First-ever meetings in Middle East to focus on challenges for the region and achieving the Millennium Development Goals
Dubai moves to the center of the world stage this weekend as the World Bank-International Monetary Fund Annual Meetings get underway. Government delegations from 184 countries as well as business leaders, journalists, civil society representatives and other observers are convening in the Arab emirate. In all, some 16,000 people are expected to attend the meetings.
For its part, the World Bank will sound a wake-up call for delivering on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which aim to halve the number of people living in poverty by 2015. With the target date just over a decade away, now is the time for global leadership on action for reaching the goals. There was unprecedented consensus around these issues at global summits in Doha, Monterrey and Johannesburg in 2001 and 2002. But momentum has slowed this year and it must be renewed.
The meetings will also shine a spotlight on the opportunities and challenges facing the Middle East. The World Bank is releasing four reports on critical topics in the region — trade, governance, gender and employment (the last will be released Friday in Dubai). And at a time when conflict casts a shadow across the region, the Bank will also reiterate the importance of the link between fighting poverty and investing in peace.
Nearly 1,500 journalists from around the globe will be attending. More than 80 representatives of civil society organizations from 30 countries will also be there. They range from a women’s organization in Algeria to members of Jubilee Zambia. The Government of Norway has provided financial support for over 40 CSO representatives from developing countries to participate in the Dubai meetings.
The Development Committee, a World Bank-IMF forum meant to build consensus among governments on key development issues, meets on Monday. The committee’s 24 members, usually finance ministers, meet twice a year at the Spring and Annual Meetings of the World Bank and IMF. Chaired this year by South African Finance Minister Trevor Manuel, the committee will discuss papers on several topics, including as aid financing, global monitoring of the MDGs, the World Bank Group’s infrastructure action plan and debt relief.
The plenary session of the Annual Meetings will take place Tuesday and Wednesday, with speeches by World Bank President Wolfensohn, IMF Managing Director Kohler and finance ministers, who usually head their respective country delegations. Several bilateral and multilateral meetings, such as donor gatherings for individual countries and a G-7 finance ministers meeting, will also be taking place on the sidelines.
Dubai is one of seven city-states that comprise the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It has grown from a small desert outpost in the early 1970s, when UAE was founded, to a major trading hub and business center for the Persian Gulf region. This year’s meetings will be the first held in the Middle East.