The ebola epidemic in West Africa is not just a health care crisis. It has affected every corner of society in the countries most affected. Schools have been closed for months, infrastructure projects have been put on hold and GDP growth has slowed to a crawl. A discussion of the social and economic cost of Ebola in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
The World Bank says 20 of the most troubled countries are making progress. Poverty has been reduced, more girls are being educated and fewer women are dying in childbirth. The good news came in a new report on the so-called Millennium Development Goal. But when looking at the world’s poorest nations, much of the news remains discouraging. And with the U.S. and Europe still trying to recover from their own economic troubles, resources for the world’s poor are even more strained. But Jim Yong Kim, the World Bank’s president, believes it’s possible to end extreme poverty.
- Jim Yong Kim president of the World Bank.
MS. DIANE REHMThanks for joining us. I'm Diane Rehm. Last summer Jim Yong Kim began his five-year tenure as president of the World Bank. The bank has long pursued a general mission of helping humanity's poor. Dr. Kim, a physician and former president of Dartmouth College, adopted an even loftier goal, eliminating extreme poverty by 2030. He outlines his plan of approach and action and the challenges of working in countries mired in conflict. He also says climate change could have the most harmful effects on the world's poorest nations.
MS. DIANE REHMDr. Jim Yong Kim joins me in the studio. I'm sure many of you have questions. We welcome you into the conversation. Call us on 800-433-8850. Send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, follow us on Facebook or send us a tweet. Good morning to you, Dr. Kim. It's good to have you here.
DR. JIM YONG KIMGood morning, Diane. It's wonderful to be on your show. I'm an avid listener and so it's fun to be on here.
REHMThank you. You know when your election was announced and you took the post of president of the World Bank there was a lot of talk as to why you were chosen. Tell us why you believe you were chosen.
KIMWell, I've been doing development for most of my adult life, starting, really, right out of college. I've been trying to work in some of the poor settings in Haiti, in the slums of Lima, Peru, more recently in Africa, Malawi, Rwanda and also in the former Soviet Union, Kazakhstan, Kirgizstan, the (word?). And so I've been doing development. And I think it was President Obama's sense that now, because the World Bank Group is the most important development institution in the world, that a development professional should lead it.
KIMAnd I'm actually the first person to lead the World Bank Group that's actually done development prior to taking the presidency.
REHMThat's a great answer. I think our listeners should also know that you won a MacArthur Genius Award back in 2003. And you served as president of Dartmouth College from 2009 to 2012. As I said in the billboard, you talked about ending extreme poverty in the world by the year 2030. Define for us what you mean by extreme poverty.
KIMYou know, it's a term that one of my predecessors, Robert McNamara coined. And he called it a situation of such degradation that it's a stain on the consciousness of the human race. In other words, people living on less than $1.25 a day is the number. It's hard to imagine, but there are 1.2 billion people who are still living in that condition. And having worked in places like rural Haiti, in the slums of Lima, Peru, I've known a lot of them. I've met a lot of them. And it is a situation that I think is so extreme that we just have to commit to eliminating it from the face of the earth.
KIMAnd this is the first time in history that we can actually see in a generation, we can end extreme poverty. Now, we're not gonna be happy if everyone's living on $1.26 a day. There's a lot more to do, but that's where our other goal, which is the building shared prosperity. In which we're really going to measure every year how the bottom 40 percent of a particular country is doing in terms of sharing and economic growth. So the extreme poverty is the great thing we have to tackle. This is really a shame on all of us, but it's not just those people. We want to also be able to help the people who are living in great vulnerability.
KIMThey may be above $1.25 a day, but one thing goes wrong, often it's something like health care expenditures, they can be plunged back into poverty. So it's those people who were most concerned about. And what we're also saying is that our poor countries are a primary focus, but it's not just poor countries. We're concerned about poor people everywhere.
REHMBut it sounds like such an impossible goal. Seventeen years from now, to end extreme poverty.
KIMWell, my friend Christine Lagarde at the IMF, in talking about this target said, timing is everything. And she's absolutely right. So if you look at the situation today, over the last five years, which are the countries that have been doing the best? And without question it's the developing countries. So the developing countries have grown on an average of over 5 percent over the last five years. And so if you think about, it's the added result of many good decisions that these countries have been making over the last 20 or 30 years that have allowed them to keep growing.
KIMIn 2005, the share of overall GDP growth that was made up by the developing countries went over half. So this year we think that the developing countries will grow over 6 percent. And if you look at some of the numbers, Europe will shrink 0.2 percent. Overall global growth in the world has been maintained by the developing countries. So we have an opportunity. If they can maintain that kind of growth and if the World Bank, the IMF, other organizations, bilateral donors, if we can continue our support and they can continue that growth, we can actually end poverty in a generation.
REHMConsidering the fact that that is your goal, what kinds of internal changes is the World Bank making or has it made since you came on board?
KIMWell, just recently, just a few weeks ago our country strategy for India was presented to our board. And what happened was, now that we have these goals, our team in India said, wait a minute. What does this mean for us? And so what it meant specifically is that the money that we are lending to India is going to go much more for the poorest states. You know, Diane, I just visited India. And I visited the largest state in India, Uttar Pradesh. Two-hundred million people living in a single state.
KIMAnd they are home to 8 percent of the people in the world living in extreme poverty. So Uttar Pradesh and other states that are the poorest are going to get a lot more of our attention. We think that's a good thing. Every organization has to have a focus, has to have a sense of urgency about what it's doing. And what these targets do for us is in every single country we're asking ourselves from straight forward questions. Is what we're doing going to help us end poverty and build shared prosperity? Are we doing the things that we have a comparative advantage to do?
KIMAre we doing the things that we're best at? And are we sure that we're going to have an impact? These goals are important for the world, but they're even more important for the World Bank Group.
REHMAnd clearly the World Bank Group is an enormous bureaucracy. So how does that bureaucracy change to deal with changing strategies toward the world?
KIMWell, we started a change process. I spent the first six months at the World Bank Group just listening to people. I walked through every single vice presidential unit. President Clinton, actually, is the one who called me and said, Jim, you have got to walk through the whole organization, get to know the people. And so I did. I walked through the whole organization, talked to folks, and what I heard from them was that they could be doing other things. We have outstanding staff and they could be working on Wall Street. There's so many things that they could do, but what they told me was that they came to the World Bank Group to fight poverty.
KIMSo I said, okay. So why don't we set a target for poverty? And then our group set to work on it and said we can do it. We can measure poverty every year. We can measure how well the bottom 40 percent is doing every year. We can announce it to the world. We can hold ourselves accountable. We want to do this. So it was really a goal set by the organization. And so now the next question I'm asking is, so then how do we need to change? We need to make our procedures more streamlined. We need to focus more on the poorest people in the countries like India. We need to be more effective at delivering knowledge.
KIMOne of the great advantages that we have is that we've been doing this for 66 years in, now, 188 member countries. We work now in over 100 countries, directly. So if we can take all that knowledge and apply it to help countries boost their economic growth, lift people out of poverty, then we would have done something truly historic. And the entire organization knows that we have to change to get there.
REHMJim Yong Kim. He's 12th president of the World Bank. He's a physician, former president of Dartmouth College. Do join us, 800-433-8850. Send your email to email@example.com. Talk about how the World Bank is funded and how what's happening in Europe, what's happening in the United States in terms of our economy is affecting that funding.
KIMWell, we have a kind of a complicated operation, but this is how it works. We have capital that was given to us in the early days. And what we do is we take that capital and then we can borrow more capital from the markets at times. And what we do is we lend it to countries who are not in the absolute poorest state. That's called the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, originally founded, interestingly, to rebuild Europe. But once the Marshall Plan came into place, the IBRD, as we call it, began evolving and becoming a development institution.
KIMWe have another funding stream called IDA, the International Development Association. And that's our fund for the poorest countries. Zero percent interest. It's over a very long period. It's some of the best money that any country can receive. But we also have a private sector wing, the International Finance Corporation. And they make equity investments, loans and go directly into developing countries through the private sector. We also have a guarantee agency. We provide political insurance. So if you make a private sector investment and the company is nationalized, if you bought insurance from the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency, we'll actually make good on the money that you lose.
KIMSo it's a vast operation. We make money from our equity investments and we make money from the loans. But every three years we have to go to governments to get money for the concessional wing, the IDA grants. We're in the middle of that process right now.
REHMJim Yong Kim. He is president of the World Bank. When we come back we'll talk more, take your calls. Stay with us.
REHMAnd if you just joined us, Jim Yong Kim, the 12th president of the World Bank is with me. He is a physician and former president of Dartmouth College. In 2003, he won a MacArthur Genius Grant. And my question for you as a physician is, there must be times when you're caught between wanting to medically heal the people you see and economically and wanting to provide for them.
KIMYou know, Diane, the great scientist and commentator Rudolf Virchow, who discovered the cell more than a century ago, used to say that medicine is just politics but small. In other words, he used to argue that you can see the impact of inequality and poverty in the bodies of your patients if you're watching. And so I've watched it for years. And now that I have a different set of tools, you know, what's essentially -- what do people want?
KIMAnd from the perspective of their health, what's most important? What's most important, of course, is that they have a job and that the health services actually work and that they can afford health insurance and that their children can go to school. Well now that I can work on all those problems simultaneously, I feel like I can take a much more holistic approach toward the well-being of people in the poorest countries.1
REHMYou said that India houses a very large population, there is desperately poor people. Where is that inequality getting smaller and better?
KIMWell, the great news there is that, first of all, just to give you a sense of the scale, more than 70 percent of people living in absolute poverty live in middle income countries. So they live in the big, rapidly growing countries. And what we found is that if countries focus specifically on tackling inequality, they can make tremendous progress. Brazil, for example, specifically said we are going to increase the consumption capacity of the poorest people in Brazil.
KIMBut we're going to link that direct support to education for children. Mothers are required to go to public health classes so they can learn about how to keep their families healthier. And the impact that we've seen of programs -- this one is call Bolsa Familia in Brazil and other is called Oportunidades en Progreso (sp?) in Mexico has been that it's not just kept them able to feed -- has not allowed them only to feed their children but has kept them in school.
KIMIt's kept them healthier and also it contributes to economic growth in those communities. So there are specific ways to do it. And we have been very strong advocates at the World Bank of these so-called Conditional Cash Transfer Programs in many countries in the world. So there are ways that you can do specifically that have a positive economic impact. And they are not just expenditures.
REHMWhat have been the bank's involvements in the Arab World, particularly in Arab Spring nations such as Egypt?
KIMWell, we're working right now to try to come to an agreement along with the IMF in Egypt in trying to put together a program. And we also have a loan that we're trying to get going. It's been delayed, but we're hopeful that it will happen. But then I just visited Tunisia. And this is of course the seat of the Arab Spring. And some of the things we've learned are, one, that the highest rates of unemployment in Tunisia are among college-educated people.
KIMThat's just one piece of data. It tells you that things are turned around in really interesting ways. What did we learn from Tunisia? I think what we learned is that if you just focus on growth of your gross domestic product, if you're just focusing on economic growth and you don't include young people, you don't include women, you're building instability into your society. Now, you know, there are some people who might say, no, inequality if fine.
KIMWell, we've got plenty of data that shows that you've got to work on inclusion and making sure that people participate. The Tunisians have a problem right now. What are they going to do about all these college-educated young people who don't have a job. There's a long history of having no faith in the private sector in Tunisia so they have to change the rules. But mostly, they have to be clear and fair about how they apply rules in the private sector.
KIMSo much of the private sector is dominated by the ruling family before the people don't trust it. So, Tunisia has a lot of work to do. We're providing literally billions of dollars to Tunisia. Tunisia has to be successful and we've got to also be successful in Egypt. There's just too much at stake for the entire region. So we're heavily involved in those countries and will remain so.
REHMI'd like to go back because you said that the World Bank had initial capital. Where did that initial capital come from? Where does its capital come from today?
KIMThe initial capital came from the donor countries. And we can give percentages of it. The United States gave about 15 percent -- right now, they have about what we call a share, 15 percent share. The Japanese are next at 9 percent. The Germans have about 5 percent. And so the original capital came from the donor countries. But what we've done over time is increase the voice of the developing countries in the debate.
KIMJust a few years ago, we increased the overall share of the developing countries and we added seats on the board, in this case specifically an African share in addition to the ones that we had. So it's evolved over time. Of course the donor countries still play a very important role. But the developing countries have played a more and more important role over time.
REHMHas the United States decreased its involvement to any extent?
KIMIt hasn't decreased its involvement. It stayed about the same. And of course they're an extremely important member country. But I think what's really happened over time is that the voice of the developing countries has just expanded, and especially the so-called BRICs countries, the large, rapidly growing middle income countries.
REHMSo when you think about the parts of the world that are currently in great disarray involved in violence, how does the bank stay involved with them if at all?
KIMWell, we like to think that this is our specialty. There's a term that we use, the so-called fragile and conflict-affected states. And we really, at the World Bank, have been -- it's a specialty of mine, I've worked in Haiti, I worked in Peru during the war with the Shining Path. I've worked in some really tough places. And my sense has always been that the best organization should be the most difficult places to work.
KIMSo, for example, we have a very large operation in Afghanistan. And as the troops pull out, we're going to be increasing our role. Because what the Afghanis -- what Afghani people need in order not to go back to the situation they were in in 2000. And there's a real risk of that, Diane. That's real. They need jobs. They need stable political environment. They need macroeconomic policies that make sense.
KIMThey need the kind of stability that comes from economic growth. And so we're in Afghanistan. We're going to be going to the Great Lakes region very soon, the secretary general and I. And we will be going specifically to tackle the problem of eastern Congo and try to come up with solutions that make sense for that entire region. We'll go to the Sahil. We feel that it's precisely those areas that are in greatest disarray where the World Bank really has to show itself.
REHMI wonder what your own reaction was to learning that President Karzai have received a total some $35 million over time from the CIA. When you think about the moneys that are needed in these developing countries, it took my breath away. I don't know about you.
KIMWell, without commenting on that in particular, I think that discussion is still ongoing. I can tell you, I went there and I met with President Karzai and I met with all of his ministers. And I put the issue out on the table. What is happening with corruption? And they admitted to me that there's corruption. Now, you know, we at the World Bank, we have such strict controls on our money.
KIMWe audit where the money is spent so carefully and our, you know, our team is out looking at these projects. And, you know, it requires heavily armored vehicles. We take quite a bit of risk being there. But we can follow our money very carefully. But there's so much money in Afghanistan that they admitted to me that there's corruption and that corruption is a big problem. So, we at the World Bank, what we can do is just to be extremely clear.
KIMI mean, on the first day on the job, I had to cancel a bridge project in Bangladesh because we had evidence of corruption. And it was an important bridge. It was one that would have huge development impact. It pain me personally not to be able to go forward. But the only reasonable stance, the only defendable stance that we can take is to have a zero tolerance policy for corruption.
KIMAnd we hope that by taking that stance, that will spread throughout the environment.
REHMYou also made climate change a big part of your agenda. And you said that it clearly affects the poorest of the world in the largest ways.
KIMYou know, Diane, I'm also the first person trained in science to be president of the World Bank Group. And so I thought it would be critical for me to learn the situation. So what I began learning was that things that we thought wouldn't happen, changes that we thought wouldn't happen until we got to 2-degree Celsius were happening now at 0.8 degree Celsius. And the more I looked at the scientific data, the more alarmed I became.
KIMI said, oh my goodness, you know, these extreme weather events clearly now related to climate change. The drought is clearly now related to climate change. And then as I traveled around the world, President Aquino from the Philippines, I stood up in a meeting and I started talking about climate change. And he stood up and he said, if anyone doubts the brutal impact of climate change, just come to the Philippines.
KIMWe're having flooding where there were droughts before. We're having droughts where there were flooding before. It's an unpredictable situation. The quality and accessibility of water is at stake. Some of the small nations are worried about disappearing. This is real. And for me, it became very personal. I have a four-year-old son, Diane. And if things go in the worst possible direction, which is in fact the direction we're headed right now.
KIMBy the time he's my age, he could be living in a 2-degree Celsius around the world. And in that case, Diane, the world would be frankly unrecognizable. And so, for me, it's fundamentally a question of what kind of world are leaving to our children?
REHMSo what can the World Bank do to invest?
KIMWell, we know that there are things like fossil fuel subsidies, for example. And fossil fuel subsidies are huge drag, hundreds of billions of dollars, on the budgets of government. And we also know that fossil fuel subsidies are mostly regressive. They don't help the poorest. And there are ways -- I talked to you about the Cash Transfer Programs. If you start with a Conditional Cash Transfer Program to protect the poor and then you remove fossil fuel subsidies, that's a wonderful way to protect the poor and also stop really giving these subsidies to mostly middle class and upper middle class people.
KIMIt's the rich that benefit most from it. And you can protect the poor from its impacts. So that we have to tackle, but it's going to be difficult because people go on the streets once you remove those subsidies. But it's way high up on the list of things to tackle. Another is a stable press on carbon. We need functioning carbon markets. There are -- the news is not good on that one right now.
KIMBut we've got to find a way to get there. In the meantime, Diane, we're working on this one. We have got to rapidly scale up access to renewable energy in the developing countries. And we're doing that right now with the secretary general. We've got to work on something that they call climate -- smart agriculture, which is ways of reclaiming degraded lands, putting into the ground kinds of plants that actually take carbon and put it deeper into the earth.
KIMThere's talk of varieties of corn that can fix its own nitrogen. There's a lot of really exciting things. We've done things in places like Kenya that have reclaimed those lands and put in these better varieties. So that, along with building cleaner cities, we think we can have an impact right now.
REHMAnd you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." We have many callers. Let's welcome them into the conversation. First to Houston, TX. Wilson, you're on the air.
WILSONThank you for taking my call.
WILSONFirst of all, I enjoy your show very much.
WILSONMy question to you, the young man, right now some of the countries that are improving -- showing economical development, countries in Africa like Ghana, Tanzania and Ethiopia, in particular Ethiopia (unintelligible) who's in favor of the young man's election came up with the minimal damages on the Nile River. My question is, in this kind of project, you know, is the World Bank in favor of it? If not, what's the reason why you're not supporting. Number two...
REHMI'm sorry, I'm having a hard time understanding exactly what that first question is, Wilson. Could you be a little more concise?
WILSONYes. The Ethiopia started the dam along the Nile River. And I'm sure the country has asked for help from the World Bank. So my question is, is the World Bank in favor of that dam?
REHMAll right. Is the World Bank in favor of that dam in Ethiopia?
KIMWithout discussing the details of that particular project, I can tell you that I think we have to really look again at hydroelectric power. I think that there's tremendous possibility for hydroelectric power. Now, there are a lot of people who are very concerned about the environment impact. But I think -- my understanding from our engineers and our experts in energy are that there's a lot of ways that we can use hydroelectric power now that are not going to have the devastating consequences on the environment that it had before.
KIMI think we simply must find a way of making these projects work. There's all kinds of innovative ways without creating a reservoir. You can do run of the river projects. Another possibility in Africa, of course, is geothermal energy. So hydroelectric, geothermal, there's tremendous possibilities in terms of both solar and wind powered microgrids for the rural areas. It is our responsibility now to look at every kind of clean energy that might have an impact.
REHMIs fracking going on in places around the world?
KIMWe're not involved in it. I know this was an issue before. You know, the thing that's difficult about my job and about the energy situation is that on the one hand, we know that climate change is a huge issue. We've got to tackle it. On the other hand, we don't think that our combating of climate change should be borne only by the poorest people. Poor people need energy. We still have to be committed to provide them the kind of energy that poor people need and poor countries need in order to grow their economies.
KIMAnd so, we have to find a middle ground where the poor countries and poor people have access to energy and quickly but that we move as aggressively toward renewables as we possibly can.
REHMJim Yong Kim, he is the 12th president of the World Bank. He's a physician, former president of Dartmouth College. We'll take a short break here. When we come back, we'll talk about weather and to what extent the World Bank continues to be relevant today. Stay with us.
REHMAnd if you've just joined us, Jim Yong Kim is with me. Dr. Kim is the president of the World Bank. He's also a physician, former president of Dartmouth College. Here's an email which says -- and this goes to the question of how relevant the bank is today -- the e-mailer says, "Some years ago I worked as a consultant at the World Bank and was shocked at the bank's spending on its own staff. Specifically private school, private college tuitions for the children of foreign national staff were paid for by the bank, although these employees were well compensated and certainly able to pay those family expenses out of their generous salaries." How do you respond to that?
KIMWell, that's an easy one because we've gotten rid of those. And
REHMIs that right?
KIMYep, yeah, we got rid of those and also there's been quite a bit of change in terms of the pensions. The pensions used to be much, much richer than they are right now. And, you know, the way I look at it is that we have to pay a certain level of salary to attract the brightest. And we're competing with the private sector far more than other multilateral agencies in the UN for example. I mean, the people that we want are the ones who could clearly make much, much more money. But we also have gone through the reforms and so we don't do that anymore.
KIMBut let me -- I'd put it another way. I think that the World Bank has never been more relevant. And for very specific reasons, ones I just gave you. You know, who else is going to go and be able to broker an economic development package along with the UN who focuses on the politics in a place like the Great Lakes Region in Africa or the Sahel. Or, you know, who's going to go in after the troops pull out of Afghanistan and be able to try to build a kind of economy that will keep them from going back to the situation they were in in 2000?
KIMWe're there. We're doing it. We have knowledge from 66 years of experience from over 100 countries we're actively working in right now. And tackling the problem of poverty and prosperity is something that every country in the world has to take on. Now, let me give you another quick example. Health and education. I would argue that for every country in the world how one deals with health and education as critical investments in human capital, the forces that will drive growth in the future, is going to determine their competitive position to a great extent.
KIMEvery country in the world needs help thinking more clearly about how to manage their expenditures in health and education. And we're going to step up and be helpful.
REHMAll right. To Little Rock, Ark. Good morning, David.
DAVIDGood morning, Diane. I'm thinking back to my college days in Western Civ when our teacher taught us about (unintelligible) economics, the dismal side. I guess he was the one who coined that term. When you have growth in GDP, that's charismatic, but it helps support a standard of living that makes the birthrate go up geometrically. So your population increases and your demand on resources and the division of the gross domestic product goes up geometrically while your gross product goes up charismatically. So unless you do something about the birthrate you're actually throwing gasoline on the fire to try to put it out.
KIMWell, you know, I also have a PhD in anthropology. And, you know, (word?) was right about some things and he was dead wrong about other things. And you actually see something quite different, that as societies develop economically, the number of children go down. And when we respect the rights of women to have health care, when we increase economic opportunities for women, when we ensure that girls can go to school, when we focus on the most important aspects of gender equality, which is a huge emphases for us, you actually see birthrates going down.
KIMAnd you see countries like Korea, which are have trouble having enough births in their country. They're really worried about population decline, as is countries like Japan. So, you know, the good news -- there's real good news here. The good news is that doing the right thing from a humanitarian perspective also, in the long run, has an impact on lowers the birthrate. But you have to be serious about it. You have to be really serious about the rights of women to control their own fate. And that means giving them more opportunities, which is something that's at the center of everything we do at the World Bank.
REHMAnd here is an email to follow up on that. How does the World Bank Group view family planning?
KIMWell, you know, this is not a main area for us. What we work on in health care is mostly focusing on health systems. You know, we're experts at logistics. We're experts at procurement. There are so many things that we do that are critical and the big push that we're working on right now is trying to get all the different monies -- I mean, the money for global health has exploded over the last ten years. And our big focus now is ensuring that all that money goes into forming functioning health care systems that are actually -- you know, can be hugely positive in terms of spurring economic growth.
KIMBut we have to ensure that the money is not fragmented. In terms of reproductive rights, look, I'm a physician. I've been working in this area for a long time. There's nothing more important, I think, for women then reproductive rights.
REHMAll right. To Jackson, Fla. Hi, Eric.
ERICGood morning. Why should someone like me or anybody else on the planet trust someone like you? I mean, you are basically -- and I don't mean to sound rude or anything -- but you're part of the global financial system which is -- in 20007, because of massive corruption in Wall Street, we had a global recession that just about brought the entire world to its knees. Why should we trust white ivy league wealthy people such as yourself who make tons and tons of money with -- why should we listen to anything you say? Why should we trust you with our future?
KIMWithout meaning to be rude you were very rude, but that's great. I'm glad for your question. Let me answer directly. First of all, I'm not white. I was born in Korea. I was born in a country, in fact, that when I was born in 1959 it was what we would call a fragile and conflicted state. It had very low levels of literacy, very low levels of college education. And through very focused and generous assistance, a lot from people of the United States I'm here today.
KIMAnd I'm not part of the financial sector. I've spent 30 years of my life trying to provide health care and education and housing and jobs for some of the poorest populations in the world. But, you know, having said all that, that's a good question. Why should you trust me? Well, I would put it this way. You don't have to trust me but look hard at what we do at the World Bank Group. We do not spend our time and effort trying to enrich already wealthy people.
KIMWhat we do is focus on the poorest. And what we're saying is, what is good for the world is that every country in the world does the best that it can in terms of growing its economy, lifting people out of poverty and ensuring that the bottom half of the population can participate. That's creates strong, stable societies. And by the way, it is the growth in the developing countries that has kept up demand for American products.
KIMAmerican people have a stake in ensuring that countries in other parts of the world are growing. Those are the markets that will purchase the goods that will be built once the factories start opening and hiring more people. We understand there's a problem with unemployment here in the United States. It's a serious problem. I've spent a lot of my time working in some very poor areas in Roxbury in Boston when I was a physician. I understand that there's poverty and that there's people out of work in the United States.
KIMBut what we believe firmly at the World Bank Group is that ensuring that the poorest participate in economic growth is the best thing we can do to assure our futures.
REHMHere is an email. "Why did the World Bank only recently start evaluating the effectiveness of programs? I realize this was before your time but why do you think it took so long? And how is the bank evaluating effectiveness now?
KIMWe have a very well-developed system for evaluating the outcomes of our programs. But let me just give some historical perspective. The phenomenon of evaluating carefully the outcomes of everything that we do and then turning back and saying, is that a good thing or a bad thing to do, is relatively new. So, you know, you wouldn't -- you couldn't imagine it but so-called evidence space medicine where we actually looks at whether this procedure to replace your knee was working better than another procedure, that's 30 years old.
KIMI mean, when I started medical school was the first time that we started talking about evidence space medicine. So it's a 30-year process. It's not like we've been doing it for 300 years. And so the science of measurement is evolving rapidly. And we got involved early on at the World Bank Group. You know, we're not as well developed in the development field as we are in the medical field, but we're getting there.
KIMAnd the other thing that we've done is not only have we gotten involved in it at the World Bank Group, bur now our results are online. My predecessor Bob Zoellick put into place a fantastic and radical shift. And we now have an open data system. So you can actually go online and look at our data.
REHMSo give me an example of how effectiveness measures and a country where you saw a particular tactic work.
KIMWell, you know, one of the things that we're looking carefully at, and we've looked at extensively, are these conditional cash transfer programs. And the things we look at are, did the money actually move to the women? Did the nutritional status of their children improve? Did they actually learn something about public health and bringing their kids for checkups more regularly? And so some programs were very good at monitoring. We need to be better at that all along.
KIMYou know, we measure whether or not a bridge is built. We measure whether or not the roads have been built. And we continue to follow that but this isn't a revolving field. We're committed to being the leaders in the world at letting everyone know just how tax dollars and our own resources have been used to produce outcomes in the field.
REHMAll right. To Camp Lejeune, N.C. Good morning, Bill.
BILLGood morning, Diane. I had one question. John Perkins wrote a book called "Confessions of an Economic Hit Man." And I just wondered what the World Bank president had to comment about that. It's pretty controversial. He gives a different light of what the World Bank and IMF are actually doing. And I just wanted to know what his thoughts on that were.
KIMI haven't read the book. Can you tell me a little bit about that -- yeah.
BILLIf you haven't read the book and you're the World Bank president, that's concerning to me because there's -- he's saying some things that are exact opposite of everything that you've painted about the World Bank. His book basically breaks down in detail how the World Bank and IMF basically steal the natural resources and the human capital from these developing countries for the gain of international corporations.
BILLAnd the book's really good. Diane, he'd be a great guest to have on because you only hear one side of the story with the World Bank. And, I don't know, I'm convinced. I read the book. What he says to me is what I see in reality.
REHMAnd Bill, I gather nothing that you've heard this morning has made you think otherwise.
BILLWell, some of it has. The problem that I have in today's world is, there's so much information out there...
BILL...it's hard to find the time to investigate everything yourself.
REHMWell, I am absolutely delighted that you tuned in this morning. And I'm sure that Dr. Kim will try to make a point of squeezing that into his reading schedule. And you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." Let's go to a caller here in Washington, D.C. Nichole, you're on the air.
NICHOLEThank you, and thanks for taking the time, Dr. Kim, to come on and talk and answer questions. Coming out of the turn-down-the-heat report you sent out a call to action to the world to act on climate. But the World Bank is still pushing fossil fuel projects around the world. And I'm thinking in particular of a coal plant in Kosovo. Despite the World Bank's former climate czar Dan Kamman actually saying that this plant was unnecessary, that there are cheaper and better renewable options, despite a large local grassroots resistance to the plant over concerns over health, (word?) already Europe's most polluted city.
NICHOLEAnd despite the fact that this plant would put Kosovo's brand new country into a huge amount of debt. One of my friends who lives in Kosovo who's been fighting this plant actually got a question into you at the World Bank's spring meetings as to why the bank is still supporting it. And you responded something to the effect that you wouldn't let Kosovars (sp?) freeze in the winter.
NICHOLEAnd he was actually rather offended by this because they're not freezing. They're trying to build a sustainable society and a healthy society. And they can't do that if they're locked into decades more coal pollution, and all the effects it has on health, on asthma, on children, especially when there are renewable options. So can you explain the rationale behind this project, because I'm having a hard time seeing it.
KIMWell, we're still looking carefully at it. And I said again and again and again, if anyone has an option that can move us away -- and I still -- and, you know, you say and lots of people have said there are all kinds of options. But when we look at everything from the finances to particularly what's happening in Kosovo, I still haven't seen the path away from this particular plant. The plant that's existing right now is one of the dirtiest in Europe, that's true. And so the option that they've asked us to support is a much, much cleaner option.
KIMNow let me just go right to the point. And so if there are other options, if there are cleaner options we'll take them. But there are just some countries that are in such a situation that the only option that is presented, at least to me, is the cleanest possible way of using fossil fuels. Now, you know, if the World Bank were to sit back and say, okay no fossil fuels for any country in the world, what we would essentially be saying is that given the technology, given the access to financing for renewables, given where we are right now, we would essentially be denying energy.
KIMSo I do not -- I will not be in a position where we're going to deny access to energy. In the Kosovo situation I've asked anyone around, give me a viable direct option for how we can actually finance a non-coal project and we will be very happy to look at it. But please remember, my job is to fight poverty. My job is to fight poverty and energy is required. We're going to try to be as clean as we possibly can be in every single situation. But if we are the last resort for providing energy to people -- and by energy I don't mean, you know, neon signs. I mean energy to keep hospitals running, to keep incubators running, energy to keep lights on in the schools.
KIMThis is what I'm asked for every day by the poorest countries. And I'm doing my best to find the cleanest solutions possible.
REHMCongratulations on your work, Jim Yong Kim. Twelfth president of the World Bank. And thank you for coming on this morning. I hope you'll come and see us again.
KIMThank you, Diane. I'd love to.
REHMThank you. And thanks for listening all. I'm Diane Rehm.
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