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Amidst political uncertainty, World Bank and IMF must recommit to combating climate change, inequality

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The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund cannot allow political and economic shocks to hijack their ambitions to combat climate change and curb inequality, warned Oxfam.

In the wake of the growing wave of populist and nationalist sentiment, both the president of the World Bank and the managing director of the IMF have defended economic growth through international trade and pushed for new partnerships with the private sector.

“Millions of lives are in danger of starvation; the world is feeling the effects of climate change; staggering wealth inequality is trapping people in poverty. The Bank and the IMF need to stand firm in the face of strong political winds and help the world find solutions to these huge challenges, “said Nadia Daar, the head of Oxfam International’s Washington office. Oxfam is especially concerned over the looming and unprecedented threat of four famines, affecting about 30 million people in Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen. Oxfam International’s executive director, Winnie Byanyima, is finishing a mission to Nigeria and South Sudan, and will be attending the Meetings later in the week to ask the international community for urgent help.

The severe food insecurity and malnutrition in Somalia is partly due to a severe drought worsened by climate change. On top of this, news reports indicate the Trump Administration could decide this week whether to remain a part of the Paris Agreement. The global community should not only defend the Agreement, but speed up its implementation.

“The world celebrated a remarkable moment of unity with the Paris Agreement; we need to build on it, not break it down. We’re counting on leaders at the Meetings to double down on climate action,” said Daar. “We’ve seen how poor families get left behind when the Bank turns to for-profit, low-fee schools,” said Daar. “Kim has to explain how the Bank will make sure their work with the private sector really helps communities, not just private investors.”

In past Meetings, IMF chief Christine Lagarde has spoken out against inequality and supported initiatives to crack down the abuse of tax havens by wealthy corporations and individuals.

“If the IMF wants to talk about growth, then it must also encourage big businesses and the rich to pay their fair share and discourage a global ‘race to the bottom’ on corporate tax,” said Daar. “Lagarde has to keep pushing for stronger international cooperation on taxes; otherwise, the world economy will remain hopelessly skewed in favor of a small handful of wealthy elites.”