Jim Kim: Addressing inequality, investing in people critical to sustainable growth

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim during his interview with Al Jazeera’s Ali Velshi. Photo by: Simone D. McCourtie / World Bank / CC BY-NC-ND

What are the main obstacles to achieving sustainable economic growth in the developing world?

Income inequality and a lack of investment in people, according to World Bank President Jim Kim. During a conversation with Al Jazeera host Ali Velshi at the bank’s spring meetings in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, Kim said both issues are “fundamental” if we want to achieve sustainable growth in the developing world.

Citing a report by the International Monetary Fund that notes how inequality hinders growth and a study in The Lancet that claims that almost a quarter of growth in the developing world could be attributed to improvements in health, the World Bank president made the case for the relevancy of the institution’s goal to promote more inclusive growth and his push for universal healthcare in emerging economies.

“Unless you invest in people, you are not going to see growth in the long-term, the medium-term, and maybe even the short-term,” he stressed.  

Kim argued that the changes he has made to the bank’s organizational structure should keep the World Bank relevant by making it more efficient and able to deliver better solutions to client countries, thus increasing demand — although he admitted that implementing the reforms has not been easy, especially for staff.

He also hit on many familiar themes about the need for long-term infrastructure financing around the world, the need for private sector involvement in development financing, and once again used the Inga Dam project in the Democratic Republic of Congo as an example of the role the bank should be playing.

As for how the World Bank was competing with China in its investments in African countries and elsewhere, Kim said “there’s plenty of work to go around.”

For the most comprehensive coverage of the World Bank’s spring meetings, check out daily updates via Storify, and be sure to follow Devex on Twitter and Facebook. You may tweet questions and comments to our reporters Paul Stephens @pauldstephens, Michael Igoe @twigoe, Rolf Rosenkranz @devexrolf and Adva Saldinger @deveximpact.

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About the author

  • Paul Stephens

    Paul Stephens is a former Devex staff writer based in Washington, D.C. As a multimedia journalist, editor and producer, Paul has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Washington Monthly, CBS Evening News, GlobalPost, and the United Nations magazine, among other outlets. He's won a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting for a 5-month, in-depth reporting project in Yemen after two stints in Georgia: one as a Peace Corps volunteer and another as a communications coordinator for the U.S. Agency for International Development.

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