Good morning, I’m very pleased to welcome you all to our Annual Meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, which is, as you know, my first as the President of the World Bank.

An Important Moment

We are here at a very important moment in the history of the fight to eradicate poverty and create opportunity.

We’ve had some very impressive commitments recently in developing countries, including in some of the poorest countries of Africa, to deliver on improved performance and accountability.

We have had some similarly impressive commitments by the developed countries - at Gleneagles and at the World Summit in New York - to deliver more assistance.

As Prime Minister Blair has said, it is a deal for a deal. You can’t separate performance from assistance; they are mutually reinforcing.

The Results Agenda

It’s been a year of real momentum - with the potential to be a turning point. We now need to translate the promises and plans into action and results - for the world’s poor, and not only in the poorest countries.

And, of course, the development community is also responsible to those in the developed countries who are providing us the funds to help.

There’s enormous responsibility on the entire development community, including the World Bank Group, to help deliver results, and it starts with measuring and evaluating what we are doing.

In that respect, the Millennium Development Goals make an important contribution, because they give us at least one set of benchmarks of accountability - helping us see where we are succeeding as well as where we need to lift our game. As I said in New York, we all stand accountable; and it is time to deliver.

Africa as Top - but certainly not only - Priority

Obviously one of the regions where we most need to succeed is Africa, because it’s the one huge area of the world that has been falling behind in an era when other parts of the developing world have been making stunning progress (for example in China and India).

In sub-Saharan Africa, which has slipped backwards, roughly half of the 600 million people live on less than a dollar a day.

In its discussions on financing issues, members of the Development Committee are placing a special emphasis on Africa and to support these discussions, the Bank has prepared an Africa Action Plan aimed at using as effectively as possible the resources available for development in Africa over the next three-year period. What is different about this plan is that it focuses on tangible impact and measurable results - with more than 20 concrete actions.

It emphasizes broad issues of governance and growth, including the vital role of the private sector in job creation and poverty reduction. But it also gets down to specifics on supporting free primary school education, funding for much-needed infrastructure, defeating diseases such as malaria and HIV/AIDS, and doing more to support women who play such a crucial role in achieving development progress - but who too often are ignored by development planners.

Having visited Africa in June, I’m acutely aware of the challenges it faces. But I believe that Africa may be entering a new era; Africa can become a Continent of Hope.

That is, in no small measure, because people in sub Saharan Africa are holding their leaders accountable, and their leaders are holding themselves accountable.

Fighting Corruption

On corruption, standards of enforcement and administrative action are not just the responsibility of the leadership in developing countries. Because for every bribe taker in a developing country there is a bribe giver - often from a developed country - who needs to be called to account. The bottom line is that - now - we’re hearing talk, and seeing real action, on combating corruption.

I am grateful to Jim Wolfensohn for - among other things - having put the issue of corruption on the development agenda. As he acknowledged, it should have been on it long before he correctly described it as a cancer. But it is a very tough problem to solve, and it will be a high priority for this institution.

Other Issues on Results Agenda

Issues on our agenda include debt relief, trade, aid, health, education, infrastructure, agriculture, and women’s empowerment - among others.

We will be working to advance the debt relief agreement reached by the G8 to ensure that real additional resources flow to the countries most in need, as promised. We have been working with all parties - to move this forward. We are committed to getting it done, and we expect real progress at these meetings.

We will continue working to ensure that aid reaches the people who so desperately need it. We also will be measuring and evaluating progress; and encouraging more effective coordination among donors, because development is a team sport.

The Development Committee also will focus on trade - looking toward the pivotal Doha Round meeting in Hong Kong in December. Trade barriers are one of the biggest obstacles to reducing poverty and creating opportunity for the poor. Therefore, removing the barriers and subsidies that hurt small farmers and small businesses is an urgent priority.

Trade is at least as important as aid, because it offers the chance for sustainable, shared growth - and so it is no exaggeration to say that the future of millions of poor people around the world depends on achieving real results in the trade negotiations.

Tsunami Reconstruction

Finally, I would also note that, later today, I will be participating in a meeting on Tsunami reconstruction with former President Clinton - to review where we stand on making good on the extraordinary generosity of the Tsunami relief donors from around the world.