Jim Yong Kim Bao Dandan/ZumaPress

A New Mission for the World Bank

The World Bank is considering cutting grants to organizations that support the provision of global public goods such as agricultural research and forest protection. But the Bank should be expanding, not reducing, its work in such areas.

WASHINGTON, DC – The Green Revolution is considered one of the great successes in the history of economic development. In the 1960s and 1970s, the creation and adoption of high-yielding cereal varieties transformed the Indian economy and saved billions of people from starvation throughout much of the developing world.

But today, the future of the institution responsible for the Green Revolution – a consortium of 15 research centers around the world called the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) – is under threat. The World Bank, one of its primary funders, is considering withdrawing its financial support.

On its own, this decision would be worrying enough. CGIAR’s mission is global food security, and basic agricultural research holds huge potential for providing economic returns to the world’s poor. But what is even more worrying is the signal the World Bank is sending: that it will no longer support the underfunded global public goods that are crucial to preserving the social, economic, and political progress of the last century.