For over 70 years, the World Bank Group has successfully raised funds in the capital markets to invest in development projects. Through its arm for middle-income countries, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), the World Bank Group funded public sector projects like roads, green energy, health or education systems; and through the International Finance Corporation (IFC), it provided capital to the private sector in developing countries to help businesses grow and provide jobs, taxes and other wider societal benefits.
Safely managed sanitation is a focus of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It is central to stunting reduction and early childhood survival, both identified by the World Bank’s Human Capital Index as critical for humans to develop their full potential. It is widely known that 4.5 billion people lacked access to safely managed sanitation in 2015, according to the Joint Monitoring Programme. Less well understood is that hundreds of millions more people in densely populated rural areas are exposed to significant health risk due to unsafely managed sanitation.
On October 11, at the Human Capital Summit 2018 Philips CEO Frans van Houten co-signed an open letter, to the world community highlighting the need for greater investment in human capital – the knowledge, skills, and health that people accumulate throughout their lives – through better nutrition, health care, education, jobs and skills. The publication of the open letter coincided with the launch of the World Bank Group’s Human Capital Index – a simple but effective metric for human capital outcomes such as child survival, early hard wiring of children for success, student learning, and adult health. Philips has made a commitment to improve the lives of 3 billion people by 2030. We are working with the World Bank Group (among others) to reach this goal.
Juan and his family fled their home during Peru’s 1995 insurgency. Like many other Peruvians, they left behind all of their possessions, including their IDs and other documents. Without an ID, Juan—along with 3 million other Peruvians whose civil registration records were lost or destroyed during this period—was unable to enroll in school or access basic social services.
Mariam, a cross border trader from Uganda, struggled to earn a livelihood because of the difficulty she faced in crossing the border to buy and sell goods in Kenya. Without the necessary IDs, she could not pass through regular border crossings and was forced to travel long distances in dangerous areas that left her vulnerable to theft and exploitation.
Data plays a crucial role in the 2030 agenda set out by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It helps us to focus policies and make better decisions. It is needed to set targets, measure progress towards those targets and to hold governments accountable to their commitments under the SDGs.
Data is also essential for governments to fulfill their pledge to leave no one behind in the SDGs; that the goals should be met for all segments of society and that those furthest behind should be reached first. Despite significant progress over the last few years, we are still far away from being able to systematically identify those at risk of being left behind or to monitor their progress towards the 2030 commitments.
Just over a decade out from the SDG deadline of 2030, many developing countries are not on track to meet Universal Health Coverage (UHC) targets to ensure access to quality, affordable health services to all. People in developing countries pay over half a trillion dollars annually out-of-pocket for health services, which is pushing about 100 million people into extreme poverty each year. The evidence is strong that progress towards UHC would spur not just better health but also inclusive and sustainable economic growth, yet this report estimates that in 2030 there will be a UHC financing gap of $176 billion in the 54 poorest countries. This threatens decades-long progress on health, endangers countries’ long-term economic prospects, and makes them more vulnerable to pandemic risks. This report, launched to inform the first-ever G20 Finance and Health Ministers session in Osaka, Japan in June 2019, lays out an action agenda for countries and development partners to bridge the UHC financing gap, and makes a strong case for a focus on innovation in health financing over the next decade.
Ending poverty is not only one of the twin goals of the World Bank, but also one of the Sustainable Development Goals. To design and optimize projects for poverty reduction, we need to measure their impact on poverty. This is quite difficult because changes in the poverty rate might take some time, and it is usually hard to attribute the impact to a particular project, especially without conducting a randomized controlled trial (RCT). But even if we manage to overcome these challenges, we need to measure poverty before the start of the project – as a baseline and to understand whether the project adequately targets the poor – and at the end of the project to assess its impact. And that is also not easy.
Three years into the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) era, the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region is “on track to achieve universal access by 2030,” according to the 2018 UN SDG6 Synthesis Report 2018 on Water and Sanitation.
However, important challenges remain to reach SDG6 in LAC. Safe water and sanitation coverage levels are currently below the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) targets of achieving improved coverage levels. The statistical (coverage) or administrative information that LAC countries currently access fails to capture the new attributes of the SDGs, especially relating to the quality of services, wastewater treatment, and the adoption of hygiene practices, including hand washing. Moreover, the institutional arrangements along with diminishing sector investments cannot be adequately programmed with the type of information currently available.
Issued in November 2008, the World Bank’s first green bond created the blueprint for sustainable investing in the capital markets. Today, the green bond model is being applied to bonds that are raising financing for all 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
The phone call to the World Bank Treasury came out of the blue: a group of Swedish pension funds wanted to invest in projects that help the climate, but they did not know how to find these projects. But they knew where to turn and called on the World Bank to help. Less than a year later, the World Bank issued the first green bond—and with it, created a new way to connect financing from investors to climate projects.
Achieving sustainable development depends on incremental investments in six priority transformations: building human capacities (health, education, new job skills); decarbonising energy; promoting sustainable agriculture and biodiversity; building smarter cities; implementing the circular economy; and harnessing the digital revolution. As such, sustainable development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in particular pose a financing challenge. There are three distinct financing conundrums to solve: financing complex infrastructure, financing public services and amenities, and shifting investments from unsustainable to sustainable technologies. I discuss these in turn.