Government of Canada

Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada

Development Partners: A conversation with Dr. Jim Yong Kim — President of the World Bank Group

  • FLV Format, 43.3 MB, 4 m 14 s


The World Bank has, for so many years, been what people call the "premier development institution". We lend and give grants of about $50 billion a year. We have 188 member countries and, recently, we have been lucky enough to have our governors, which are the ministers of Finance and Development of 188 countries, agree on two goals.

The first is to end poverty by 2030. It is amazing to think of it, that we are the first generation in history, who has a chance to end extreme poverty in a generation. The second goal is to boost shared prosperity, which means that we are going to be looking every year at how the bottom 40% of any society are doing in terms of their income growth. In other words, do the poorest 40% participate and share in economic growth?

When we look at countries like the Arab Spring countries, what we know is that, if your GDP is growing but people aren't included, you're building instability into your society. Now, when we talk about shared prosperity, we also mean prosperity that's shared with future generations, so we are going to be working a lot on climate change and sustainability. But the World Bank is the organization in the world that's taking responsibility to continue to monitor and push the world forward on those goals of ending poverty and making sure that prosperity growth is shared.

Canada has always been one of the strongest supporters of the World Bank Group. It was a founding member, and we consider Canada one of our most important partners, always among the most generous in terms of providing resources, but also a thought partner. We know that Canada is one of the thought leaders. You have great think tanks here. You have the IDRC; you have the North-South Institute. CIDA itself is a source of tremendous amounts of intelligence on the aspects of development that are working, that are not working. So Canada, in every way, is one of our most important partners, and that is why I am here.

You know, over the years, I've become to really much more deeply appreciate the importance of the private sector. Let me make it really simple. So, if you look at all of the official development assistance in the world, it's about $125 billion a year. Now, if you look at a country like India, for example – 400 million people still living in extreme poverty, one of the most important countries that will determine how well we do in our goal of ending poverty.

India, over the next five years, has a $1 trillion infrastructure deficit. So, all of the official development assistance can't even begin to meet India's needs. And so the question, for me, is not whether you like the private sector or you like the public sector. It doesn't [matter], it's not that at all. The question, for me, is how big are your aspirations for the poorest people? Because, if you don't have very big aspirations, than you can just focus on the public sector and official development assistance. But if your goal is to end poverty, you simply have to think about how to get the private sector engaged in a way that will bring profits to them but will also bring jobs, will bring economic growth, and will be the engine – I would argue, at the end of the day, one of the most important engines – of ending poverty and boosting shared prosperity.

I just want to say, in a very focused way, we are so grateful to the Canadian people, we are so grateful to this government, we are so grateful to CIDA, because Canadians have been among the most generous of all countries, and the thing that I also want all the people in Canada to know is that the dollars that are being spent by CIDA, and by the Canadian government, are based on evidence and are having a huge impact, and I just want to thank everybody for continuing to support the generosity of the Canadian government to some of the poorest countries in the world.