A preview of the unpublished book A CIVILIZATION WITHOUT A VISION WILL PERISH: AN INDEPENDENT SEARCH FOR THE TRUTH by David Willis. CHAPTER 1: INDIFFERENCE (Part 38). The following is a continuation of the keynote address given by James D. Wolfensohn, President, The World Bank Group at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, in Washington, D.C. on March 6, 2002, with the title “A Partnership for Development and Peace”.
What should the rich countries do? Third
Third, rich nations must take action to cut agricultural subsidies – subsidies that rob poor countries of markets for their products. Farm support goes to a relatively small number of agribusinesses, many of them large corporations, and yet those subsidies of $350 billion a year are six times what the rich countries provide in foreign aid to a developing world of close to five billion people. Yet there are powerful lobbies ranged against this action too. But the fundamental truth is that agricultural subsidies constitute a heavy burden on the citizens of developed countries, and a barrier to primary commodity producers in the developing world. With skillful political leadership, they can be cut back. But we need that leadership. And reducing these subsidies would have the additional benefit of yielding significant budgetary savings for governments of rich countries – savings far greater than would be necessary to create very substantial increases in aid together with any internal compensation that may be necessary.
What should the rich countries do? Fourth
Fourth, rich countries must recognize that even with action on trade or agricultural subsidies, there is still a fundamental need to boost resources for developing countries. We estimate that it will take on the order of an additional $40 to $60 billion a year to reach the Millennium Development Goals – roughly a doubling of current aid flows – to roughly 0.5% of GNP, still well below the 0.7% target agreed to by global leaders years ago. Budgetary realities may make it impossible to double aid overnight. But if a New Partnership is to work, we must commit to matching the efforts of developing countries step by step with a phased-in increase in aid – say an additional $10 billion a year for the next five years, building an extra $50 billion a year in year five.
Funding of the International Development Association (IDA)
As part of this support, donors must also conclude an agreement for the funding of the International Development Association (IDA) for the next three years. This program, which provides long-term support for countries with per-capita incomes below $2 a day, is critical for those living in desperate poverty. I believe that an agreement is close on this vital program; the time has come to put it in place. The poor should not be asked to wait.
The world’s leading industrial nations provide nearly 90% of the multibillion dollar arms trade
Does anybody really believe that the goal of halving absolute poverty by 2015 is not worth this investment? An extra $50 billion in aid would cost only an extra one-fifth of one percent of the income of rich countries. An extra $50 billion in aid would reverse the decline as a percentage of GDP that has taken place over the last 15 years. Contrast that with the fact that today the world’s leading industrial nations provide nearly 90% of the multibillion dollar arms trade – arms that are contributing to the very conflicts that all of us profess to deplore, and that we must spend additional monies to suppress.
Why we should do it
Let me repeat:
We should do it because it is ethically right.
We should do it because it will make a better, more understanding, more dynamic, and indeed more prosperous world for our children and our children’s children.
We should do it because it will increase the security of all of us, rich and poor.
We know that disease, the environment, financial crises, and even terror do not recognize national boundaries.
We know that imaginary walls will not protect us.