For the developing world, the horizon is filled with opportunity. Despite recent financial crises in wealthy countries, economists everywhere are recognizing the unprecedented economic growth of the developing world. World leaders are coming to regard poor nations as trade partners rather than aid recipients. The goal to end extreme poverty by 2030, defined as living on less than $1.25 a day, is already halfway accomplished—and the projections are just as hopeful.
That progress, however, has been uneven. While much of the world has made great strides against injustice, many areas are still torn by violence and discrimination, even in countries with extraordinary growth and reform. Countries like the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan, and Iraq are in the top ten fastest-growing countries on the planet, yet they lag far behind achieving any of the Millennium Development Goals. Conflict, systemic instability, and inequitable opportunity all contribute to this problem.
That’s why the post-2015 approach of institutions like the World Bank is different. The new focus is on fragile populations: ensuring that everyone, even the most vulnerable, benefits from economic advances. Toward that end, future MDG funding will concentrate on conflict zones and human rights violations, where obstacles to basic human development inhibit economic growth.
“We recognize that sustained economic growth needs a reduction in inequality,” said a report from the World Bank’s Development Committee. “Investments that create opportunities for all citizens and promote gender equality are an important end in their own right, as well we being integral to creating prosperity.”
Already, the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) has called for renewed financial support specifically to expand development into fragile situations. In Mali, which underwent a revolution in early 2012, the IDA is meeting with regional leaders and launching projects in previously inaccessible areas. In Burundi, a country bogged down in extreme poverty, the Bank is ramping up private sector development by bringing together multilateral private lending and political risk insurance.
Amid increasing efforts to include fragile situations in the developing world’s galloping growth, the World Bank predicts that, by 2030, only 3% of the world will remain in extreme poverty. The rest will be better off.
“The efforts to end poverty have been really significant,” says Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank. “They said poverty would always be with us. Well, maybe not.”
— John Mahon