Yellen: World Bank Should Incorporate Climate and Pandemic Challenges in Fight to End Poverty

World Bank poverty reduction work should include growth goals and address climate change, pandemics and other global challenges, asserted Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Thursday. Speaking at the Center for Strategic International Studies, she presented US priorities on a World Bank reform process of the Bank's vision, operation and finances.

“The pandemic, war and inflation are increasing poverty around the globe,” said Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious development group Jubilee USA Network. “Yellen knows we've lost decades of work on development and that the World Bank and development banks can do more if we can make these banks more effective."

Last October, the US led calls for a reform process of the World Bank. The agenda includes assessing proposals to increase bank lending by hundreds of billions of dollars.

“As we need development banks to do more, they will need more resources and capital,” added LeCompte. "We also need them to be more innovative to deal with multiple, growing crises."

In a 2021 letter to President Biden, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and Jubilee USA Network called for significantly increasing multilateral development bank lending power. In March of that year, at a roundtable Jubilee USA convened with Secretary Yellen, some of the US's highest-ranking religious leaders delivered the same request to her. The leaders represented the Catholic, Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian and United Church of Christ Churches, as well as the Union for Reform Judaism. 

Addressing a question on debt during Thursday's talk, Yellen remarked how debt restructuring not only serves the interests of the borrowers, it also serves the interests of the creditors. She elaborated that where debt reaches an unsustainable level, it stops the country from growing, developing and investing, and thus it cannot make payments.

“If we are going to be effective in reducing poverty in countries then we need debt to be reduced and more aid delivered to countries,” stated LeCompte. "Debt relief and sufficient economic aid must go hand and hand."

Read Secretary Yellen's speech here.

Read the World Bank Group Statement on Evolution Roadmap here.

Read the letter to President Biden and Secretary Yellen from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and Jubilee USA Network here

Read Treasury Secretary Yellen/Jubilee USA Network roundtable readout and release here.