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Financing for development and economic growth in Africa the topics of discussion at the World Bank Governors’ meeting in Helsinki

Ministry of Finance
Publication date 11.2.2015 17.00
Press release

The World Bank Governors’ meeting brought together an eminent group of Nordic and Baltic Ministers in Helsinki on 11 February. World Bank President Jim Yong Kim was also present.

The topics of discussion were, among others, the strategic renewal of the World Bank and this year’s voting rights reform. In addition, Africa’s economic upturn and combating the Ebola virus were discussed. Development of society and economic growth on the continent have been significant, but at the same time inequality between countries and regions has increased. The meeting noted that the World Bank must take this into account in its activities better than ever.

- The annual constituency meeting together with the President of the World Bank is an important opportunity to highlight the strategic priorities of the Nordic and Baltic countries. Promoting inclusive and job-creating growth and fostering economic equality between women and men are examples of strategic priorities important to us. We are particularly pleased that the reduction of inequality has risen to the centre of the World Bank’s strategy work, Minister of Finance Antti Rinne, chairman of the meeting, said when summing up the meeting.

- We also had a very interesting discussion on Africa’s economic development. The economy of Africa is growing and diversifying, but on the other hand there are areas of humanitarian crises on the continent, where extremist movements are becoming stronger. Intervention in unemployment, especially youth unemployment, and the promotion of trade and investment are therefore essential tools for development. Economic prosperity also promotes democracy, Minister of Finance Rinne added.

The changing role of official development assistance

Channels for financing and the altered role of official development assistance were also topics of discussion. At the same time, groundwork was done for the Conference on Financing for Development scheduled to take place in Addis Ababa in July, which is part of the process preparing the new sustainable development goals. The participants stressed the importance of developing both good governance and tax systems.

- It is important that the tax collection capacity and good governance are advanced in developing countries. The financing of new development goals is a huge challenge that requires new thinking. Financing for development requires cooperation and a multi-channel approach. Official development assistance still has its own important role, but at the same time both the private sector and developing countries’ own efforts are needed, said Minister for International Development Sirpa Paatero.

Finland, too, has received assistance from the World Bank, in the form of loans. Finland was in practice a developing country that received assistance for developing its infrastructure and industry.

- Finland got to her feet and at the same time the world has changed enormously. Despite the challenging economic situation, Finland has a genuine opportunity to influence, for example, measures to combat climate change through such actors as the World Bank. We for our part must bear responsibility for the world’s balanced development, but at the same time we must ensure that developing countries have the opportunity to take development forward themselves. Sustainable change arises when everyone is involved, Minister for International Development Paatero continued.

The Nordic and Baltic countries are important partners to the World Bank

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, who attended the meeting, thanked the Nordic and Baltic countries for good partnership.

- The Nordic and Baltic countries are important partners to the World Bank Group, President Kim stated. The Nordic countries have considerable expertise from their long-standing engagement in developing countries, and the Baltic countries have gone through an impressive transition since their independence. These countries’ experiences provide invaluable knowledge to development around the world.

The Nordic and Baltic constituency of the World Bank has the tradition of holding an annual meeting where the World Bank Governors meet together with the President of the World Bank in one of the eight capitals of the constituency. This year it was Finland’s turn.

The host of the meeting was Governor for Finland, Minister of Finance Antti Rinne and the hostess Deputy Governor for Finland, Minister for International Development Sirpa Paatero. In addition to World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, the meeting of Nordic and Baltic countries was attended by the Governors for Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Sweden, Norway and Denmark, or Ministers of Finance Jānis Reirs, Rimantas Šadžius, Maris Lauri and Magdalena Andersson, Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende, Minister for Trade and Development Cooperation Mogens Jensen, the Deputy Governor for Sweden, Minister of International Development Cooperation Isabella Lövin and Permanent Secretary of State Stefán Haukur Jóhannesson of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Iceland.

Additional information

Special Adviser Tuuli Juurikkala, Ministry of Finance, tel. +358 295 530 051
Adviser to the Minister Kaisa Korhonen, Ministry of Finance, tel. +358 295 530 602
Counsellor Leena Ritola, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, tel. +358 295 351 524
Special Adviser to Minister Paatero Sonja Kekkonen, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, mobile tel. +358 50 455 4680