The head of the World Bank says slowing economic growth around the world is hurting the institution’s goal of ending extreme poverty by the year 2030. While the challenges may be great, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said the goal remains within reach - but only if world leaders and emerging financial and development institutions do their part.
What is extreme poverty? According to the United Nations it’s a condition characterized by a lack of basic human needs, like clean drinking water, food, sanitation and education.
The good news, says World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, is that the world has made some progress.
“Over 25 years, we’ve gone from nearly two billion people living in extreme poverty to fewer than one billion," said Kim.
Despite inroads, nearly a billion people still live on less than a $1.25 per day.
Further complicating the goal of eradicating poverty is the economic slowdown in developed and emerging economies.
One solution is to partner with new financial institutions such as the Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank - led by China - and the New Development Bank founded by the so-called BRICS countries: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
“We at the World Bank Group see these development banks as potentially very strong allies in tackling the enormous challenge of bringing much needed infrastructure to the developing world," said Kim.
Such banking coalitions could help address the infrastructure spending gap that the World Bank alone can't fill. Amy Studdart is deputy director in Political Economy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
“There’s a huge infrastructure gap in Asia. The World Bank itself estimates that it was $2.5 trillion worth of investment that needs to happen in South Asia and South East Asia alone," said Studdart.
Despite the perceived need for such lending groups, some - including the United States - fear such institutions could further diminish Western influence in Asia.
But Jim Yong Kim says influence is not the issue.
“The fundamental issue for us is, your enemy cannot be other institutions. Your enemy has to be poverty," he said.
The World Bank is expected to address those issues when world leaders come together at the United Nations later this year to establish global priorities. Among them - ending poverty.