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Last Updated: Thursday, 11 October 2007, 07:23 GMT 08:23 UK
Zoellick sets out World Bank aims
Robert Zoellick in Vietnam recently
Mr Zoellick said support for needy countries had to be increased
The head of the World Bank has urged wealthy nations to commit more money to tackling global poverty.

Robert Zoellick said the G8 group of nations must "translate" their pledges of financial support to the poorest nations into "serious numbers".

In a wide-ranging speech, Mr Zoellick said the bank would focus on six goals including help for post-conflict states and more support for Arab countries.

The ex-diplomat replaced scandal-hit predecessor Paul Wolfowitz in June.

We need the G8 and other developed countries to translate their words from summit declarations into serious numbers
Robert Zoellick, World Bank president

To mark 100 days in the post and ahead of the bank's annual meeting on 20 October, Mr Zoellick outlined his vision of what he sees as the 185 member body's key priorities.

Support for the world's poorest countries needed to be increased significantly, he said.

He pointed the finger at the bank's richest donors, some of which are known to be reluctant to provide the $39bn which the bank says is needed to provide low-cost loans and grants to struggling countries.

"We need the G8 and other developed countries to translate their words from summit declarations into serious numbers," he said in a speech in Washington DC.

At the same time, he said "middle-income" countries with fast-growing economies such as India, China and Brazil should not be neglected since they accounted for 70% of the world's poorest people.

Other key goals for the organisation should include improving access to HIV and malaria drugs in Africa and taking a stronger stance on trade and environmental issues, he added.


The World Bank's reputation was tarnished by the preferment scandal which led to the resignation of Paul Wolfowitz earlier this year.

The body and its sister organisation, the International Monetary Fund, have also been heavily criticised for being too high-handed and prescriptive in their solutions to the economic problems of developing countries.

Mother and child in India
Mr Zoellick alluded to the darker side of globalization

Mr Zoellick said it was vital that the World Bank and the IMF showed that "multilateralism can work much more effectively".

He added that while globalisation offered tremendous opportunities to all countries, the accompanying dangers of "exclusion, grinding poverty and environmental damage" for rural and indigenous populations, particularly in Africa, could not be ignored.

Development organisations broadly welcomed Mr Zoellick's comments but said the World Bank's anti-poverty strategy needed to be seen to be working more effectively.

"Zoellick understands that the bank's raison d'etre is to fight poverty," said Bernice Romero, Oxfam's chief advocacy director.

"But we need to see this blueprint working to lift people out of poverty."

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