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Developing Countries to Exchange Poverty Fighting Solutions in Shanghai

In a few days the World Bank will sponsor a unique conference in Shanghai, hosted by the government of China, which brings developing countries together to share ideas on the best ways to boost the global fight against poverty. It marks a new way of doing business with affected countries driving the development agenda and exchanging the frank facts about what works in the fight against poverty, what doesn't and why. The aim is to come up with some pragmatic strategies that will reenergize the global effort to meet the Millennium Development Goals.

"Beyond resources we need fresh approaches to development that can take small successes in one country and scale them up to reach numbers that make a difference in reducing poverty" said World Bank President James Wolfensohn. "We need ideas that can travel from province to province, country to country, and around the globe. These ideas exist, and in many cases have been turned into reality by the poor themselves. But until now they have remained isolated, recognized only by a handful of specialists and pockets of grateful beneficiaries."

The conference is attracting leaders from key developing countries including: Presidents Lula of Brazil, Mkapa of Tanzania, Museveni of Uganda, and Prime Minister Zia of Bangladesh who are scheduled to make opening statements. More than 80 government ministers, along with one thousand development practitioners, public and private sector executives, academics, and civil society representatives are taking part.

At the conference, from May 25-27, they will pore over research conducted over nine months including more than 100 case studies, 20 video conferences and a series of field visits to try and identify the key factors that lead to poverty reduction.

The aim is to reenergize the global effort to meet the Millennium Development Goals which the world's leaders agreed to at the United Nations in September 2000. The first goal is to cut in half the proportion of the world's population living in extreme poverty by 2015, defined as people living on less the US$1 per day. By the same deadline, it is hoped dramatic progress can be made in the fight on HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education.

"Every year the worlds' nations spend almost 20 times more on building military might than on helping their poorest people build better lives. Today the need for global development resources is more critical than ever in a world where growing imbalances between rich and poor threaten political and economic stability," said Wolfensohn.

As a sponsor of this conference, the World Bank is helping developing countries share the vast knowledge they have about fighting poverty and helping them share their knowledge with the world.

"This is a conference on how to take successful programs and scale them up; how to enable poor people to be the central force for change and not an object of charity; and how to manage programs and policies over time to achieve results that truly make a difference in people's lives," said Wolfensohn.

Although more than 50 years of investment in development has helped lift millions of people from poverty, disease, and fear, 2.8 billion people still subsist on less than US$2 a day. Of these, 1.2 billion earn less than US$1 a day. They are hungry and vulnerable to climate changes, war, and sudden fluctuations in markets.

Some lessons are surfacing from the research: economic growth is critical but it must reach everyone and the poor must be in charge of finding solutions that meet their needs. People in developing nations have tremendous knowledge that can be shared to turn subsistence laborers into entrepreneurs.

"Achieving the millennium goals requires a new approach to development. It is hoped the Shanghai conference will tap the experience of the developing nations closest to the issues and put their knowledge to work around the globe" Wolfensohn said.

For more information about the conference and pre-conference events visit www.reducingpoverty.org.

- For live webcast of plenary sessions on May 26 and 27, go to: www.reducingpoverty.org

- Conference content on May 26 and 27 carried via AsiaSat 4 will be available to broadcasters across the Asia-Pacific region and linked to other satellites including the Opening and Closing Sessions; selected B-roll; opportunities for satellite media interviews with World Bank President James Wolfensohn and others; and Video Case Studies created in relation to the conference.

- Schedule of satellite feeds and other details, see Shanghai Media Portal http://www.worldbank.org/wbi/reducingpoverty/mediaHome.html

To learn more about the Global Learning Process and Conference, visit: www.reducingpoverty.org

- Contacts:

Sunetra Puri 202 473 2049 spuri@worldbank.org

Carl Hanlon 202 473 8087 chanlon@worldbank.org

(China.org.cn May 21, 2004)

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