Last Monday, three of TWC's spring programs, which included International Affairs, the Prudential Global Citizens Foundation and Hidalgo, gathered for an introduction to one of the largest development institutions in the nation's capital: The World Bank Group.
The World Bank's Focus
Students heard from Angelica Silvero, Head of the World Bank's Speaker's Bureau, who introduced the history and background of the institution. She explained that the Bank's main goal is to "eradicate extreme poverty by the year 2030." She shared that this is not just limited to fiscal poverty, but also addresses other dimensions such as:
- Clean Water
Spring interns learned about the history of the Bank and the reason it was created. Silvero informed interns that it was established in 1944 by an international community intent on doing everything in its power to prevent a third World War from occurring. The former Governor of the United Kingdom, who helped launch the Bank, "believed in governments handling businesses themselves." Today, it still runs with this goal in mind.
The first mission of the Bank was to rebuild a war-torn Europe and Japan. After nearly seven decades, it has expanded to cover a wider spectrum of developmental arenas including: infrastructure, rural, human, financial and social development. It also prioritizes groups such as women and children, and focuses strongly on employment, climate and governance.
Silvero ended the presentation by discussing how the World Bank also assists the United Nations by helping them achieve the eight United Nations Millennial Development Goals (MDGs), established during the Millennium Summit of in 2000. They include:
- Eradicating extreme poverty and hunger
- Achieving universal primary education
- Promoting gender equality and empowering women
- Reducing child mortality rates
- Improving maternal health
- Combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
- Ensuring environmental sustainability
- Developing a global partnership for development
Interactive Activity on the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)
The MDGs were established in order to help combat challenges still plaguing developing countries today. Silvero shared that while some of the MDGs are on track to being reached by 2015, such as eradicating poverty and hunger, many unfortunately are not on track. She had the group of TWC interns participate in an engaging activity where they were asked to discuss the MDG challenges and answer the following questions:
- Why has the world been able to cut poverty in half since the establishment of the eight MDGs in 2000?
- Why are some countries not on track to reach the eight MDGs by 2015?
- Why does the child mortality rate remain high even with less poverty?
- Why do you think there is a higher death rate for pregnant women compared to children?
The fact that the world has been able to cut poverty in half since the establishment of eight MDGs is a huge milestone. Victoria Gosnell, International Affairs intern and student at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, speculated there were a number of reasons. She believes it has to do with a wide range of "different elements including: economic growth, globalization, media attention and the growth of independent government." She also made sure to note that "political corruption and a lack of physical and political infrastructure" might be reasons why poverty is still prevalent.
The second question asked by Silvero addresses why many MDGs may not be reached by the year 2015. Rene Travis, International Affairs intern and student and Furman University, noted that indigenous societies still exist and the members of those communities "live in specific ways. They may not necessarily want electricity or a better infrastructure."
The third question addresses why the child mortality rate continues at the same rate despite a decrease in overall poverty. Sangamitra Sankaraiah, Prudential Foundation Global Citizens intern and student at Amity University, believes the child mortality has not decreased due to a "lack of awareness and healthcare facilities. And with poverty, it becomes much more difficult to care for children, especially with lack of clean water and hunger in poverty-stricken areas."
Christine Turner, International Affairs intern and student at the University of New Hampshire, provided her thoughts on the final question regarding a higher death rate of pregnant women compared to that of children. She believes that "gender equity needs to be a priority. Some 11 and 13-year old girls are getting pregnant and having children who are often not physically or mentally equipped to be having children."
The entire session was a comprehensive overview on past and present priorities of the World Bank. TWC would like to thank Angelica Silvero for hosting this special session for spring interns, engaging them in thought-provoking activities and providing a background to the concerns still plaguing the developing world today.