Spring was in the air at the World Bank headquarters, the pope gets personal on Syria’s refugee crisis, and Aussies gear up for an aid budget showdown. This week in development news:
Finance ministers, world leaders, first ladies, bank chiefs and billionaires came together to wrap their heads around some of the world’s biggest challenges at the World Bank Group’s annual spring meetings. There were a few major announcements: the bank will make $2.5 billion available for girls’ education — a key priority of U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama’s, who joined World Bank President Kim to make the announcement. A high-level panel challenged the world to be more ambitious in seeking a price on carbon. And the World Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, two institutions often billed as competitors, signed their first joint agreement. Gates challenged the international community to step up on nutrition, and Devex caught up with African Development Bank President Akinwume Adesina to learn more about that push.
Other multilateral development banks made news of their own. The New Development Bank — or BRICS bank — is making $811 million available for renewable energy investments in its member countries. And the AIIB took steps to cement its role as a key funder of the “new silk road,” a better-connected economic network spanning Central Asia — with China poised to be a key hub and financier.
There is growing aid anxiety in the land down under after a Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull maneuver, which moves up the date of the country’s budget night and gives global development advocates less time to defend their programs against proposed cuts. “Facing a more aggressive deadline, these groups will have less time to make their case to both lawmakers and the Australian public. They will also be negotiating with a new minister for international development and the Pacific who has been in her new role for just over a month,” writes Lisa Cornish for Devex.
Earthquakes in Japan and Ecuador have responders scrambling on both sides of the Pacific. Last Thursday a 6.2 magnitude quake, followed shortly by a 7.0 magnitude quake struck Japan, killing 50 people and displacing 100,000. Four days later — on April 18 — a 7.8 magnitude earthquake rocked Ecuador, killing at least 350 people and injuring more than 2,000.
Pope Francis delivered a message to European nations during a visit to the Greek island of Lesbos: if you won’t accept refugees, I will. The pope selected — by lottery — 12 Syrian refugees to accompany him back to Rome. The move was seen as a symbolic gesture to put pressure on countries that have dragged their feet in offering refugees asylum, or brokered deals to deport them. The pope’s selection of 12 individuals also drew attention to the roughly 53,000 refugees in Greece he was not able to bring back with him.
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