World Bank Group president Jim Yong Kim and United Nations Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson announced the two international organizations will work together much more closely to address and help solve some of humanity’s most pressing problems, sustainability, health care and education prominent among them.
Pointing out that the two organizations have traditionally collaborated, “the founders of both organizations had more serious intentions and wanted us to be working as a team, not only on headquarters level, but out there in the field where the people of the world need our help,” Eliasson states in a World Bank video.
“With the leadership of Yong Kim and Ban Ki-moon, I know from personal experience of meetings that we are on to something which I would hope lead to a qualitative and quantitative new step in our cooperation.”
Millennium development goals, sustainability and conflict
Eliasson singled out the acceleration of efforts to achieve UN Millennium development goals and taking steps to improve the financing of development as priority areas for the two international organizations’ joint efforts.
Demonstrating their ability to work effectively as a team worldwide would provide a big boost to the credibility of both organizations at a time when governments and societies face the challenges associated with a globalized financial and economic system, as well as global and cross-border environmental challenges, such as climate change, he said.
In their video, Kim notes that he is the first former UN employee to serve as president of The World Bank Group. “I think there are so many issues in which the Bretton Woods institutions and the UN simply have to work together.
“Often in the field what we’ve found is that despite best intentions, it didn’t work together effectively… On issues that range from health care to sustainability to the rule of law, there are so many things that are so important to the world, and I think that there are specific things we can work on.”
Sustainability is one critical issue that both international organizations work on, Kim continues, adding, “We work together on health care-related issues; we work together on education.
“We feel that those are the very foundations of the future economic growth that’s going to provide the jobs, that’s going to provide the future, long-term sustainability, and there’s no question that a multilateral system that’s joined together at the hip, working together, can be much, much more effective.”
Organizational differences and rivalry aside, Kim adds that the two leaders want to send a clear message to country offices of both the UN and World Bank that the two of them are working very closely together, and “we expect that everyone in the country offices will do their utmost to work as a single, multilateral institution.”
“We live in an age, in a time, where we’re actually going to test whether multilateralism works, whether the international solutions work, and if we do not produce good formulas for today’s problems that work out in the field, the mulilateral structure will lose it’s credibility. So, there’s much at stake,” Eliasson said.
“The multilateral system is absolutely indispensable; it’s indispensable for the world. We’ve got to make the case; we’ve got to make the case more clearly. I think one of the ways that we can make the case more clearly is by showing that we can work together effectively…if we can do that in every country of the world,” Kim continued. “We work very effectively in certain instances, especially in emergencies, but if we can work together effectively in every country, in every country in the world, I think there will be no doubt, and everyone will understand that the multilateral system is absolutely indispensable for the world.”
*Photo credit First Solar