UPDATE 1-World Bank chief calls for ending extreme poverty by 2030

Tue Apr 2, 2013 12:13pm EDT

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By Lesley Wroughton

WASHINGTON, April 2 (Reuters) - World Bank President Jim Yong Kim called for a commitment by the international community on Tuesday to end extreme poverty by 2030 and to improve the lives of the most vulnerable people living in developing countries.

To reach that goal, Kim said the world need to reduce the number of people living below the poverty line of $1.25 per day to 3 percent globally by 2030, and raise the per capita incomes of the bottom 40 percent of every developing country.

The 3 percent level is a new target for the World Bank, which estimated in 2010 that 21 percent of the global population, or 1.2 billion people, lived extreme poverty.

Some World Bank estimates have put the 3 percent target at about 600 million people living below the poverty line by 2030.

The goal will help guide the World Bank's poverty-fighting mission by allowing it to prioritize development projects, Kim said.

"Now is the time to commit to ending extreme poverty," he said in a speech before meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund on April 19 and 20 in Washington.

"We are at an auspicious moment in history, when the successes of past decades and an increasingly favorable economic outlook combine to give developing countries a chance - for the first time ever - to end extreme poverty within a generation," he added.

The World Bank's board will consider a new country strategy for India next week that aimed to reduce poverty by an additional 300 million over the next several years. An estimated 50 million people were lifted out of poverty in India over the past five years.

The rise of countries like China, India and Brazil has lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty and pushed more into a new global middle class living between $2 to $10 a day, according to the World Bank and the United Nations.

But most of the success in reducing poverty has been in China, while regions such as South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa still struggle. Fragile and conflict-ridden states, such as Afghanistan, are also still mired in poverty.

World leaders have called for an end to extreme poverty, including U.S. President Barack Obama and Malawi's new leader, Joyce Banda.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said last month Brazil was close to eradicating extreme poverty through a flagship cash transfer program for the poor that is being replicated in other countries.

The focus on poverty targets comes as a high-level panel crafts a new global development framework that will look beyond the 2015 U.N. Millennium Development Goals of halving global poverty and hunger.

Kim said economic growth was important but not enough to cut poverty and shrink the growing gap between rich and poor. New development challenges like climate change threaten the livelihoods of millions of poor people, he warned.

Kim called for bold action to tackle climate change and said the World Bank was working to strengthen its focus on the effects of climate change.

To reach the 2030 poverty goal, Kim said, poorer regions such as South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa need sustained high growth rates and a sharp increase in job creation. The goal also relies on averting economic shocks such as sharp rises in food and fuel prices.

"Economic growth is vital but we can't assume that growth at the top will trickle down. We need to create the conditions that will guarantee that the poor participate in development," Kim said.

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