An Indian woman picks out lemons left discarded as rotten on the edge of a vegetable market SHAMMI MEHRA/AFP/Getty Images

The World Bank Needs to Return to Its Mission

With a clear plan, the World Bank would be able to find partners to help it support progress toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, which has been disappointing so far. Instead, the Bank is adopting an approach that would leave poor countries mired in debt, by relying on Wall Street to finance their basic needs.

NEW YORK – The World Bank declares that its mission is to end extreme poverty within a generation and to boost shared prosperity. These goals are universally agreed as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. But the World Bank lacks an SDG strategy, and now it is turning to Wall Street to please its political masters in Washington. The Bank’s president, Jim Yong Kim, should find a better way forward, and he can do so by revisiting one of his own great successes.

Kim and I worked closely together from 2000 to 2005, to scale up the world’s response to the AIDS epidemic. Partners in Health, the NGO led by Kim and his colleague, Harvard University’s Paul Farmer, had used antiretroviral medicines (ARVs) to treat around 1,000 impoverished HIV-infected rural residents in Haiti, and had restored them to health and hope.

I pointed out to Kim and Farmer 18 years ago that their success in Haiti could be expanded to reach millions of people at low cost and with very high social benefits. I recommended a new multilateral funding mechanism, a global fund, to fight AIDS, and a new funding effort by the United States.