Press Release: Joint Statement by the General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, President of the World Bank, and Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund

October 22, 2004

The following statement was issued on October 22, 2004, in Geneva Switzerland by Rev Dr. Samuel Kobia, General Secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), Mr. James Wolfensohn, President of The World Bank Group, and Mr. Agustín Carstens, Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF):

This afternoon, Rev. Dr. Samuel Kobia, General Secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), Mr. James Wolfensohn, President of The World Bank Group, and Mr. Agustín Carstens, Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), met together at the headquarters of the World Council of Churches in Geneva, Switzerland, to discuss matters of common interest, particularly development and related economic policy issues. Mr. Rodrigo de Rato, Managing Director of the IMF, was unable to participate in the meeting because of an official commitment, but met with Rev. Kobia earlier in the day. These meetings of the heads of the three organizations, in which a number of other representatives of the WCC and staff of the World Bank and IMF participated, followed several preparatory meetings held since May 2002. The series of meetings were initiated by correspondence expressing the wish of the managements of the two Bretton Woods Institutions (BWIs) to engage in dialogue with the WCC to improve mutual understanding of the organizations' work in development. Reviewing the discussions held since February 2002, including today's meetings, and looking forward, the leaders of the three organizations issue the following statement.

These discussions have been significant and useful. The WCC and BWIs have improved their mutual understanding of their positions on development and related issues. Areas of common ground but also differences of view have been identified. (See paper on "Common Ground and Differences of View between the Bretton Woods Institutions (IMF and World Bank) and the World Council of Churches", prepared by the staff involved in the discussions and available from the organizations). Central to the common ground is the fight against global poverty—particularly the extreme poverty that remains all too prevalent in much of the world. We all agree that poverty reduction at the pace that is needed requires policies to improve both economic growth and equity. We all emphasize the importance of keeping the focus of the global agenda, national leaders, and international organizations on the objective of poverty reduction.

In particular, at the present time, we all agree on the importance of the UN Millenium Development Goals (MDGs), which focus on eradicating extreme poverty and hunger; achieving universal primary education; promoting gender equality and empowering women; reducing child mortality; improving maternal health; combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; ensuring environmental sustainability; and developing a global partnership for development.

While each of our organizations can best serve the MDGs and the objective of poverty reduction that they represent by working in the respective areas of our mandates, responsibilities, and expertise, we believe that more can be achieved in making progress to our shared goals by improved communication and cooperation between the BWIs and the WCC, including through policy dialogue, case studies and advocacy, which can help increase the effectiveness of the international fight against poverty.

We agree on the need for sharing experience further on a range of policy issues of common concern, on some of which the BWIs and WCC have differences of view, including development issues such as approaches to development, financial markets, and the impact of globalization, along with economic policy issues such as those relating to macroeconomic stabilization, government budgets, and international trade.

The three organizations are committed to a continuing dialogue to increase further their understanding of their respective experience and learning, as well as to build stronger alliances where appropriate. A key instrument for the continuing dialogue will be a series of country and sector case studies.


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