UPDATE 2-Zoellick unveils new agenda for World Bank
WASHINGTON Oct 10 (Reuters) - World Bank President Robert Zoellick on Wednesday unveiled six strategic themes he said would focus the work of the world's largest poverty-fighting institution on tackling poverty in the poorest countries and also in emerging economies like China.
In a speech that marked his first 100 days at the World Bank, Zoellick said the World Bank had a role in advancing "an inclusive and sustainable globalization" by helping developing countries adjust to more open economies and making sure the poor were not excluded.
In some parts of the world, globalization has stirred up general angst about its effects on countries, their economies and societies, prompting increased protectionism.
"We shouldn't and can't try to stop it, but we do need to try and help manage it, and help those that may otherwise be left behind," Zoellick told an audience at the National Press Club. "One of the roles of the World Bank Group is try to make sure that developing countries get to see the advantages."
The themes Zoellick pinpointed include sharpening the bank's focus on combating poverty in poor countries, addressing the needs of states emerging from conflict, strengthening support for the Arab world that has been underserved by the institution, and stepping up assistance to emerging economies.
He stressed that the bank could not ignore economic powerhouses like China, which was still home to large numbers of poor despite its rapid economic growth. He said countries like China increasingly looked at the bank for its knowledge and experience on issues from the environment to health or financial services.
Zoellick said he would discuss the themes with the bank's 185 shareholders at meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund in Washington next week.
His speech offered a clearer direction for the institution shaken by a leadership crisis that led to the resignation of his predecessor Paul Wolfowitz, a former deputy U.S. defense secretary and architect of the Iraq war.
Wolfowitz was forced to resign following a staff uproar over a high-paying promotion he authorized for his companion, a Middle East expert.
TACKLING GLOBAL WARMING
Zoellick also broke from the past by acknowledging the bank needs to step up its assistance to international efforts to address climate change, while also making sure that developing countries are able to grow while also protecting their environments.
Wolfowitz remained largely quiet on the bank's work on the environment, which many interpreted as reflecting Washington's resistance to locking in commitments to curb greenhouse gas emissions that spur global warming.
Zoellick said he would elaborate more on the bank's work on global warming at next week's meeting of shareholders and before a UN climate change conference in Bali in December.
"I hope to outline a portfolio of ways the World Bank can help integrate the needs of development and low carbon growth," he said, noting that emerging economies were home to 60 percent of the world's forests and 40 percent of global emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels.
"We need to focus particularly on the interests of developing countries, so that we can meet the challenge of climate change without slowing the growth that will help overcome poverty," he added.
But Zoellick said as the bank adapted to such challenges, rich donor nations also needed to do their part and increase contributions to the bank's International Development Association, or IDA, which lends to 81 of the world's poorest countries.
Negotiations to replenish IDA's funding to cover its lending from 2009 to 2011 are currently under way.
"We need the G8 and other developed countries to translate their words from summit declarations into serious numbers too," Zoellick said.
Still, Zoellick said the bank was not only a lending institution and it should do more to expand its thinking about policy and markets, while also pioneering opportunities for the poor.
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