Yellen to press for additional reforms at World Bank this year
US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will call on Wednesday for the World Bank to undertake additional reforms this year to expand its ability to help developing countries meet global challenges such as climate change.
Yellen is hosting talks with global finance officials on Wednesday to discuss ways to continue evolving the World Bank and other multilateral development banks so they can better help developing countries deal with climate change and other global crises, even as they work to reduce extreme poverty.
In excerpts of her remarks obtained by Reuters, Yellen said changes already approved had sharpened the mission of the World Bank to ensure it was striving to end extreme poverty, boost shared prosperity and build resilience.
"This does not mean we are moving away from the Bank’s traditional work. Rather, our incorporation of global challenges enhances the Bank’s work on poverty reduction and development. These goals are all interconnected," she said.
Yellen said Zambian women she met during her visit in January understood how climate change reduced agricultural yields. "And we’ve all seen how threats to global health can disrupt entire societies and economies, and how fragility and conflict can lead to significant displacement and migrant flows," she said.
Yellen hailed balance sheet changes that could add up to $50 billion in the bank's financing capacity over 10 years, while protecting its AAA credit rating and long-term financial stability.
"These are very significant achievements. We should acknowledge and celebrate that," she said in the prepared remarks. "And then we need to push for more progress. We should use the rest of the year to undertake additional reforms through a staged implementation approach that can be agreed upon by the Board and implemented on a rolling basis."
Yellen gave no specifics in the excerpts, but said upcoming events could be leveraged to keep momentum strong for the evolution of the World Bank. Those included the Summit for a New Global Financial Pact to be hosted by France in June, the Group of 20 Leaders’ Summit in India in September, the annual meetings of the World Bank and IMF in Morocco in October, and the United Nations COP28 climate conference to be held in Dubai in November and December.
In addition to bolstering the bank's financing capacity, Yellen said the bank was also working to systematically integrate regional and global challenges into its country diagnostic reports and country engagement, while expanding focusing more on raising additional private capital.
A U.S. Treasury official this week called the financing change a "downpayment" on further reforms at the World Bank and other multilateral development banks.
Outgoing World Bank President David Malpass, who will leave his post on June 1, Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Japanese Finance Minister Shun'ichi Suzuki are among those expected to attend Yellen's roundtable.