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The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank Spring meetings represent an opportunity for the world’s largest financial institutions to discuss global economic issues and explore solutions to pressing challenges, including climate change. This year’s meetings, scheduled to take place in Washington DC from April 10th-16th, come amidst growing calls for the reform of international financial institutions and increasing scrutiny of their approach to tackling the climate crisis.

Climate finance 

Climate finance is expected to be a key topic of discussion, particularly in light of recent calls for reform of the multilateral development banks (MDBs). The Capital Adequacy Framework review, for instance, calls for MDBs to take on a bit more risk to free up more climate spending. Meanwhile, the Bridgetown Agenda proposes a number of recommendations to create a fairer and more equitable financial system, including the rechanneling of $100bn of Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) from rich countries to countries in need through the IMF established Resilience and Sustainability trust.

Special Drawing Rights Rechanneling

Special Drawing Rights are an important tool for international finance, and the IMF made a historic allocation of $650 billion in SDRs to help countries recover from the global pandemic. However, the majority of the share went to rich countries that did not need this currency, with only 5% of the total share being allocated to the entire African continent. The rechanneling of SDRs proposed by the Bridgetown Agenda is a welcome development that could help to address this imbalance.

World Bank Evolution Roadmap

The World Bank Evolution Roadmap, which outlines how the World Bank Group will evolve its mission, operations, and resources, has been criticised by climate and development groups as insufficient and non-committal. The spring meetings will be an opportunity to set a pathway for a much bolder evolution roadmap that focuses on reforming the Bank’s structures and policies to make them more effective in tackling the current global challenges.

Another area of concern is the loan-to-equity ratio. While the World Bank has indicated that it may lower its equity-to-loan ratio by one percentage point from 20% to 19%, this is not nearly enough to generate the financing required, according to experts. Calls for the World Bank to take the lead on adopting the recommendations of the Capital Adequacy Framework review and take on a bit more risk to free up more climate spending are therefore likely to be heard during the spring meetings.

Expectations for World Bank President

The next World Bank Group President, US nominee Ajay Banga, is set to take over the leadership of the World Bank Group in July this year. The new president will be under pressure to deliver an ambitious evolution roadmap, which focuses on reforming the Bank’s structures and policies to make them more effective in tackling the current global challenges.

The upcoming IMF and World Bank Spring meetings present a crucial occasion for global financial institutions to engage in dialogue on worldwide economic issues and address urgent challenges. Climate finance is anticipated to be a major point of discussion, particularly in light of recent proposals for multilateral development banks reform, rechanneling of Special Drawing Rights, and the necessity for more aggressive evolution roadmaps. In the face of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and climate crisis, it is imperative that these institutions collaborate to establish a just and equitable financial system that fosters sustainable development for all.