Poverty Conference Conclusions

14 June 2000

The e-conference to discuss the World Bank’s Poverty World Development Report has concluded with a clear statement of what the WDR team plan to do to change their draft. Whilst many of the 1,500 conference participants endorsed the broad framework of the report a number of important questions were raised about its analytical concepts and conclusions. Lead author Ravi Kanbur replied with a detailed outline of the constraints he faces and the changes his team plans to make before the report is launched in late September.

Participants argued that the report does not include enough socio-political perspectives. Kanbur replied: “this WDR has gone further than others in this direction. Hopefully future WDRs will follow this trend. But the core analysis in a WDR is economic and that is unlikely to change.”

This reliance on economic approaches is clear in other replies. Responding to arguments that the report should be less growth-oriented, Kanbur stated: “the team cannot agree with this. We are very concerned with the patterns of growth, volatility of growth, with inequality, with the institutional basis of growth paths, etc., but to us the evidence is very clear that no country has had sustained significant reductions in poverty without economic growth over the medium term.”

“We take the point on environmental externalities, and will strengthen the link to natural disasters, but the answer to this seems to be in appropriate environmental policy as discussed in the global public goods section, not restricting rich country growth -especially since such restriction may feed back on poor country prospects as well.”

“In the revision we are more specific on the nature of pro-poor coalitions – especially the role of the poor themselves.”

Other responses covered topics including liberalisation, safety nets, Northern country protectionism, and rights-based approaches to patent regimes and climate change policies. On the latter Kanbur stated: “it is unlikely that we will be able to conduct a rights based analysis of this problem in the available time frame”.

The Bretton Woods Project and New Policy Institute have received many positive comments about this exercise. They and other conference participants will carefully scrutinise the final report, and work to ensure that the Bank’s external relations team does not mis-state the role of external consultation when the report is launched.

Final conference summary and response:

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Evaluation report available from: