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Photo Credit: The Economic Club of Washington, D.C./Joshua Roberts

The Honorable Robert Zoellick

President, World Bank | January 17, 2008
World Bank's Zoellick linked economic development to stability.

Robert Zoellick engaged in a far-ranging conversation with Public Broadcasting Personality Judy Woodruff, who also took questions from Club members. The world is globalized and integrated, Mr. Zoellick said, and growth in developing countries is likely to continue, even given uncertainties in U.S. markets. The World Bank, concerned about much-publicized corruption in investment programs, is investigating specific cases, working with partner countries, and adopting strategies to build structural integrity into programs. The Bank does not give away money, he stressed, but lends it and invests it. The Bank invests in poor countries and also in so called middle-income countries, such as China and India, which also have large populations of poor people. China, for one, is showing interest in helping other countries and in launching into cutting-edge issues, maybe health care, maybe environmental.

According to Zoellick, the Bank works best when it brings together three elements: knowledge and learning, markets and institutions, and finance. He said, “The Bank’s role is to ensure that the multilateral economic development system includes the poorest, the developed, and those in between.” Zoellick warned, “You better pay attention to what’s going on in China, in India, in the Middle East, in different areas, Russia in some respects. We can try to create the conditions, to create some economic development and hope in the Middle East. They’ve got a real youth bulge in these countries and they’ve got to create jobs and opportunities and they’ve got to figure out how to integrate women effectively into that workforce. What we do, and what we do in development, will make a big difference in terms of whether the world is a place that breeds trouble or creates opportunity.”

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