be a challenge.
  • 01:02:12 I will conclude by saying it's a step in the right direction.
  • 01:02:16 It opens the door to the recognition
  • 01:02:20 that the problems are bigger than a temporary pandemic
  • 01:02:27 And, you know...
  • 01:02:30 But in these things, I always say the devil is in the details.
  • 01:02:34 So we'll see how creditors can coordinate to produce a good outcome
  • 01:02:43 for the countries that have applied.
  • 01:02:45 K.Y., let's just get the final thought from you.
  • 01:02:47 What can the international community do to reach a more permanent solution?
  • 01:02:52 Wow, that's a big one.
  • 01:02:54 I think that starts with the DSSI that Carmen has just mentioned.
  • 01:03:00 It's a step in the right direction, but it's not sufficient.
  • 01:03:04 And then, so we need to build upon that.
  • 01:03:07 I think in the first stage we need to extend it to the end of 2021
  • 01:03:12 to give countries more fiscal space to keep investing
  • 01:03:16 in the priorities that I've already mentioned.
  • 01:03:18 And then there's obviously the issue of a common framework
  • 01:03:21 and how we'll work on that.
  • 01:03:21 So this is a first step, but how do we deepen that going forward?
  • 01:03:26 So very much, I agree with what Carmen has said on that.
  • 01:03:29 We also need to work on innovation, solutions to the current debt challenge
  • 01:03:34 so that they respond to diverse needs of borrowers and lenders.
  • 01:03:40 My colleagues at the Economic Commission for Africa, which I headed before.
  • 01:03:46 have been arguing, for example, that we need to acknowledge,
  • 01:03:50 come up with a fairer rating system
  • 01:03:53 for African borrowers, borrowing countries.
  • 01:03:56 For example, they indicate Greece has a worse debt to GDP ratio than Ghana,
  • 01:04:04 but Greece can borrow at less than 2%,
  • 01:04:09 whereas it's at least 4.5% for Ghana.
  • 01:04:13 So the whole international rating system
  • 01:04:15 and how African countries cannot access the market
  • 01:04:19 is also an issue that they've been talking about,
  • 01:04:23 are the requests of the African finance ministers
  • 01:04:25 and they met in Addis Ababa only a few days ago.
  • 01:04:29 The ministers came out with their recommendation.
  • 01:04:32 That the SDR amount should create up to $650 billion worth of SDRs.
  • 01:04:42 And to establish an online mechanism
  • 01:04:45 for G7 countries to transfer their SDRs to shares...
  • 01:04:50 SDR shares to low- and middle-income countries.
  • 01:04:53 That's a specific recommendation from African finance ministers.
  • 01:04:58 I'm glad that, only yesterday I believe,
  • 01:05:01 the managing director of the IMF has indicated
  • 01:05:04 she is committed to recommending to her board, the creation of additional SDRs.
  • 01:05:11 I think they're the kind of integrated solutions we need.
  • 01:05:13 But we should not just focus on debt, and that's my main point.
  • 01:05:18 If Africa is to achieve...
  • 01:05:23 Rekindle loss to COVID in terms of meeting our SDG goals in the decade ahead,
  • 01:05:32 we must transform our economies at a faster pace than we have been so far.
  • 01:05:40 I think it goes beyond that, it's about transformation.
  • 01:05:44 And to transform, African countries, like countries everywhere, must borrow.
  • 01:05:50 But to ensure that this borrowing is manageable,
  • 01:05:52 it must be affordable to ensure we can repay our debts.
  • 01:05:57 So these are the fundamental issues
  • 01:05:59 that I want to put on the table in the long term.
  • 01:06:01 K.Y. Amoako and Carmen M. Reinhart,
  • 01:06:03 thank you so much for sharing your insights with us.
  • 01:06:05 Now, we've heard a lot about how much debt and financing
  • 01:06:08 can help or hinder a resilient recovery in developing countries.
  • 01:06:12 The way countries handle their borrowing today
  • 01:06:14 will determine whether they can achieve their development goals
  • 01:06:17 tomorrow and into the future.
  • 01:06:19 It will also weigh heavily on the financial hopes and dreams
  • 01:06:22 of citizens everywhere, especially youth.
  • 01:06:26 Now, throughout this event, we've been hearing from young global leaders
  • 01:06:29 and let's hear from them once more.
  • 01:06:32 [IMPACT ENTREPRENEURSHIP ADVOCATE, COLOMBIA] In five years, I hope that I can buy a home for my parents.
  • 01:06:36 [RESARCH ANALYST, LEBANON] I hope that I would have recovered resources that I lost
  • 01:06:39 due to the government defaulting on its debt.
  • 01:06:41 [STUDENT, UNIVERSITY OF MARY WASHINGTON, USA, D.R. CONGO] I hope that I am living debt-free and financially stable.
  • 01:06:46 [SHAZEEB M. KHAIRUL ISLAM; OBAMA SCHOLAR, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY] I hope that I am able to give access to financing
  • 01:06:49 [FOUNDERY YY VENTURES, ONE YOUNG WORLD AMBASSADOR, BANGLADESH] to 100 people of my generation from emerging countries.
  • 01:06:53 [IVANNA VELISONE; COLLEGE STUDENT, ARGENTINA] I hope to own my own home and feel more comfortable managing my budget.
  • 01:06:57 [CO-FOUNDER, ASSOCIATION FOR RESEARCH AND ANALYSIS (ZMA), NORTH MACEDONIA] I hope that I would start a family and get on the Aggie 100 list.
  • 01:07:02 [ANGAR ENKHTUR; TEAM ASSISTANT, WORLD BANK, MONGOLIA] To travel to the countries that I have never traveled to
  • 01:07:07 and consider saving up for cash for any kind of emergency situations.
  • 01:07:13 [LAMIJA HRELJIC; STUDENT, SARAJEVO, BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA] The current financial system doesn't work for me. Let's fix it.
  • 01:07:16 [SUSTAINABILITY SPECIALIST, ONE YOUNG WORLD AMBASSADOR, SRI LANKA] The current financial system doesn't work for me. Let's fix it.
  • 01:07:22 [ENTREPRENEUER, ARGENTINA] The current financial system doesn't work for me. Let's fix it.
  • 01:07:26 [BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT AND SALES SPECIALIST, BEAM TECH COMPANY, TURKEY] Let's fix it.
  • 01:07:27 Let's fix it.
  • 01:07:28 Let's fix it.
  • 01:07:29 [CARITTA SEPPA; CO-FOUNDER AND COO, TESPACIK, FINLAND] Let's fix it.
  • 01:07:30 [SALIH MAHMOUD; FOUNDER, MOSUL SPACE, IRAQ] Let's fix it.
  • 01:07:32 Let's fix it.
  • 01:07:36 So great to hear all of those positive hopes for the future.
  • 01:07:39 Now we're only halfway through this week's events,
  • 01:07:41 and if you want to share your thoughts on any aspect of our Spring Meetings,
  • 01:07:45 [#RESILIENTRECOVERY] you can use the hashtag "ResilientRecovery."
  • 01:07:48 Now, please don't go anywhere.
  • 01:07:49 The show continues live from the World Bank Group headquarters,
  • 01:07:52 where my colleague Srimathi Sridhar is standing by
  • 01:07:54 with World Bank Group president, David Malpass.
  • 01:07:57 We'll be looking at your questions, your comments,
  • 01:08:00 revealing the results of today's poll, and much more.
  • 01:08:15 [LIVE: WASHINGTON, DC] And we're live once more from the World Bank Group headquarters
  • 01:08:17 in Washington, DC.
  • 01:08:19 [SRIMATHI SRIDHAR; WORLD BANK GROUP] I'm Srimathi Sridhar and over the next half hour or so,
  • 01:08:21 we'll hear from youth in Japan, Lesotho, and Nigeria
  • 01:08:25 on their hopes for a COVID-19 recovery.
  • 01:08:27 We'll also reveal the results of our poll
  • 01:08:30 [LIVE: WORLD BANK GROUOP PRESIDENT DAVID MALPASS ON RETHINKING DEBT] and speak to our country directors in India and Benin
  • 01:08:32 about the climate challenges and action taking place in those countries.
  • 01:08:36 But first, to get his thoughts, I'm delighted to be joined
  • 01:08:38 by World Bank group president David Malpass.
  • 01:08:41 David it's so nice to see you again, thanks for being here.
  • 01:08:43 Hi Sri, good to be here.
  • 01:08:44 So we've gotten a lot of great questions over the past few weeks
  • 01:08:47 on the role debt could play in helping countries recover from the pandemic.
  • 01:08:51 So let's get started with this first question.
  • 01:08:52 It was sent to us on video by Ebuka Orjiakor in Nigeria.
  • 01:08:57 Let's take a look.
  • 01:08:58 [EBUKA ORJIAKOR, NIGERIA] Hello everyone, hi, my name is Christian Ebuka Orjiakor.
  • 01:09:03 So the big question, the question here
  • 01:09:05 is how does the debt affect development?
  • 01:09:08 Does debt promote development or deter development?
  • 01:09:11 Or can debt be a double edge sword?
  • 01:09:14 Thank you.
  • 01:09:18 So how does debt affect development?
  • 01:09:20 What would you tell Ebuka, David?
  • 01:09:21 Yep, and these are really interesting topics
  • 01:09:25 that people have been discussing today.
  • 01:09:26 [DAVID MALPASS; PRESIDENT, WORLD BANK GROUP] And that's a critical one, it is a double edge sword.
  • 01:09:30 If you borrow and don't have a good purpose for it,
  • 01:09:34 it's going to come back because you have to pay debt service,
  • 01:09:37 you have to repay the debt
  • 01:09:39 and you won't get what you want out of the debt.
  • 01:09:41 But on the other hand, for developing countries, for everyone really,
  • 01:09:46 debt can be an important part of a growth initiative.
  • 01:09:49 You can fund health initiatives,
  • 01:09:51 you can fund, very importantly, new businesses.
  • 01:09:55 So if we think of development, there should be more and more debt.
  • 01:09:59 And that's what we're trying to create that
  • 01:10:01 with some of our transparency initiatives.
  • 01:10:03 If the people of the country know what their governments are borrowing,
  • 01:10:07 and there's some transparency of the contracts.
  • 01:10:10 What's the interest rate on the contract?
  • 01:10:13 What's the purpose of the contract?
  • 01:10:15 That helps a lot.
  • 01:10:16 [LIVE DISCUSSION: FINANCING THE FUTURE AMID CRISIS] And you know, it works also on the investment side,
  • 01:10:19 meaning what are we getting for our money?
  • 01:10:22 Will it be useful to the community?
  • 01:10:24 Will it be useful to the nation?
  • 01:10:26 And what really is the plan for using this debt capacity of the country?
  • 01:10:31 I think those are valid, relevant questions.
  • 01:10:34 And we're right now at a point in the world,
  • 01:10:36 where some of the countries are over indebted.
  • 01:10:39 There's an unsustainable amount of debt.
  • 01:10:41 So that's a big challenge that we're working on.
  • 01:10:44 So understanding how that affects development, now
  • 01:10:46 let's bring in the youth perspective.
  • 01:10:48 We have a question online from Tara
  • 01:10:50 who wants to know what youth can do in their communities
  • 01:10:53 to create more awareness around debt and debt financing.
  • 01:10:58 Well, that can apply to lots of things.
  • 01:11:00 What can they do to be more engaged in health and in education?
  • 01:11:04 And I think that to engage in institutions
  • 01:11:07 and to help build stronger institutions,
  • 01:11:10 ones that, for example, as a starting point for a lot of countries
  • 01:11:14 is do you know which government officials have the authority to authorize debt
  • 01:11:19 or to commit the country to debt or the community?
  • 01:11:23 It works at really all levels of government.
  • 01:11:26 And so I think young people can be engaged, be educated
  • 01:11:29 about finance, about what's an interest rate.
  • 01:11:32 How does it work?
  • 01:11:34 And then how do you get involved in the institutions of your country, too?
  • 01:11:38 Because the goal is to have debt used in ways that really help development.
  • 01:11:44 So that means engaging, who makes the decisions
  • 01:11:49 on when there can be a debt contract.
  • 01:11:52 How did they decide what to invest in
  • 01:11:55 and how do you get good use out of all of that?
  • 01:11:57 I think there should be a lot of engagement.
  • 01:12:00 And that starts, frankly, with a lot of education
  • 01:12:03 about what are the goals of your country?
  • 01:12:07 How does it interact with health and education and climate?
  • 01:12:11 What you want as a nation.
  • 01:12:13 Those are all questions I think that are really important.
  • 01:12:16 So a lot of ways for youths to be proactive and education is key there.
  • 01:12:20 This next online question is about negative interest rates.
  • 01:12:23 This online viewer wants to know how do they work
  • 01:12:26 and can they be a solution for the world's poorest?
  • 01:12:30 Economists have been trying to figure that out.
  • 01:12:33 So for some years now there's been this question
  • 01:12:35 of why is inflation as low as it is
  • 01:12:38 given the amount of growth in central bank balance sheets.
  • 01:12:40 So these are questions that we probably can't resolve, figure out right now,
  • 01:12:46 but negative interest rates are, one way to think about them
  • 01:12:52 is they're the result of institutional success over 50 years
  • 01:12:58 where central banks and budgets of countries had some kind of discipline.
  • 01:13:04 And so then you get to the point
  • 01:13:06 where you can borrow at a very low interest rate
  • 01:13:09 or even a negative interest rate.
  • 01:13:11 The challenge with that is you get to do that,
  • 01:13:16 people get to do that once in a generation maybe
  • 01:13:19 because you're borrowing from future generations
  • 01:13:22 at a very low or a negative interest rate.
  • 01:13:25 And therefore that you're going to need to repay that debt.
  • 01:13:29 And so the country, or the borrowing authority
  • 01:13:33 sometimes it might be a municipality, even a city,
  • 01:13:37 needs to make really good use of the debt or of the borrowing
  • 01:13:43 because you're going to have to pay it back.
  • 01:13:44 And you don't get to do it over and over again.
  • 01:13:47 There'll be a period of years maybe
  • 01:13:49 where the world enjoys this super low interest rate.
  • 01:13:53 One challenge for development
  • 01:13:55 is the developing countries themselves don't get to fully participate in this.
  • 01:14:00 The interest rates have fallen for the advanced economies,
  • 01:14:03 but very few of the developing countries have gotten as much benefit from that.
  • 01:14:10 So there's an inherent unfairness in this,
  • 01:14:14 in that people that already had some national wealth
  • 01:14:18 are getting the low interest rate.
  • 01:14:20 And so that is I think a challenge, we want to address that as the World Bank
  • 01:14:25 with good practices in the developing countries,
  • 01:14:27 if there can be transparency, good choice of projects
  • 01:14:31 that can help the country get lower interest rates.
  • 01:14:37 Now this next question comes from Ngugi Irungu in Kenya,
  • 01:14:41 and he wants to know if there are models of financing public projects
  • 01:14:46 that ensure governments can repay debts comfortably?
  • 01:14:51 Emphasis on comfortably.
  • 01:14:53 So the way to do that
  • 01:14:55 is if you get a really good return from your project.
  • 01:14:58 So if I have a public private partnership or investment that's well chosen.
  • 01:15:05 And so Kenya has huge challenges with transportation and with agriculture.
  • 01:15:10 So choose projects that really have a payoff,
  • 01:15:14 then you can afford the debt service and do it comfortably.
  • 01:15:19 That gets into this institutional structure
  • 01:15:22 of how did you decide on the projects that your country wants to undertake?
  • 01:15:29 This gets into all these challenges of urban and city planning.
  • 01:15:33 World Bank is very involved in those because as cities get bigger and bigger,
  • 01:15:38 they need to make investments that will help people be able to get to work,
  • 01:15:42 do it in an environmentally friendly way,
  • 01:15:45 that will help people save time
  • 01:15:48 by not having to travel for hours and hours a day.
  • 01:15:53 One of the successful World Bank projects
  • 01:15:55 has been in cities where they have mountainous areas or bad roads into the city
  • 01:16:03 putting aerial tram car or some kind of mass transit
  • 01:16:07 and can really help people get to work in fewer hours per day.
  • 01:16:12 And that saves them.
  • 01:16:14 So how do you create a public-private investment
  • 01:16:18 that can do the right things at the time that it's needed?
  • 01:16:21 These are challenges, we call them, or I think of them as governance challenges.
  • 01:16:27 Do you have a city council that makes good decisions?
  • 01:16:31 Who's involved? How do they disclose what the decision...
  • 01:16:35 You know, a big part of this, I think is the transparency that's needed
  • 01:16:40 so that people know how did a decision get made
  • 01:16:44 and what was the evidence, what was the basis for the decision?
  • 01:16:49 That can really help get us to good decision making.
  • 01:16:52 Sure, this is actually a great segue into my next and last question,
  • 01:16:56 which is about debt transparency.
  • 01:16:57 So one of our online viewers says,
  • 01:17:00 "debt transparency is obviously critical for impact,
  • 01:17:02 but COVID-19 has changed that, and how has it changed it
  • 01:17:06 and how can we overcome this huge economic and financial hurdle
  • 01:17:10 as we look to recover?"
  • 01:17:14 Yeah, so one of the challenges working from home,
  • 01:17:18 and that's happening in countries around the world
  • 01:17:21 with different degrees of success.
  • 01:17:23 Some countries don't really have electricity access for a lot of the people.
  • 01:17:27 And so it's very hard to then be working from home.
  • 01:17:30 Also in the informal sector, a lot of workers are left out.
  • 01:17:34 They don't get a social safety net
  • 01:17:37 and there's not the concept of working from home.
  • 01:17:40 You have to be at the job.
  • 01:17:42 And so this has created challenges.
  • 01:17:46 So we think of them in the advanced economies
  • 01:17:50 as one of transparency or connectivity.
  • 01:17:54 How do you really get connected?
  • 01:17:56 I think for a lot of the poor countries, it's more of a survival question
  • 01:18:01 and nutrition, a food insecurity question that are very pressing needs.
  • 01:18:07 You know, one of the harmful aspects of the COVID crisis
  • 01:18:11 is kids getting left out of school
  • 01:18:13 because they fall backward in their education.
  • 01:18:16 They may not get the vaccinations that they need,
  • 01:18:19 that schools may have been one of the systems
  • 01:18:21 that gave them nutritious food during the day.
  • 01:18:26 And so these are all... so I think in terms of transparency,
  • 01:18:31 we can also add in digitalization or having data that helps countries
  • 01:18:38 and governments know where they need to put resources.
  • 01:18:42 World Bank works extensively in those areas of trying to have data and surveys
  • 01:18:47 that are meaningful to people in countries so that they can make progress.
  • 01:18:54 All that's been made harder by COVID.
  • 01:18:57 And so we, I think, need to really work urgently
  • 01:19:02 toward that recovery on the other side of COVID.
  • 01:19:06 Can I say a final word on vaccinations and transparency importance?
  • 01:19:10 Who's been able to get vaccinations?
  • 01:19:12 The World Bank has extensive programs.
  • 01:19:15 Now we'll have 50 countries with financing available for vaccines.
  • 01:19:19 And that means some system of keeping track of who's gotten vaccinated
  • 01:19:23 so that people aren't mistakenly getting vaccinated twice
  • 01:19:28 or more than they need to.
  • 01:19:30 But also how do you get full coverage
  • 01:19:32 to those people that want it, and that are most vulnerable?
  • 01:19:36 How do you do that?
  • 01:19:37 And that can be an aspect of digitalization and of transparency.
  • 01:19:43 Now COVID-19 has changed so much for us here, so it's really great to hear
  • 01:19:47 about how debt transparency is still a priority for us.
  • 01:19:50 David, with that I want to thank you so much for joining me here today.
  • 01:19:53 And for telling us more about the role debt can play
  • 01:19:55 in helping countries build a green, inclusive, and resilient recovery.
  • 01:19:59 Super, Sri, thank you and thanks, everybody.
  • 01:20:02 I'm glad people are interested in these topics.
  • 01:20:04 Absolutely, thank you.
  • 01:20:05 Thanks.
  • 01:20:08 [BRASÍLIA, BRAZIL] Hello everyone, I'm Mariana Serachi in Brasília, Brazil
  • 01:20:11 and you're watching the World Bank Group IMF Spring Meetings.
  • 01:20:17 [LIVE: WASHINGTON, DC] Now throughout these Spring Meetings,
  • 01:20:18 we're highlighting the voices and perspectives
  • 01:20:20 [FINANCING THE FUTURE: YOUTH VOICES] of youth leaders and thinkers around the world.
  • 01:20:23 For the past few weeks, we've been collecting video submissions
  • 01:20:26 from hundreds of young people.
  • 01:20:28 We ask them about the role that they and their peers
  • 01:20:30 could play in a resilient recovery.
  • 01:20:32 Today, we hear from Jin in Japan, Mapaseka in Lesotho,
  • 01:20:36 and Benjamin and Anthony, both from Nigeria.
  • 01:20:40 [HOW CAN YOUTH IN YOUR COUNTRY PARTICIPATE IN A RESILIENT RECOVERY]
  • 01:20:43 [FROM THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC?]
  • 01:20:45 [MAPASEKA MPHAHAMA, LESOTHO] I believe an establishment of a national youth council
  • 01:20:49 is a strategy for resilience recovery plan for COVID-19
  • 01:20:53 and national youth council is a platform for youth to be part
  • 01:20:57 of processes, decision making, and hold leaders accountable.
  • 01:21:01 [BENJAMIN ONYEMA, NIGERIA] For a resilient recovery from the pandemic,
  • 01:21:03 you should use your various social media platforms
  • 01:21:06 to promote good information about the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • 01:21:09 This will help to reduce vaccine hesitancy
  • 01:21:11 that is very common among the Nigerian population today.
  • 01:21:14 With massive broad vaccination coverage,
  • 01:21:16 we can begin to release our foot off the pedal
  • 01:21:19 of some of the intervention and restrictions, lockdown
  • 01:21:22 that is hurting directly or indirectly hurting the economy.
  • 01:21:25 [JIN TANAKA, JAPAN] I believe that young people can contribute
  • 01:21:28 in the new jobs created by public project and at building green infrastructure
  • 01:21:33 will lead to a resilient recovery.
  • 01:21:36 [ONUM ANTHONY, NIGERIA] Reach out to young people considering factors such as sex, age, and gender.
  • 01:21:41 Putting diversity at the center, leveraging the agency of young people
  • 01:21:45 in the context of information, technology, social media,
  • 01:21:49 and networking is the way to go.
  • 01:21:52 The youth will be able to advocate for implementation of policies
  • 01:21:56 that help women-owned businesses that have been affected to be resuscitated,
  • 01:22:02 policies that foster youth employment,
  • 01:22:05 policies that tackle technological gaps that are visible
  • 01:22:09 in rural communities that hinder education.
  • 01:22:13 We are in an era whereby a whole lot of jobs has gone obsolete
  • 01:22:16 and new ones are springing up.
  • 01:22:17 They are springing up with different new skill set requirements.
  • 01:22:20 The youth should endeavor to engage in skill acquisition
  • 01:22:23 that will make them more employable.
  • 01:22:25 This will help to reduce the high rates of unemployment in the country today.
  • 01:22:29 In addition to that, government should make credit facilities,
  • 01:22:32 loans easily accessible to the youth.
  • 01:22:34 This will encourage business startups and SMEs that will directly boost the GDP.
  • 01:22:39 Listen to young people.
  • 01:22:40 Young people of the 21st century have a language.
  • 01:22:44 It's necessary, crucial, and pertinent
  • 01:22:46 for governments across the world to ask the question,
  • 01:22:49 "what is the language of young people?"
  • 01:22:51 [#YOUTHONCOVID19]
  • 01:23:01 [VIENTIANE, LAO PDR] Sabaidi. Hello, I'm Naidalaine Manosa in Vientiane Lao PDR
  • 01:23:08 and you are watching the World Bank Group IMF Spring Meetings.
  • 01:23:15 And my colleague, Paul Blake now joins us
  • 01:23:16 in the World Bank Group headquarters.
  • 01:23:18 Paul let's talk polls.
  • 01:23:20 We've been running them all this week for each of our events
  • 01:23:22 so what was today's question?
  • 01:23:23 Yeah, that's right, we have a different poll each day.
  • 01:23:25 Today's poll is following the COVID-19 crisis,
  • 01:23:28 what is your biggest financial priority?
  • 01:23:31 And the options are save for the future,
  • 01:23:34 make wise investments, take out a loan, or pay off debts.
  • 01:23:37 And here's how everyone's voting.
  • 01:23:39 In first place, 55.8% of the vote goes to make wise investments.
  • 01:23:44 27.3% of the vote goes to save for the future, that's coming in second place.
  • 01:23:49 Third place is paying off debt, that's 11.8% of the vote.
  • 01:23:52 And finally taking out a loan,
  • 01:23:54 5.1% of folks say that is their biggest financial priority
  • 01:23:57 after the COVID-19 pandemic has abated.
  • 01:24:00 Okay, I was a bit surprised by that.
  • 01:24:03 I was a little surprised by it,
  • 01:24:04 although I would have thought paying off debts,
  • 01:24:05 but that's my own personal one.
  • 01:24:07 I've got some student loans that I need to pay off.
  • 01:24:10 [PAUL BLAKE; WORLD BANK GROUP] That'll be my priority for sure.
  • 01:24:11 I thought that would be a little higher up.
  • 01:24:12 I personally voted for save for the future.
  • 01:24:15 Which maybe I can argue that, I think that's making a wise investment.
  • 01:24:19 There's some overlap there, but yeah, it's good.
  • 01:24:21 I mean, if you save for the future,
  • 01:24:23 next crisis or anything that comes along, you'll have a little more cushion.
  • 01:24:27 Exactly, well, thanks for that, Paul.
  • 01:24:30 For sure.
  • 01:24:31 Now all this week, we've been speaking with country directors and managers
  • 01:24:34 [COUNTRY SPOTLIGHT ON INDIA] around the world on their climate challenges
  • 01:24:36 and the actions they've been taking in their countries.
  • 01:24:39 Today we head to India.
  • 01:24:40 It's from New Delhi that I spoke to country director Junaid Ahmad
  • 01:24:44 and I asked him what a resilient recovery looks like
  • 01:24:47 in the world's second most populous country.
  • 01:24:50 Paul, that's a very tough question you asked, but a very important one.
  • 01:24:54 [JUNAID KAMALAHMAD; COUNTRY DIRECTOR, INDIA] I think there are two aspects to what a resilient recovery looks like.
  • 01:24:58 One is first, we recognize that India is a federal system
  • 01:25:02 with states in size as big as Brazil and Nigeria and Germany.
  • 01:25:07 So any recovery has to be about a state recovery,
  • 01:25:11 and indeed the future of India lies in the states of India.
  • 01:25:14 But the biggest story that's coming out of India
  • 01:25:17 is how it's completely changing the social protection system.
  • 01:25:21 We're in a world of shocks.
  • 01:25:23 There's going to be more shocks in the future,
  • 01:25:24 whether it's climate shocks, pandemics, income shocks
  • 01:25:28 and countries have to begin to protect not only its poor and vulnerable,
  • 01:25:34 but also its workers against those shocks.
  • 01:25:36 And final point Paul, very, very important.
  • 01:25:39 The world's largest direct transfers to women-headed households.
  • 01:25:43 Three hundred million women-headed households
  • 01:25:46 get direct cash transfers, especially during shocks.
  • 01:25:50 That's what a recovery will look like in the future.
  • 01:25:53 Strong social protection to protect the poor,
  • 01:25:56 the vulnerable, and the human capital of India.
  • 01:25:59 So it sounds like social protection
  • 01:26:01 is playing this sort of central role in the recovery.
  • 01:26:04 When the bank is working with India,
  • 01:26:06 is it also really putting priority on sustainability in the recovery?
  • 01:26:12 Absolutely.
  • 01:26:13 There's some very, very important news coming out of India.
  • 01:26:17 First, India will be one of the very few countries
  • 01:26:21 that will meet its NDC commitments that it made in Paris at COP26.
  • 01:26:27 In particular, the energy intensity is coming down.
  • 01:26:30 The level of support that you see from a green transition coming up.
  • 01:26:35 The fact that it'll keep its NDC,
  • 01:26:37 so that its contribution to less than two degrees centigrade,
  • 01:26:41 is big news for India, but that's not the only news.
  • 01:26:45 India is in the middle of some complex development transitions.
  • 01:26:49 These are transitions in the urban sector,
  • 01:26:51 in the energy sector, in the transport sector, the technology sector,
  • 01:26:55 and these are only few of the sectors.
  • 01:26:57 And as India succeeds in completing its development transitions,
  • 01:27:01 it will help the world secure its climate transition.
  • 01:27:04 That's how powerful the impact of India is globally.
  • 01:27:08 And for those of us who aren't as familiar with India
  • 01:27:10 and it's kind of development story.
  • 01:27:12 Talk to me about the significance of some of these transitions
  • 01:27:15 and in particular, talk to me about what it's going to take
  • 01:27:17 to invest in the next wave of transition.
  • 01:27:19 So both the significance now
  • 01:27:21 and also what the world needs to do to invest in India's greener future.
  • 01:27:27 I'll give you an example.
  • 01:27:28 Today one of the biggest underground metros in a city is in Delhi
  • 01:27:35 and it transports millions of people, you know.
  • 01:27:38 Delhi's is a city of about 18 to 20 million people and growing.
  • 01:27:42 And that underground metro is a major public transport system.
  • 01:27:48 Sixty percent of the energy of Delhi's metro
  • 01:27:54 is from a renewable park in Madhya Pradesh.
  • 01:27:58 A state hundreds of miles away.
  • 01:28:01 And the World Bank has helped Madhya Pradesh develop that renewable energy park.
  • 01:28:07 And the grid is transmitting that renewable energy
  • 01:28:10 into financing this transport system in India.
  • 01:28:13 Perhaps one of the most powerful ones, that I often refer to,
  • 01:28:17 India is one of the few countries in the world
  • 01:28:19 that can have a passenger railway system and a freight railway system.
  • 01:28:24 Australia, Canada, China are the other countries that have it.
  • 01:28:28 But why would such a parallel system matter?
  • 01:28:31 As I mentioned earlier, if you can move freight
  • 01:28:34 from road onto the freight rail corridor, you'll take I would say 30, 40%
  • 01:28:41 of the greenhouse gas emission from road transport
  • 01:28:45 and put it into electric freight transport.
  • 01:28:49 Those are the type of shifts that we're making.
  • 01:28:51 And here, too, the World Bank has invested in the freight corridor of India.
  • 01:28:57 The next one, this is going to be the hardest question
  • 01:28:58 you'll probably get all day and it's about you.
  • 01:29:01 I want to know what's the best part of your job
  • 01:29:03 and what inspires you in your work?
  • 01:29:05 I wasn't expecting that question.
  • 01:29:08 Paul, we're very privileged to be working
  • 01:29:12 in a multilateral institution like the World Bank.
  • 01:29:15 It offers us a platform to make a difference in the world.
  • 01:29:19 And that I think is...
  • 01:29:21 perhaps the biggest source of inspiration all of us get.
  • 01:29:24 To be in India, which can make such a huge difference
  • 01:29:27 on climate change around the world, it is a privilege.
  • 01:29:31 If the World Bank did not exist today, we would have to recreate it.
  • 01:29:35 And that's why I say it's a privilege to be working in this institution.
  • 01:29:40 Some inspiring words.
  • 01:29:41 Junaid Ahmad, country director for India, thank you so much.
  • 01:29:44 Thank you.
  • 01:29:45 [KINGSTON, JAMAICA] Wah Gwaan. I'm Charmine Wright from Kingston Jamaica
  • 01:29:49 and you're watching the World Bank Group IMF Spring Meetings.
  • 01:29:54 [LIVE: WASHINGTON, DC] And now let's check in on the social media scene.
  • 01:29:56 Paul, what can you tell us about today's conversation?
  • 01:29:59 I've just been talking to our social media moderators,
  • 01:30:01 Who've been across the conversation throughout the day
  • 01:30:04 and they said that many people out there are reiterating online
  • 01:30:08 the need for comprehensive solutions that are green, resilient, and inclusive.
  • 01:30:12 We just had that conversation with World Bank Group president, David Malpass.
  • 01:30:15 And he talked a lot about the intersection between debt
  • 01:30:18 and finding these solutions.
  • 01:30:21 They've also told us, the moderators have told us,
  • 01:30:23 that a lot of the conversation is happening
  • 01:30:25 in Nigeria, Kenya, India, Canada, Ghana, the UK,
  • 01:30:30 the Philippines, and Mexico.
  • 01:30:31 So hello to everyone out there in those countries
  • 01:30:33 and in other countries, really appreciate you taking part.
  • 01:30:36 [JOIN THE CONVERSATION: #DEBT4DEV] Yeah, that's great.
  • 01:30:37 And we also have some notable comments coming in on Twitter.
  • 01:30:41 Can you tell me about some of those mentions.
  • 01:30:43 For sure, we heard from Badruddeen Naseem.
  • 01:30:47 They are with the Maldives Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
  • 01:30:50 and they wrote in to say that learning more about debt financing
  • 01:30:53 and how countries can have a resilient recovery
  • 01:30:55 is the main reason they tuned in
  • 01:30:57 and what they were looking forward to hearing today.
  • 01:31:00 We also heard from Richard Watts, a senior advisor at Save the Children,
  • 01:31:03 who tweeted that the end of the debt service suspension initiative
  • 01:31:07 should be needs-based.
  • 01:31:08 And he's hoping to hear more new ideas,
  • 01:31:12 to get private creditors, to participate in debt relief efforts.
  • 01:31:15 We heard from Kevin Watkins earlier in the program,
  • 01:31:18 also at Save the Children there.
  • 01:31:19 [JOIN THE CONVERSATION: #DEBT4DEV] So if you missed that, be sure to watch it back, it was a great conversation.
  • 01:31:22 And we finally have Sani from Nigeria on Twitter,
  • 01:31:24 and he was saying, he's interested in A long-term overhaul
  • 01:31:26 to solve Africa's debt crisis.
  • 01:31:28 So great to see all this conversation on Twitter,
  • 01:31:31 but it's also happening on LinkedIn.
  • 01:31:32 So tell me a bit about what's happening there.
  • 01:31:35 For sure, we heard from Elizabeth Irungu.
  • 01:31:38 She is a financial analyst from Kenya.
  • 01:31:40 She commented that the uncertainty around eight to five jobs has been magnified
  • 01:31:43 by the pandemic, meaning kind of our everyday jobs.
  • 01:31:46 And she was saying that investing wisely
  • 01:31:48 will reduce overdependence on salary loans.
  • 01:31:50 We know how she probably voted in the poll, making wise investments,
  • 01:31:53 saving for the future like you there.
  • 01:31:56 And then we also heard from Akil, a senior accountant in Ethiopia,
  • 01:32:00 and they wrote that making wise investments is the best choice,
  • 01:32:03 especially for import dependent countries.
  • 01:32:05 So it really was the top vote.
  • 01:32:06 It does sound like it for sure.
  • 01:32:08 Well, we really love seeing all this conversation
  • 01:32:11 happening on our social platforms
  • 01:32:13 and hope it continues for the next couple of days,
  • 01:32:15 but now let's go to our second country spotlight.
  • 01:32:18 [COUNTRY SPOTLIGHT ON BENIN] And for this we're headed to Benin.
  • 01:32:20 That's right, and it's from the capital city of Porto-Novo
  • 01:32:22 that I recently spoke to country director, Atou Seck.
  • 01:32:25 And I started by asking him about the challenges
  • 01:32:27 that everyday Beninese face when it comes to climate and COVID-19.
  • 01:32:31 [ATOU SECK; COUNTRY MANAGER, BENIN] Benin's major challenge is job creation, decent job creation,
  • 01:32:39 access to education and health services,
  • 01:32:41 as well as water and electricity.
  • 01:32:45 So there are also climate related challenges,
  • 01:32:48 including coastal erosion and also deforestation
  • 01:32:53 that affect communities' livelihoods.
  • 01:32:56 You mentioned there some of the climate challenges.
  • 01:32:58 Can you talk to me about the West Africa Coastal Areas Management System,
  • 01:33:03 and specifically, I understand that Benin has a 121 kilometer-long coastline.
  • 01:33:09 How does the project, the Areas Management program affect that coastline?
  • 01:33:16 You may know that Benin coastal zone is extremely vulnerable.
  • 01:33:22 It is exposed to the highest risk of coastal erosion in the Gulf of Guinea.
  • 01:33:27 Erosion can reach up to 15 meters per year here.
  • 01:33:34 The country also is exposed to heavy rain and floods.
  • 01:33:39 So, for example, in 2018 there was a flood
  • 01:33:45 that would have affected 54 villages amongst the river, Mono river.
  • 01:33:53 So Waka provided funds for emergency protection work
  • 01:33:58 to stabilize the river bank.
  • 01:34:02 Thanks to which more than 25,000 vulnerable people
  • 01:34:08 living along the river were protected from being flooded.
  • 01:34:14 And I understand your climate portfolio, isn't limited to the coast.
  • 01:34:17 You're also doing work on Benin's timber resources.
  • 01:34:22 Can you tell us a little bit about that?
  • 01:34:23 Benin natural forest harvested in an uncontrolled manner.
  • 01:34:31 For timber but also for fuel wood.
  • 01:34:36 Eighty-five percent of the people, population depend on wood
  • 01:34:40 and charcoal for their cooking needs.
  • 01:34:44 And furthermore natural forests are harvested for timber,
  • 01:34:49 to make furniture or for export.
  • 01:34:53 As a result Benin lost over 215,000 hectares between 2016 and 2017.
  • 01:35:03 So to reduce this human pressure on natural forests,
  • 01:35:08 we finance the kind of forest management project
  • 01:35:13 that is investing in large scale forest plantation
  • 01:35:17 as an alternative to the use of natural forest for fuel wood and timber.
  • 01:35:23 The aim is to establish 22,000 hectares of fuel wood and timber plantation
  • 01:35:31 To contribute to the much needed wood energy demand
  • 01:35:35 in big cities, such as Cotonou, Abomey-Calavi, and Porto-Novo.
  • 01:35:41 Fantastic, and just to shift gears here a little bit,
  • 01:35:44 it's 2021, we're a year into the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • 01:35:47 I would be remiss if I didn't ask you about that
  • 01:35:49 and ask about the situation in Benin.
  • 01:35:52 Tell me what does a resilient recovery from COVID-19
  • 01:35:55 look like in the context of Benin?
  • 01:35:59 You must learn from this crisis
  • 01:36:01 and see it as an opportunity to build a better world.
  • 01:36:06 It has not been easy for any human being around the globe
  • 01:36:12 and even worse for the most vulnerable people.
  • 01:36:16 This is definitely a new world now,
  • 01:36:19 and we need to pay more attention to nature
  • 01:36:22 and be more careful with climate crisis.
  • 01:36:24 We have been alarmed how deforestation, for example,
  • 01:36:27 is bringing the wildlife closer to human beings
  • 01:36:31 and how we can work to avoid diseases such as COVID-19.
  • 01:36:38 So this is in my opinion, how sustainable recovery...
  • 01:36:42 What it will look like in the years to come.
  • 01:36:45 Just to wrap up on a lighter note, for those of us who might not be familiar
  • 01:36:49 with you or the country of Benin,
  • 01:36:51 talk to us about the best part of working there
  • 01:36:53 and what inspires you in your job.
  • 01:36:55 I'm really energized working daily with dedicated professionals in Cotonou
  • 01:37:02 and in the bank ecosystem and with clients.
  • 01:37:08 These people are working relentlessly.
  • 01:37:11 Every single bank or bank staff must keep in mind
  • 01:37:16 that our mission is to serve people.
  • 01:37:19 I feel privileged to lead such a talented team
  • 01:37:25 that is more virtual now and dedicated also.
  • 01:37:30 I think I would agree with you on that.
  • 01:37:31 I think part of the best part of working here is all the great people.
  • 01:37:35 But Atou Seck, country manager for Benin,
  • 01:37:37 thank you so much for taking the time this morning.
  • 01:37:39 Thank you very much, it was a pleasure having the conversation with you.
  • 01:37:44 [MONTELÍBANO, COLOMBIA] Hola, I am Jairo Hidoya in Montelíbano Columbia,
  • 01:37:46 and you're watching the World Bank Group IMF Spring Meetings.
  • 01:37:52 Well, it's time to wind down for the day,
  • 01:37:54 but before we say goodbye,
  • 01:37:55 Paul, what can folks expect tomorrow and the day after?
  • 01:37:57 So it's hard to believe, but two days down, two more to go.
  • 01:38:00 We're halfway through the public events of the Spring Meetings 2021.
  • 01:38:04 Tomorrow, the focus turns to climate
  • 01:38:07 and on Friday, the focus turns to vaccines.
  • 01:38:09 If anyone missed any of the programming yesterday,
  • 01:38:12 if you tuned in late today, or you want to watch anything back
  • 01:38:15 you can do so on the World Bank's YouTube channel.
  • 01:38:17 [JOIN US TOMORROW: LIVE.WORLDBANK.ORG] Be sure to subscribe while you're there.
  • 01:38:18 But all the events will be there including our live discussions
  • 01:38:22 that come off the back of them.
  • 01:38:24 And I should also mention that tomorrow's live discussion,
  • 01:38:27 you'll be moderating that
  • 01:38:28 with Mari Pangestu and Stephanie von Friedeburg all about climate.
  • 01:38:31 So get those questions in, live.worldbank.org.
  • 01:38:34 Get them in tonight, this afternoon.
  • 01:38:36 And we'll get some of these questions to Mari and Stephanie tomorrow.
  • 01:38:39 Yeah, I think it's gonna be a great conversation, looking forward to it.
  • 01:38:42 Thank you, Paul.
  • 01:38:43 Of course, thank you, Sri.
  • 01:38:44 And thank you everyone for joining us today,
  • 01:38:46 and please do join us tomorrow at 11:00 a.m., Washington, DC time
  • 01:38:50 for our event on climate.
  • 01:38:52 Until then goodbye.
  • 01:39:00 [UPBEAT MUSIC]

#EndAirPollution: For Blue Skies and Better Health in South Asia

Follow the event on Twitter #EndAirPollution

GO TO: SPEAKERS

With two million premature deaths annually, South Asia faces the world’s heaviest health toll from air pollution. People in South Asia lose about five years of life on average due to air pollution. These adverse health effects have high economic costs in terms of reduced labor productivity and foregone output, with annual welfare losses estimated at 10% of the region’s GDP.

This International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies, join us to examine the effects of poor air quality on people in South Asia and explore solutions that can help address key risks to health from air pollution. Our panel of policymakers, health experts, and clean-air advocates will explore innovative ways to protect the most vulnerable groups.

00:00 Explainer video

01:05 Welcome

- Moderator: Subina Shrestha, News Correspondent

04:05 Opening remarks

- Martin Raiser, World Bank Vice President for South Asia

10:18 Panel discussion

- Ayesha Nasir, Founder, Scaryammi
- Pema Gyamtsho, Director General, ICIMOD
- Arvind Kumar, Founder and Managing Trustee, Lung Care Foundation
- Maria Neira, Director, Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health, WHO

54:11 Closing remarks

- Valerie Hickey, Global Director, Environment, Natural Resources and Blue Economy, the World Bank

[Music] 

[Subina Shrestha]
Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening to everyone around the world, whoever is here joining us live for this World Bank event for blue skies and better health in South Asia. September 7th is the International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies. I'm Subina Shrestha, a filmmaker and a journalist from Nepal moderating this panel from sunny England, which is experiencing an Indian summer right now. What can I say? We have World Bank senior environmental specialist, Jostein Nygard, answering your questions on World Bank Live event page. So, if you have any burning questions, do reach out to Jostein and now let's all take deep breaths. But after that video, maybe you might be thinking, should we or should we not to breathe or not to breathe? That should never have been the question. And yet a quarter of the world's population, over 2 billion people, that's all of us in South Asia, are impacted by this daily struggle. The simple act of breathing for us is not that simple. Here we are, to discuss what air pollution is doing to our health and what we can do, stakeholders and partners to collectively work together towards a future where we no longer have to think before we take a deep breath. We have with us a panel of global and regional experts, including Dr. Arvind Kumar, Indian lung specialist or a clean lung advocate, seeing the damage done by rising air pollution levels firsthand in the lungs of his patients. He's been trying to get the attention of all stakeholders globally as he's doing here, right now. Dr. Pema Gyamtsho, so the director general of ICIMOD, the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development based in Kathmandu. ICIMOD is a regional and intergovernmental learning and knowledge sharing center serving countries of the Hindu Kush Himalaya region, including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, and Pakistan. Ayesha Nasir, who is having an internet moment, and she will be joining us shortly.She's a founder of Scaryammi or Scary mums, Pakistan's largest and most engaged digital parenting platform. Its members are fast becoming most engaged in the battle against air pollution due to the rising concerns about the harms done to children's health and lung development. And Dr. Maria Neira, Director of Climate, Environment and Health at the World Health Organization hopefully is going to join us later in the second half of this program as she's in between airport transfers. But before we get started with this panel, I will turn you over to Dr. Martin Raiser, regional Vice President for South Asia for his opening remarks. Martin, over to you.

[Martin Raiser]
Thank you so much Subina, and welcome to everybody online from Washington DC which is terribly hot. It actually feels more like July than Indian summer, but I want to welcome you all today, and in particular, online audience in South Asia and around the world. And I want to say that we're really, really happy to be doing this event jointly with ICIMOD and WHO, two longstanding and excellent partners of ours in addressing the impact of air pollution and climate change in our region. You saw a video just now with some alarming statistics on the health impact of air pollution in South Asia. Let me just summarize some of the most salient facts. We have 2 million premature deaths annually in the region, and that makes the region the world's most affected by air pollution. On average, people in South Asia lose about five years of life expectancy due to air pollution through disability, premature deaths from lung disease and cancer, as well as cardiovascular disease and hypertension. This tremendous health toll not only exerts a huge human cost but has high economic implications too. We estimate that annual losses from reduced labor productivity and forgone output because people are sick, could be as high as 10% of the region's gross domestic product. And the same urban, domestic and industrial sources of air pollution, which are having these immediate health effects are also key drivers of climate change, which as I don't need to tell anybody in South Asia is profoundly affecting the region and our planet through extreme heat events, droughts, flooding, and other extreme weathers. Black carbon emitted by dirty cook stoves, brick kilns, and vehicles for instance, is exacerbating the melting of Himalayan glassiers as ICIMOD has, I think amply proven in many excellent pieces of research, which are the region's water storage tanks. And this puts downstream farmers at risk because they rely on regular water flow from the glacier melt to irrigate their fields in the dry season. So, the impact of air pollution and associated activities is multifaceted, and we really need to act now. Now, happily across the region, public awareness and demand for change have been growing steadily. Policymakers are increasingly aware of the health, climate and economic consequences of air pollution. Our new president, Ajay Banga has reinforced the World Bank's commitment to support poverty reduction on the livable planet. And that certainly for us in South Asia includes tackling air pollution. So, to accelerate progress, we've recently launched the Indo-Gangetic Plain and Himalayan Foothills Air Quality Management Program. That's a long word, but it's essentially an attempt to bring together all of the countries in the Indo-Gangetic Plain, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Pakistan to work together to reduce and ultimately eliminate the scourge of air pollution. We're making resources available to these four countries for national catalytic activities in two key areas. The first, to strengthen air quality monitoring, planning, governance and enforcement. And the second, to support air pollution abatement interventions targeted at the main sources of air pollution, including cleaner mobility, cleaner manufacturing, cleaner agriculture, and the reduction of burning of forests, agricultural residue and wastes. Internationally, we have evidence that air pollution can be reduced in less than a decade. London in the 1960s, Mexico City in the 2000s and more recently, several of the big cities in China, including Beijing, where I've spent four years before moving to Washington, have dramatically reduced air pollution in less than a decade. South Asia can emulate these achievements. Now, to accelerate progress at reasonable costs, regional cooperation will be key, and the reason is that air pollution does not respect borders and emissions from one country or municipality travel to neighboring territories. So, we have done some modeling and a lot of micro analysis, and it indicates that the costs of reducing air pollution fall by 45% if countries, states and cities work together to achieve better air quality. So, let me close by reassuring you that the World Bank will be with everybody committed to achieving cleaner and healthier air for the region. Let us do it together. With that, let me go back to you Subina and our panel of global and regional experts, and I'm really looking forward to hearing from all of them about the challenges, but also, the potential solutions in greater detail. Thank you very much for joining us.

[Subina Shrestha]
Thank you ever so much, Martin. So, one thing I noticed while I was living in Kathmandu and I lived in Kathmandu for most of my life and I gave birth to my kids there, my daughter from infancy, had constant ear infection, coughing fits and chest infections. And from infancy to the age of eight, we were in and out of hospitals and the doctor said it was air pollution related. For the past three years I've been in the UK, and lo and behold, we haven't had that issue. And the other thing that happened, which really made me think about air pollution was that my non-smoker grandmother who hated the smell of cigarettes, well guess what? She died off besides old age. The doctor said it was lung cancer. Dr. Kumar, this question goes to you. You work with children and you have seen their lungs first-hand. It must be really hard. Can you tell us more about what you see? What is this polluted air doing to our children's lung? Was it random that young and old people are getting lung diseases at this rate? How bad is it? Sorry, you're muted.

[Arvind Kumar]
Thank you Subina, and my sincere thanks to World Bank for organizing this very, very important Zoom seminar on a topic which actually will determine the future of us and more importantly, the future of our children. Coming to your question, Subina, I'm a chest surgeon working in New Delhi, and I've been operating on people's chests for over 30 years now. So therefore, as a part of my surgery process, I've had the occasion to look at lungs of thousands of people over a 30 year period. And I have seen a sea change in the color of lungs of people. So, this air pollution and health, air pollution is primarily a health issue. You ask about the effect of children, but I would go a step back and I say the bad effect of air pollution does not wait for us to be born. It actually starts even before we are born. There is evidence now that mothers, pregnant mothers who are in polluted cities, when they breathe polluted air, the pollutants go to the fetus through the placenta and they cause damage ranging from congenital defects to intrauterine breath. And this is amply proof by international studies that it so happens. So, the damage starts within the fetus, within the uterus of the mother. When a child is born, the air that he or she breathes is the same ambient air. So, if your PM 2.5 is about 200, 250, which is the average in most of the cities in South Asia, that child is also breathing the same air, which is equal to 10, to 12 to 15 cigarettes. So, I dare say that in polluted cities, the newborns start smoking figuratively from the very first breath of their life. And that's why we see the impact on newborns, on toddlers, on children, and it goes into the adulthood, as you rightly said, your daughter used to get this problem. I see this every day in my practice in Delhi. Now, a nebulizer has become an ubiquitous part of every household which has children. When I was a child, I never heard this term nebulizer, but today, every child, when they start getting breathless, they then still say, “oh, I'm going to get nebulizer.” It's become so common here, and I think it's very dangerous. It's risky as they grow older, they get asthma, they get black deposits on lungs, there is a high incidence of cancers in children. And when we go into adulthood, there is tuberculosis, there is interstitial lung disease, and most importantly the dreaded lung cancer. Let me tell you that 30 years back when I started as lung cancer surgeon, I would see 95% of patients to be smokers. But today, 50% of my patients are so called non-smokers, I use the word so-called because I believe that in a polluted country there is no true non-smoker. Everybody is a smoker, but 50% of patients are non-smokers, so called. Why is this happening? Because of air pollution exposure. We are seeing it at a younger age in females as much as in males and in non-smokers. Other than that, everybody feels that pollution only affects the respiratory system. Well, Subina respiratory system is the entry point, but once it goes into lungs, it goes into the blood and from brain to toe, there is no organ system in the body. So, our central nervous system, cardiovascular system, including the heart and the blood vessels, the liver, the bones, the intestines, the reproductive system, there is no system in the body which is spared. And that's why we are seeing the high incidence of hypertension in children. We are seeing obesity in children, we are seeing diabetes in children, and there is scientific evidence now that all these are because of exposure to air pollution. So, if I was to summarize Subina, it starts affecting us even before we are born. Oh, thank you Subina for that message that I can take more time. I was trying to wind up in my five minutes allotted to me. I'm very particular about time. Thank you so much. So, what I want to convey, and this aspect, Subina unfortunately has not been conveyed. Until now, even doctors when I spoke to everybody looks at air pollution as an environmental issue “Oh yeah, it causes foggy air.” No, it's a pure health issue. It's ruining our health. It's ruining the health of our children. It starts impacting before we are born. It starts affecting from the very first breath, and the impact continues till the last breath.It causes lung diseases, it causes premature hypertension in children. It causes cerebral problems. There is now evidence that it reduces the IQ development, it reduces lung development, it causes childhood pneumonia and cancer, and it causes numerous other problems. The most dreaded, which I see, is very high increasing incidence of lung cancer. So overall, it's ruining our health, it's causing disease, it's causing disability, and it's causing large number of pre-mature deaths. It's a major cause of morbidity and mortality, and we must address this issue with the seriousness, which it deserves. Thank you. Over to Subina.

[Subina Shrestha]
Thank you so much, Dr. Kumar. I mean this is such a scary thing and a lot of citizens are very concerned. This question goes to Dr. Pema. I mean, you represent a regional and intergovernmental organization. How concerned are governments in the region? How much do they prioritize and have they really started to act upon it? Could you unmute yourself please?

[Pema Gyamtsho]
Yeah. Hey, can you hear me? Hey, thank you very much Subina, and thank you World Bank for organizing this webinar on this very, very important topic. After listening to Martin and Dr. Arvind Kumar, I was wondering why access to clean air is not at the same level as access to food and access to clean drinking water. Have not seen that her in our discourses or documentations. There is really a big need after listening to Dr. Arwin Kuer discourse, one could really appeal that this is a very, very serious issue and Dr. Martin Raiser has laid out the seriousness of the problem in this region that our lives are cut by at least five years in terms of our life expectancy. So probably, I would like to say we know that our countries in the region are also doing their best. They're taking measures now. There is a massive movement to clean energy transitions. For example, Bangladesh has set a target of generating 40% energy from renewable resources by 2041 and has plans to reach 30% of electric vehicle penetration by 2030. It has also adopted zigzag technology in firing brick kilns one of the main sources of pollutants in our region, and it has already achieved almost 80% by 2021. Bangladesh also has set a target to use 100% of known fire bricks in all government constructions by 2025. These are very, very encouraging. And also, as part of this nationally determined contribution. Bangladesh has plans to unconditionally reduce 3.39 million tons of CO2 emissions from road transport by 2030. Now, let's go to Bhutan. Bhutan is also part of the Indo-Gangetic Himalayan Foothill nexus. And while it doesn't pollute much, it is also at the receiving end of most of the pollution that drips across the borders. Bhutan has pleased to remain carbon neutral at all times, and it is constitutionally mandated to protect the forest cover and to maintain at least 60% of the forest cover at all times. Now, Bhutan has managed to switch to green electricity, almost all provided electricity, a hundred percent electrification in all the households already through hydroelectricity. So, it is however, also suffering from all the hills of air pollution like our neighboring countries. Bhutan is also placed to go for electric vehicles as early as possible by importing at least 1000 electric vehicles per year and replacing all the taxis and public passenger vehicles. Of course, we have heard from Dr. Martin the tremendous progress made by China. A few years ago, we used to listen to news about residents getting oxygen backs in Beijing, but now we don't see that. China has made tremendous progress and according to the report from this on the Air Quality Life Index from the Energy Policy Institute of the University of Chicago, China 20 years ago had some of the worst air quality in the world. But after 2013, it has managed to actually reduce air pollution by over 42%. And this report goes on to say that the Chinese citizen now can expect to leave 2.2 years longer. So, there's remarkable achievement and I think there's room for other member countries to learn from their good practices and policies. Now, India is also taking so many steps to reach reduce pollution. It has plans to produce 12,000 megawatts of energy through the development of solar parks and ultra mega solar power projects. I think you would've heard about that. India also intends to face our all-commercial fleets operated on fossil fuels and replace them with alternate fuels in every city and aims to reach 30% coverage by electric vehicles by 2013. Now, the government of India has also directed that all brick kilns should adopt this exact technology or vertical shock, all use piped natural gas for firing brick kilns. India's NDC, Indians will reduce the emission intensity of its GDP by 33% to 35% by 2030 from the 2005 level and increase the share of non-fossil fuel-based electricity to 40% by 2030. So over and above that, India has instituted the National Green Hydrogen Mission, and the National Clean Air Program, and is clearly on a better footing to address air pollution. Now, we come to Nepal, our host country. And so now you have already mentioned quite a lot. The situation about Nepal is also gearing up with a lot of initiatives on various forms to take away pollution. The national, actually, just to remind ourselves, the national annual average PM 2.5 has over around 50 micrograms per cubic meter, but on some days the air quality has been that we experienced up to 500 micrograms per cubic meter. So that is really, really bad. I'm sure Dr. Kumar would be shocked to hear that. Nepal has also plans to expand clean energy generation from hydropower. Hydropower plants up to 15,000 megawatts by the year 2030. So, Pakistan also we would've heard that has taken many, many initiatives. It has established electric systems, clean energy systems in about 7,000 villages. It has also transitioned to zigzag and clean technologies in this brick manufacturing sector. In provinces like Punjab, almost the entire brick industry is now switching over to zigzag and clean energy technology. In conclusion, I would like to say that all the countries in the region are very much aware now of the problems of air pollution and they're doing whatever they can. But I think the biggest requirement is investment, investment, investment. So investment for infrastructure, investment for capacity building of institutions, and also, technology transfer. If we can do that, I think the region is only close to have clean air blue skies. Thank you. Over to you Subina.

[Subina Shrestha]
Thank you very much. Ayesha, I'm going to go to you now. I love the name Scaryammi. As a dazy mother myself, I can totally empathize with the name and what you're getting at. Just as a background, Ayesha told me that the platform initially shared a dazy silent parenting, which has its own unique quirks. Can you please tell me a little bit more about the motivations behind Scaryammi and the actions that you have taken on air pollutions and what you've achieved because you have achieved quite a lot.

[Ayesha Nasir]
Yes, thank you. Thank you so much for having me, and thank you to the World Bank for organizing this. So, I was in Pakistan. We were stuck in a very unique situation where especially in the Punjab, we don't really have the environmental minister, the climate minister, embracing the enormity of this challenge. In 2019, the climate minister went on record saying that smog and air pollution is just a conspiracy. So, when you are faced with such a situation, it was really up to the mothers to kind of take action. And the reason mothers began getting involved is because right before Covid-19, so 2017, 16 and 18, we began seeing a huge increase in the number of children who were being admitted to government hospitals and private hospitals for chest infections, for asthma, for upper respiratory tract infections. And there were increased numbers of children who could no longer go to school because their health condition just wouldn't allow it because breathing problems was on the rise, asthma, all these infections were on the rise. So that's when a lot of mothers began talking to me about “What can we do? What can be done in this session? Can we maybe talk to the schools?” At that time, I got together mothers under the initiative called Ammis Against Smog, and instead of going to the Ministry, Climate Change Ministry, they were really not even convinced that this was a problem. We went to the education ministry, which was a unique approach we took, which paid off. The education minister, when we showed him the numbers, the figures got doctors on board, got activists on board, and he realized the enormity for the first time ever in the history of Pakistan. I don't know what the other countries, in 2018, the first ever smog legislation was passed whereby a lot of things were done. Like for example, outdoor sports were stopped in the crucial months of October to December. Air purifiers were mandated, masks were mandated, smog sessions were mandated. And so, I personally conducted about 119 sessions educating mothers about what is smog and what do you do? So that was the motivation. The motivation was that our children were falling sick and we were able to find a loophole with the Ministry of Education. So that Ammis legislation was historic in what it achieved. Hello, Subina?

[Subina Shrestha]
Thank you. I thought you were going to continue with… 

[Ayesha Nasir]
I can talk about this for as long as you want. I just wanted to be mindful of time. So just to update, so this happened back in 2018 and then we were putting into play mandatory carpooling and also, mandatory Euro 5 compliant fields and all these things. And then Covid-19 happened, which really, really sidelined our efforts and hijacked it because all the ministries are like, “What are you talking about? We are trying to just keep the country alive.” So that is, I don't know if other efforts in other countries were affected, but in Pakistan, Covid-19 and then the political instability and inflation and dollar repeat devaluation of all kind of pushed air pollution to the site. But I'm hoping this year to really galvanize the government once again to start where we stopped.

[Subina Shrestha]
Thank you so much. I'm sure it's going to be with the amount that you've already managed to achieve. I'm sure you'll manage more and it's going to be quite exciting to see what you will end up doing. Trust. I'm now going to go to Dr. Maria. Thank you so much for being with us right after landing and with all your busy schedule. Thanks. Thanks so much. Can you give us a brief summary of the global context of health impacts from air pollution and why are the air pollution levels in South Asia, in particular, so concerning, why should we be so concerned?

[Maria Neira]
Thank you. And it's really an immense pleasure to be with you and an honor because everybody around this table such a role. I'm looking at my friend Dr. Kumar, who did an amazing job with his famous lungs that we are using everywhere to convince people, the moms, the moms for fighting for the clean air, and of course, the colleagues from the World Bank organizing this and the others around this table. Thank you very much. Things have been changing. The global situation is, let's put the figures on the table. I think we all know this horrible figure of 7 million premature deaths. If you look at your region in Asia, IT will be two million. But in addition to the death, which is already horribly dramatic, we need to keep in mind that we are talking about chronic diseases and we are talking about chronic diseases that will take a lot of the quality of life and the cost for the health systems as well. So, several things. The WHO considered this as one of the biggest public health emergencies we are facing right now. It’s affecting, as you well know, every organ in our body. And the most dramatic thing is that every day, every single day, we have new scientific evidence, papers published demonstrating even more and more damage caused by the exposure to this air pollution, these pollutants that are produced. Several things. One, in few weeks now we are going to COP28. Air pollution and climate are very, very much overlapping. I am sure I don't need to explain you why we need to all look at reducing emissions as one way to reduce the negative consequences of climate change. But at the same time, one of the immense very good benefits will be the reduce reduction of air pollution. Second, we need to have a look, a very careful look at legislation. Maybe the air quality guidelines of WHO can go as far as, at least I know that mandatory is legally binding is maybe a dream, but at least making sure that the governments will be very serious about that. Third, mayors can be our first and very important supporters on this fight against air pollution. And of course, all the interventions on industry on there and pushing for this transition to clean sources of energy, pushing for a better planning and design of our urban environments will be very good. And of course, we need to keep doing evidence monitoring. We need to make sure that everybody has a way to monitor the quality of the air they breathe every day. And by doing that, understanding the health consequences, the economic consequences, and of course putting a lot of pressure on their politicians. We are moving. It's true. But this is still something that in terms of non-communicable diseases, for instance, we need to reach out more to the community of non-communicable diseases, join forces as the AIDS community or the tobacco community. Tobacco against tobacco community did years ago. This is the biggest battle of public health because on tobacco we had one enemy, which is very strong, but one, but here the conflict of interest and the different commercial sectors that will be involved are many. But if we use the health argument, I think we are going to win on all of that. Or at least, I'm very, very much convinced. One scoop, if you allow me. To celebrate a cleaner day, you will be the first one to hear officially that next year in October in Ghana, we will have the second global conference on air pollution and health. And of course, your role is absolutely fundamental. We need to join forces because the conference will be exclusively about solutions and why we have obstacles and what are the ways to go around those obstacles. What is the financing we need? And on that, I'm sure the World Bank will be extremely helpful and we need to create a big global fund to fight with air pollution. Just landed, but I will stop here, as the previous speaker, I could go for four hours, but I want to hear from others. This is so exciting. Thank you so much.

[Subina Shrestha]
We are going to come back to you again and I hope this kind of massive Goliath is going to be won over. Now, we've heard from all the speakers, air pollution harms us, it impacts us physically and mentally right from the beginning, before we are born. It is a slow poison. And yet this is not a health sector problem. It's not a problem that the health sector alone can solve. It's not a sector that environmental alone can solve. We all know that it needs an intersectoral and intergovernmental coordination. And then there is, of course, as Maria just said, there's a question of markets. Priorities have to be set. So, say you are a decision maker or say an advisor to the prime minister or a minister of transportation or industry or energy, and you have to work with limited budgets. What would be the first practical and achievable actions that you would take? So, these are some of the questions that I'm just going to throw to you. And if you can just be brief within a couple of minutes, two or three minutes, that'd be great. My first question goes to Dr. Kumar, what actions would you advise to ministers in South Asia to prioritize in the fight against air pollutions? I mean, we are at the doorstep of G 20 as well. I mean, maybe throw a suggestion for them as well.

[Arvind Kumar]
Yeah, thank you, Subina. The first thing I would do is to convince them that it's as major and challenging a health problem as Covid-19 was because every year air pollution is killing more people than Covid-19 killed in its entire period. So, we need to, and the world needs to respond to air pollution in the same way that we responded to Covid-19. That's the first thing I would tell them. Covid-19 caused death immediately, directly. Air pollution causes slow death, indirect death, and hence does not get the attention we need to clarify this myth. That's the first thing I would do. And then there are five requests I'll make to that minister to do himself or to talk to his ministers quickly, starting from the lowest hanging fruit in India. And I'm sure it must be same in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal. Construction sites and roadside dust is a major addition to particulate matter and it's the lowest hanging fruit, which can be sorted by addressing with the municipal corporations of the respective cities. One thing, I will ensure that they take care of the test. Number two, burning, whether it is double burning in our agriculture sector, it is not of garbage burning, which happens in millions of streets across the country. Brick manufacturing, Dr. Pema mentioned about zigzag, but most of the places they still don't. I would enforce that these burnings, which add to the fumes, they are reduced or removed. Number three, I'll address the transport sector, reduce the number of vehicles, educate people to reduce the number of kilometers run per vehicles and shift to EVs as fast as possible. Number four, I'll address the energy sector. Let's work to reduce the demand. Number two, let’s put electrostatic precipitators in the existing coal plants, and then move lock, stock and barrel to fossil fuel free cleaner energy based plants. And lastly, political will. Political will, political will. So, this is DBTEP, dust burning transport sector, energy sector, political bill, DBTEP. Thank you. I finished in three minutes.

[Subina Shrestha]
DBTEP, everyone shall remember that DBTEP and this question, Dr. Ayesha, as you're a doctor, as a mother and a civil society activist, what advice do you have for the government on actions to prioritize? Because you have actually made a significant progress and you could also perhaps suggest other activists from other countries. How do they learn from your group?

[Ayesha Nasir]
Well, firstly, I would try and convince the climate minister to listen to the mothers of the country because they seem to know a little bit more about air pollution. But jokes aside, the first thing. So, my response to Dr. Arvind is AMMI, A-M-M-I, with A being awareness, because I feel, especially in Pakistan, they're really amongst the political, in and amongst the politicians and the government officials. There's very little awareness for what this is like. I still hear comments from people in power like, “this is not an issue” or “this is an issue for the rich,” or “this is a conspiracy,” it’s something that has publicly been said by climate ministers and environmental officials in the country. So, obviously A will be the first, that awareness, so that once and for all the government realizes, and the bureaucrats, they just need to be educated and made aware that this is really a real issue that's affecting the lives. The second would be for M, it's definitely more car sharing. So, when we did analysis and when you look at the statistics of urban cities in Pakistan, the highest levels of smog are also in school months. And the highest times are pickup and drop off times of schools. A very simple solution is simply for schools to impose more car shares, more bus shares. Right now, if one car, one student is the norm, and with 40,000 private schools per city, you can imagine the numbers that it's leading to. And the third would be more imposition of the Euro 5 compliant fuels. So, the government in Pakistan did try, it was a half, it was a feeble effort. They've tried to impose cleaner fuels, they've tried to put embargoes on Euro 2 compliant fuels. But those are not… 

Subina Shrestha]
I think we have… we are losing Ayesha. I think there, we've lost Ayesha, but I think we kind of got the idea. Are we back? Yeah… 

[Ayesha Nasir]
Sorry, I was saying something.

[Subina Shrestha]
No, we lost you in the middle and you were talking about the Euro compliancy.

[Ayesha Nasir]
Yeah, so I said more of a political will to ensure that we have cleaner fuels. So, the government did try in Pakistan, both at the federal level and provincial level to impose Euro 5 compliance to put an embargo on Euro 2 fuels. But that really, really hasn't happened. And that's, I feel, one of the biggest issues. And the last would really be an intent to… the most affected in Pakistan are the children. And it's really sad. And overall, I feel like Dr. Arvind was saying, the children being born today, the moms who are pregnant, the children who are under five, research has shown that they're losing 10 years of their lives. If your child, I have two kids under five. For me, it's also a personal battle. Those children are losing 10 years. So, one thing that we are trying to lobby to the schools, which is really an intent to restructure the school year so that summers are not off because in Pakistan, the small months, the worst months are October to March. We are trying to restructure, the holidays are moved to the winter summers, maybe different schools give holidays at different times. So, not everybody has summers off and not everybody has winters off. So really… 

[Subina Shrestha] 
I think we've lost… 

[Ayesha Nasir]
…solution. But I say this to everything in Pakistan, the solution are educated moms.

[Subina Shrestha]
Thank you very much, Ayesha. I think like Ayesha said, everyone can organize. And there was a question that how can citizens be encouraged to be more involved in reducing air pollution? And that's exactly what Ayesha and her team are doing. And you've just heard what can be done. Martin earlier said that air pollution knows no border between countries and states. And this has also been proven by studies. Now, Dr. Pema, can you tell us more about cross border and regional actions and solutions that need immediate action?

[Pema Gyamtsho]
Thank you, Subina. I think now it is a given fact that pollution is transboundary. It doesn't stop at our borders. The source of the pollution could be thousands of miles away, but the impact could be felt elsewhere. So, we really need an airshed management approach, just like we do watershed. Airshed management approach is that is what now the Bank and ICIMOD are embarking up on to address this severe air pollution in the Indo-Gangetic Plain and Himalayan Foothills. Now, there is a lot of need. I think one of the major sources of air pollution in the cities is of course transport. In Kathmandu we have thousands of motorcycles, for example, and thousands of taxis and so on. So, there needs to be a lot more investment in the public transport sector using clean energy. And I think that would really solve a lot of air pollution issues. But in the mountains, we should not forget the indoor air pollution. People still use fuel or even animal dung, right? Dungs for cooking. So, Nepal has actually an ambitious plan of supplying about half a million electric cooktops, and for those kinds of things you need in investment. Now, already we have some good experience in terms of sharing good practices and in the brick kiln that I shared, we have linked brick sector, the private sector of Nepal with Pakistan. And there was this business-to-business learning. And now this is being taken to the other countries, Bangladesh and as well as in India. The other area that we are now embarking upon is really to bring the countries together to discuss. So, we have managed in the past, also, to bring, for example, the two Punjab together in a webinar to discuss about the task boundary air pollution and find out solutions, the source, identifying the source, and also, how we can tackle the pollution head source. And it needs a combined effort. So, there's a lot of need to increase data collection, increase the monitoring ability, and also to exchange good practices. The Bank and we have been successful in organizing a workshop last year where we brought the countries together, the regional countries together and endorse their roadmap. Now, this roadmap clearly spells out what is needed to cooperate in monitoring the air quality. And it also talks about how we can share good practices and policies by holding annual science policy dialogue among the member countries of the Indo-Gangetic Plain and Himalayan Foothills. Now, ICIMOD has been actively engaged in setting up monitoring stations in at least four countries, in Bhutan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Nepal. Hopefully, we'll be able to also work together with our government partners to not only set this up, but also assist in continuing the monitoring program monitoring. This is something that we need to continue. Also, we are in the process of enhancing regional cooperation by working towards the formation of Hindu Kush Himalayan council. Now, this is something that we have been doing in the last two and a half years. We have been working on coming up with a mechanism to enhance regional cooperation because one country cannot solve this issue, solve this problem alone. So, if you want to have blue skies, clean air, all the whole Indo-Gangetic Plain and Himalayan Foothills, these countries need to come together. And all of us, I think have a very important role to play. I'll stop here, Subina. Thank you.

[Subina Shrestha]
Thank you, Dr. Pema, and good luck for all your work and bringing all these countries together. Dr. Maria, do we still have Dr. Maria?

[Maria Neira]
Yes, here I am.

[Subina Shrestha]
Yes, excellent. You've served in the government of your home country in Spain, and in WHO you interact regularly with leaders from all over the world looking from Europe to South Asia region. What lessons do you see for them as the most important first step?

[Maria Neira]
I think if you allow me, I will endorse all the measures that have been recommended by the previous speakers. Can you hear me?

[Subina Shrestha]
Yes. I'll re endorse… 

[Maria Neira]
Yes, I'll re endorse, just adapting maybe each of them to the different realities of the countries. But all of the previous measures describe it are absolutely a hundred percent important. But Dr. Kumar mentioned the importance of the political will. And if we want to convince a politician, we want to give them something in return. So, since we are playing with slogans here, I will go for a slogan, going to politician in telling them, zero pollution equals multiple votes for you. And I will tell them how they can optimize this reduction on their air pollution, on gaining the support of their citizens and eventually for them to vote them. I will tell them a very simple scenario with data, making sure that they will understand what their quality standards that they have in the country, or the lack of air quality standard, means so many lives, how many lives they could save. And we can help them to maybe communicate that back to the population, for them to have a good image. Obviously, if it's true, if they are reducing the levels of pollution, not just for a greenwash in terms of air pollution. So, we need to have politicians on our side and for that we need to convince them that air pollution is affecting our health dramatically. But they can be good leaders if they apply certain measures, and we will help them to go around the lack of popularity that certain measures will have by giving back to the citizens the very good positive impacts that we are having on their health. And I think another important measure I will do, and this is from my experience in Spain when I was at the government, is calling for a national task force and bringing to that task force all the medical associations and professionals, pediatricians, respiratory societies, all of them and say, “Okay, help me to put in place certain measures that you think will be useful and I need to use your voice as well on television and other media to advertise about that.” Bring in the private sector as well and kind of challenging them and say, “Okay, you are part of the problem, but you need to be a very strong part of the solution as well.” And of course, all the measures around sustainable transport. I think if you bring to the table those in charge of transporting, obviously, the transition to clean sources of energy is one of the biggest, biggest ones. But you need to bring the society. Moms convince, nobody will stop them. I mean the day we have all the moms behind, this is irreversible and we'll move mountains for sure, over.

[Subina Shrestha]
Yeah, just leave it all to the mothers to move it forward and to all of you guys. I think we will have a chance to have one question. And the question is, how can South Asian countries balance economic growth with environmental protection to ensure long-term sustainability? And this is a question that everyone throws all the time, like economics versus environment sustainability, and where does health fit into this? Maybe Dr. Pema, would you like to answer this?

[Pema Gyamtsho]
I think in a nutshell, this tool does not have to be competitive. I think it's complimentary and has to go hand in hand. The very fact that many of our countries are now investing big time in clean energy is a very positive step forward. So, hopefully, we should be able to make better use of these clean energies together with technologies to move towards cleaner air, and also, that means cleaner environment or better environment if you like. I do not see these two as competing sectors, but really complimentary to each other. So, by improving the air quality, we improve the environment as well as the economy. And by improving the economy and environment, we are also purifying the air, actually, we have better air. That is my take on this. Thank you.

[Subina Shrestha]
Dr. Kumar, would you like to add something on this?

[Arvind Kumar]
Yeah. First, I would just add to what Dr. Maria very powerfully and very accurately said that when we go to politicians, we have to go to them with some slogan. So, I would suggest giving a slogan to them. Pollution control will help you in polling. If we just tell them pollution control will help you in polling, if it can go into their head, I think actions will follow.

[Subina Shrestha]
Excellent. Thank you all so much. I am going to take this. We are at 13:55 my time, which is 8 55 DC. I'm going to ask Valerie Hickey, Global Director of Environment, and Natural Resources and Blue Economy at the World Bank to give her closing remarks, and perhaps, talk a little bit more about what she has heard and some of her thoughts about today.

[Valerie Hickey]
Thank you so much. Thank you so much Subina. And I have to say, it has been an incredibly humbling experience to listen to everybody this morning. Your voices are so powerful and so authentic, coming, as they do, from the trenches of this war on dirty air. And it is a war. The stakes are that high. We've all talked about these stakes. Martin started and there's three numbers that really struck in my head, 2 million people dead every year. And that's just talking about lives lost. The quality of life, as Dr. Maria said, are the shocking examples of sickness that Dr. Kumar gave us. It means that it's not just the people who are dead, it's the people who are living lives of misery because of air pollution. It's the number five. Everybody across South Asia having five fewer years with family and friends because of air pollution, many of them after long lives spent working incredibly hard, hoping that they can have a happy retirement, having five years less, but that's not okay. And 10% of GDP lost. Think about the misery that spreads, the food insecurity, lost jobs, lost opportunity. So, the stakes are incredibly high. But what was also so powerful, I thought what I heard this morning is one other number and that's the number 10. 10 years is all it takes. We've seen those examples in real life cities, like Los Angeles and the United States or Mexico City, Beijing, cities that have been able to clean their air in less than 10 years. And that's the hope we have to stick to in this terrible, terrible war on dirty air. And there were four keys I heard to winning this war. The first one, and Dr. Maria, you said it so well, is the importance of data. We need to understand the scale of the problem. We need to understand where the problem is coming from and we need to hold everybody accountable so that we can make better personal decisions, better policy actions, and see how that affects the amount of dirty air. We also, the second thing I heard very clearly from everybody, was the importance of policies and not just national policies or local policies, cross-border policies. We need to make sure that sectors and companies and communities adopt better practices and better technology. And they're incentivized to do it. They're mandated to do it through better policy. And they're penalized when they don't do it. The stakes are too high. We also heard, Dr. Pema, you said it so brilliantly, we need investment, investment, investment. We need more money and rest assured that the World Bank stands ready to invest our financing to fight this war. And then finally, Dr. Kumar, you went toe to toe with Dr. Pema in terms of the fourth and probably most important thing that's needed to win this war, which is political will, political will, political will. So Subina on this International Clean air Day, knowing that we cannot have a world without poverty in a world that's choking on dirty air, dirty air, wanting nobody else to have the kind of experience you've had where your daughter lost a happy childhood to air pollution, and you lost your grandmother to air pollution. Not wanting, like Dr. Kumar said, nebulizers to be as common as kettles in everybody's homes. We need to increase advocacy, do what's being done by those strong and scary moms like Ayesha. And we have to accelerate investment for action so that no later than 2033, in 10 years, everybody across South Asia, whether they're living in cities, in suburbs or in rural communities, whether they're rich or poor, everyone will have access to blue skies and better health. Thank you, Subina.

[Subina Shrestha]
Thank you very much Valerie. And thank you everyone, Dr. Maria, Dr. Pema, Ayesha, Dr. Arvind, for this enlightening conversation. Thank you, Martin and Valerie, for your opening and closing remarks. A special shout out to all of you working behind the scenes and to all of you who have tuned in through World Bank Live and Facebook Live and Twitter Live. I hope you have all enjoyed this as much as I have and learned as much as I've had. Thank you, World Bank for having me. Have a good day, a good evening, and a good night to all of you. Thank you.

[Arvind Kumar]
Bye.

[Subina Shrestha]
Bye-Bye.

[Music]


 

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