Concrete action to fight poverty needed at Annual Meetings of the World Bank, IMF

Washington, DC— Ahead of the Annual Meetings, international agency Oxfam urged the World Bank to sharpen and swiftly move forward on the new strategy to end poverty by 2030 and boost shared prosperity. Oxfam also called on the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to heed the lessons of recent austerity policies in Europe, and in Latin America and South Asia in the past, and clarify the role it intends to take in the debate on international taxation following the G20 in Saint Petersburg.

“The World Bank’s new strategy is a welcome development in an agency that has often worked in silos with no connecting thread of vision,” said Nicolas Mombrial, head of Oxfam’s Washington office. “But now is the time to move from rhetoric into action and develop concrete plans to bring the strategy to reality.”

Oxfam praised the strategy’s recognition that ending poverty is not just about income but a fuller dimension of wellbeing, as well as its intent to mainstream the fight against climate change, but urged an increased profile on  health and education and a stronger focus on reducing the gap between the rich and poor. Oxfam also called on the World Bank to ensure its private sector works benefits the poorest.

As efforts to revive the global economy continue, Oxfam cautioned the IMF that pushing austerity— even softened austerity policies – will only make things worse. In a recent report, Oxfam warned that an additional 25 million people across Europe could face the prospect of living in poverty by 2025 if austerity measures continue.

“The IMF should learn from the ruinous structural adjustment policies it imposed on Latin America, South-East Asia, and sub-Saharan African in the 1980s and stop promoting austerity policies, even if softened,” continued Mombrial.

Notes to editors

Oxfam will have a number of policy experts available during the Annual Meetings for interviews in English, French and Spanish. Interviews can also be arranged with Oxfam International executive director Winnie Byanyima and Oxfam America president, Raymond C. Offenheiser- bios below:

Winnie Byanyima is the newly appointed Executive Director of Oxfam International. She is a grass-roots activist, human rights advocate, and world recognized expert on women’s rights. Born in Uganda and trained as an engineer, she was the Uganda representative at UNESCO, served as a member of the Ugandan parliament, and founded the Forum for Women in Democracy, a national NGO in Uganda to champion women’s equal participation in decision-making. From 2004 until 2006, she served at the African Union Commission to improve the institution’s governance and equality by establishing a program on gender and development. In 2006, she became the director of the gender team of the United Nations Development Program, working on development, climate change and economic policy through the prism of gender considerations.

Raymond C. Offenheiser is the President of Oxfam America. With more than 30 years of international development experience as a field programmer, grant maker and executive in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the United States, Offenheiser is a recognized leader on issues such as poverty alleviation, human rights, foreign policy and international development. He serves as a resource and frequent commentator in the media and before diverse public fora on such issues as foreign aid, global poverty, humanitarian relief, international agriculture, human rights, climate change, global trade policies and corporate social responsibility.

Contact information

Laura Rusu +1 202-459-3739

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