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World Bank, China Announce Global Learning Conference

Representatives of the World Bank and the government of China held a joint press conference in Beijing on March 23, to announce the Global Learning Process and Shanghai Conference on Scaling Up Poverty Reduction. The event is being held as part of a global effort to accelerate poverty reduction by assessing practices and sharing valuable knowledge among developing countries.

The conference will be held in Shanghai from May 25-27.

Frannie A. Léautier, vice president of the World Bank Institute (the capacity

building arm of the World Bank Group); Li Yong, vice minister of finance; and Liu Jian, director of the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development, talked about the importance of the upcoming event.

The conference in Shanghai will bring 600 participants together to analyze 70 case studies illustrating successful and not-so-successful examples, highlighting approaches that proved highly successful in reducing poverty on a large scale within various economic, social, and institutional contexts.

Léautier stated that the World Bank, along with its partners, is sponsoring the conference because it is critical to share knowledge in order to expand, or "scale up," results across regions and countries. The conference marks the first time that developing country practitioners and policymakers from around the world will share their expertise about what works, what doesn't, and why, she said.

The bank is promoting this global dialogue to help reduce poverty on a large scale, calling on heads of state and multilateral donors to accelerate the fight against world poverty and find appropriate and sustainable solutions for achieving its Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015.

At the United Nations Millennium Summit in September 2000, world leaders adopted the Millennium Declaration, a set of common objectives with eight MDGs, which range from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education.

The main goals of the Shanghai conference are to uncover the economic, social, and governance components that have enabled some countries to reduce poverty on a large scale; to share these lessons across regions and countries; and to disseminate them widely to policymakers, practitioners and researchers.

The nine-month learning process leading up to the conference is using cutting-edge information technologies and communication tools to link major practitioners, including developing-country policymakers, politicians, donor agencies, academics, civil society groups and development institutions, said Léautier.

The 70 case studies will be presented and discussed at the conference through 20 multi-country interactive videoconferences, on-line dialogues, and 10 field visits to project sites in Bangladesh, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Turkey, Uganda, and Yemen.

"The emphasis on global dialogue is expected to yield usable knowledge that will help forge adaptive solutions," Léautier said. "This is the most ambitious learning program we have ever launched. But the real challenge begins after the conference: applying the knowledge to poverty reduction on a global scale."

Scaling up the fight against poverty can be defined as adapting and expanding positive experiences to suit local circumstances and contemporary times. Issues to be addressed include maintaining programs through changes in political administration or in the face of weak governance. Participants will also examine how to communicate lessons of experience effectively.

Vice Minister of Finance Li Yong said that the conference in Shanghai provides an important arena for exchange of poverty reduction experience.

"We in China look forward to a conference that is focused on action and call upon the international community to act together to achieve the Monterey Consensus. We especially call on developed countries to increase development aid, liberalize trade and expand technology transfer," he said. "We also hope that actions are taken by the World Bank to mobilize more financial resources to support poverty reduction efforts in developing countries."

Liu Jian added, "Large-scale reduction of poverty in China has major implications for the progress of poverty reduction worldwide. International financial assistance and experience in poverty reduction has contributed to the development of poor areas in China. I hope that this cooperation and exchange will continue and play a greater role in China's efforts to eradicate poverty."

The Shanghai municipal government is committed to providing full support to ensure success of the conference.

For more information on the Global Learning Process and Conference in Shanghai, go to: www.reducingpoverty.org.

(China.org.cn March 23, 2004)

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