Washington, USA. Central bankers, ministers of finance and development, parliamentarians, private sector executives, representatives from civil society organizations, and academics gathered for the Annual Meeting of the International Monitory Fund (IMF) and World Bank at the World Bank and IMF headquarters in Washington DC from 3rd to 9th October 2022.
Rohan Dominic, the Coordinator of the Claretian Team at the UN, represented the Fondazione Proclade Internazionale-onlus at the annual meeting. This yearly meeting of 2022 was focused on the pandemic, the Ukraine war, and decades-high inflation impacting the global economy.
The World Bank and IMF meet for their Annual Meetings amid a turbulent economic and geopolitical context, rising interest rates to soaring food prices, growing poverty and natural disasters caused by climate change, and the realization that the SDGs will not be met by 2030.
“And we will flag that the risks of recession are rising. We estimate that countries accounting for about one-third of the world economy will experience at least two consecutive quarters of contraction this or next year. And, even when growth is positive, it will feel like a recession because of shrinking real incomes and rising prices.” She further noted, “Overall, we expect a global output loss of about $4 trillion between now and 2026. This is the size of the German economy—a massive setback for the world economy.”IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said in the curtain raiser event.
The different sessions and side events organized by the private sector and civil society focused on a likely global recession, economic downturns, inflation, and climate challenges. In addition, climate change has been among the central topics of the IMF and World Bank meetings this year. Climate finance is a big challenge and developing countries will need $300 billion annually in additional funding to adapt to climate change.
“There is growing concern about the way the climate emergency disproportionately hurts the poor,” noted LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious development group Jubilee USA Network during the press conference held outside IMF.
There was a discussion on financial inclusion too. Nearly 24% of the world’s adult population remains unbanked. Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBCDs) could improve financial inclusion and benefit three distinct user groups—those without a bank account, smartphones, or internet access. A CBDC is a digital form of central bank money that is now widely available to the general public.
The Catholic bishops and other faith leaders from Africa issued a statement preceding the meeting of G7 and African finance ministers, which took place during the Annual meeting. They mentioned, “Less than three years after the biggest global recession in a century, the threat of recession looms again,” and “Budget shortfalls and unpayable debts have reduced the room for our countries to take the actions needed to protect the most vulnerable and restore prosperity.” Therefore, they requested, “The first priority is to remove the crushing burdens of unpayable debts, a call that we find consistently in the voice of leaders of diverse religious traditions, certainly those of the Catholic Church.”
Meanwhile, activists from different organizations staged several protests and demonstrations during the annual meeting. Activists blocked entrances to conference buildings and staged sit-ins. There was a vigil too. The protesters were expressing opposition to the funding of fossil fuels and demanding urgent action to tackle climate change and demanding the IMF and World Bank cancel developing world debt. They carried posters that said “World Bank of climate chaos,” “stop funding fossil fuel,” “Cancel debt,” “People over profit,” and “actions speak louder than words.”