The World Bank's sole nominee and North Korea's dire straits: This week in development

By Michael Igoe 15 September 2016

World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim. Photo by: Simone D. McCourtie / World Bank / CC BY-NC-ND

Jim Yong Kim locks up the sole nomination for 2017 World Bank president, North Korea appeals for flood relief help, while Priti Patel, the new DfID chief, dials back some of the rhetoric in her first U.K. parliamentary hearing. This week in development news.

The United Nations General Assembly opened its 71st session in New York Tuesday, with an emphasis on implementing the 17 Sustainable Development Goals adopted by 193 countries at the 70th UNGA session last year. The theme of this year’s session is “The Sustainable Development Goals: A Universal Push to Transform our World,” but UNGA will see a particular focus on migration and refugee issues, climate change, antimicrobial resistance and health financing. “This first year is crucial. It is a time when all Member States should align their policies, programmes and spending behind the 17 goals,” said U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, addressing the opening of the new session. Devex will be on the ground in New York, reporting from UNGA, the last-ever Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting, and the Social Good Summit — in addition to the ever-expanding list of side events and special meetings that have turned New York’s Global Dev Week into a highlight of the development calendar.

Priti Patel — the new U.K. Department for International Development chief who rose to political prominence with her vocal support for Brexit — made her first official parliamentary appearance this week since taking on the new job. On Wednesday, the day after Patel expressed fury over DfID’s wastefulness in a Daily Mail editorial, she struck a more measured tone and told the U.K. parliament’s international development committee she will continue to fund EU development institutions — which many feared she wouldn’t — and uphold the U.K.’s 0.7 percent of national income commitment to foreign aid spending. Many in the U.K. aid community — and their EU counterparts — are struggling to know what to make of Patel’s plans, considering how harshly she has criticized the institution she now leads.

Jim Yong Kim is the sole nominee to be the next World Bank president after the nomination window closed Wednesday in a contentious appointment process that many criticized as hurried and lacking transparency. While large portions of the bank’s current and former staff will no doubt continue to protest both the president and the appointment process, Kim now appears poised to lock down a second term — he still has nine months left in his first — after securing the backing of many of the bank’s shareholder countries. The bank has said that consideration of candidates will take two to three weeks — which would suggest an announcement of Kim’s reappointment around the time of the bank’s annual meetings in October. The World Bank’s staff association, among other groups, has vowed to keep pushing the bank to pursue other options and a more open process.

73 Syrian aid groups suspended cooperation with a U.N. information-sharing system in the country, until the system is revised so that the Syrian government does not exert influence over it, or benefit from it. “We have little hope that the UN-coordinated humanitarian response might operate independently of the political priorities of the Syrian government,” the groups wrote in a letter to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs last week. “This deliberate manipulation by the Syrian government and the complacency of the UN have played hand-in-hand. The people of Syria have suffered ever more as a result,” they wrote. The groups pointed to instances where they had delivered information about immediate medical or humanitarian needs, which they claim were ignored by the U.N.-coordinated system. At the same time, a tenuous ceasefire between government forces and rebel groups in Syria has aid groups feeling cautiously optimistic that they may be able to reach besieged parts of the country — such as the city of Aleppo — that have been cut off from humanitarian assistance.

North Korea is appealing to the international community for flood relief assistance amid one of the worst-ever natural disasters to affect the isolated country, despite defying the international community by testing a nuclear weapon last week. “North Korean authorities initially asked aid agencies to help with relief efforts using their existing budgets and supplies. But now officials plan to launch international appeals for donations,” the Washington Post reported. The floods were caused by Typhoon Lionrock, which struck North Korea two weeks ago. The government reported that 133 people have been killed and another 395 people remain missing as a result of the floods, according to a statement from OCHA. More than 100,000 people have been displaced.

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About the author

Igoe michael 1
Michael Igoe@AlterIgoe

Michael Igoe is a senior correspondent for Devex. Based in Washington, D.C., he covers U.S. foreign aid and emerging trends in international development and humanitarian policy. Michael draws on his experience as both a journalist and international development practitioner in Central Asia to develop stories from an insider's perspective.

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