Skip to main content

World Bank president: We can end extreme poverty by 2030

By Jim Yong Kim, Special to CNN
April 5, 2013 -- Updated 0556 GMT (1356 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Economic policymakers are preparing to gather in Washington, D.C., for the World Bank-IMF Spring Meetings
  • President of the World Bank argues strategies to kick start growth are on the right track, but need more work
  • Jim Yong Kim says the world is at a moment of historic opportunity to end global absolute poverty
  • He says this goal is ambitious but can be achieved by 2030, if there is strong and stable growth across the world

Editor's note: Jim Yong Kim is president of the World Bank Group. This article is adapted from a speech delivered at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. on April 2. Watch his interview with CNN's Richard Quest, presenter of Quest Means Business, above.

(CNN) -- In two weeks, economic policymakers from around the world will gather in Washington, D.C., for the World Bank-IMF Spring Meetings. As has been the case for the past five years, there will be much talk of economic crisis and of strategies to restore confidence, kick start growth, and create jobs.

There is growing evidence that we are on the right track, but this agenda still requires much more work.

The meetings, though, also offer an occasion to look beyond the short term crisis-fighting measures. It is a chance for leaders to adopt a long-term perspective and assess where we stand and where we are headed.

If they do, they will see that today we are at a moment of historic opportunity. For the end of absolute poverty, a dream which has enticed and driven humanity for centuries, is now within our grasp.

READ MORE: Bono on how to fight poverty

Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank
Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank

In recent decades the world has made impressive progress in the fight against poverty, a fact too often lost in the headlines of immediate crisis conditions. On the strength of robust private sector growth underpinned by improved economic governance, today extreme poverty is in retreat across the developing world.

In 1990, 43% of the developing world lived on less than $1.25 a day. The World Bank estimates that by 2010 this figure had dropped to 21%. The first Millennium Development Goal, to halve extreme poverty, was achieved five years ahead of time.

World Bank boss' inequality concerns

As we look forward, while we of course cannot take high growth for granted, the conditions are in place for this strong performance to continue. Indeed, 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.

Our collective duty now must be to ensure that these favorable circumstances are matched with deliberate decisions to realize this remarkable opportunity.

READ MORE: Is Africa much richer than we think? No one knows

The world can end extreme poverty by 2030. This feasible but ambitious goal should bring unity, urgency, and energy to our collective efforts in the fight against poverty.

Meeting this deadline will require strong, stable growth across the developing world, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. It will require policies to enhance inclusiveness and prevent increases in inequality, and ensure that growth translates into poverty reduction, most importantly through creating jobs.

It will require transformational changes in fragile states, which are home to an increasing share of the world's poor. And it will require that potential shocks, such as climatic disasters or new fuel, food, or financial crises, are averted or mitigated.

It will not be easy, and will demand concerted global action from governments, donors, civil society, and the private sector. But is there anyone, anywhere, who doubts that the reward will be worth it?

READ MORE: Study shows speed of global warming

Of course progress toward ending poverty will need to be sustained over time and for all future generations. We must promote shared prosperity, helping vulnerable people so that they will not fall back into poverty.

And, crucially unless the world takes bold action now, a disastrously warming planet threatens to reverse past advances. Climate change is not just an environmental challenge: It is a fundamental threat to economic development and the fight against poverty.

At the World Bank Group we have no pretence that we will be the key actor in ending poverty. Progress toward this goal, as it always has, will continue to depend primarily on the actions of developing countries.

But we will be there to help. We will work with our partners to share knowledge on solutions to end poverty. We will closely monitor and observe progress toward this goal, reporting annually on what has been achieved and where gaps remain. And we will use our convening and advocacy power to continually remind policymakers and the international community what is at stake.

By acting today, there is an opportunity to create a world for our children which is defined not by stark inequities but by soaring opportunities. We can and must achieve a world free of poverty.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Jim Yong Kim.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
August 18, 2014 -- Updated 1236 GMT (2036 HKT)
Europe's deteriorating relationship with Russia has hit the region's growth, even before new food sanctions begin to bite.
July 16, 2014 -- Updated 1634 GMT (0034 HKT)
With cyberattacks on the rise and here to stay, it's a modern-day challenge for people and businesses to get smarter about preventing them.
August 14, 2014 -- Updated 1324 GMT (2124 HKT)
Airstrikes, rebels seizing control of oil fields, plus a severe refugee crisis are a recipe for market panic. So why are Iraq oil prices stable?
July 20, 2014 -- Updated 1524 GMT (2324 HKT)
Evidence points to pro-Russian separatists as perpetrators of the attack and Vladimir Putin is facing uncomfortable questions, David Clark writes.
August 5, 2014 -- Updated 1440 GMT (2240 HKT)
The biggest Ebola outbreak in history is taking its toll in Western Africa, hitting some of West Africa's most vulnerable economies.
July 3, 2014 -- Updated 0902 GMT (1702 HKT)
Macau has overtaken Switzerland in the wealth stakes, being named the world's fourth richest territory by the World Bank.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 1447 GMT (2247 HKT)
Saudi Arabian Bateel brand is best known for its delectable dates but it now has more than a dozen cafes and a new bakery in the works.
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 1100 GMT (1900 HKT)
A British nanotech company has created what it says is the world's darkest material. It is so dark the human eye can't discern its shape and form.
July 16, 2014 -- Updated 1602 GMT (0002 HKT)
Jibo robot is designed to be an organizer, educator and assist family members. CNN's Maggie Lake met him and says she was impressed with his skills.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 2109 GMT (0509 HKT)
American burger joints have sprung up all over London, but how to know which ones are best? CNN's Jim Boulden investigates.
June 18, 2014 -- Updated 1222 GMT (2022 HKT)
Sandwiched in between Iraq and Syria, Jordan's destiny seems to be one of a constant struggle for survival. John Defterios explains.
June 18, 2014 -- Updated 1502 GMT (2302 HKT)
At the last football World Cup, it was all about 3D. This time around, it's nothing less than 4K.
July 16, 2014 -- Updated 1058 GMT (1858 HKT)
Bob Mazzer has photographed inside London's Tube network for 40 years. He's captured history.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 1712 GMT (0112 HKT)
Exotic animals are becoming a profitable business opportunity for Nicaraguan entrepreneurs. CNN's Rafael Romo reports.
June 13, 2014 -- Updated 1529 GMT (2329 HKT)
Iraq produces 3.3 million barrels per day and has the world's fourth-largest oil reserves. But the current crisis is putting all this in danger.
June 18, 2014 -- Updated 1222 GMT (2022 HKT)
Sandwiched in between Iraq and Syria, Jordan's destiny seems to be one of a constant struggle for survival. John Defterios explains.
June 16, 2014 -- Updated 1314 GMT (2114 HKT)
The gas standoff between Russia and Ukraine could have a knock-on effect on Europe. Explore this map to find out why is the EU nervous.
July 16, 2014 -- Updated 1058 GMT (1858 HKT)
Bob Mazzer has photographed inside London's Tube network for 40 years. He's captured history.
June 17, 2014 -- Updated 1206 GMT (2006 HKT)
The UK capital promotes its tech stars and shows it can compete with Silicon Valley. Here are five companies that pitch to make it big.
ADVERTISEMENT