- International Monetary Fund
- Published Date:
- April 2012
© 2012 The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development / The World Bank
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This volume is a product of the staffs of The World Bank and The International Monetary Fund. The findings, interpretations, and conclusions expressed in this volume do not necessarily reflect the views of the Board of Executive Directors of The World Bank, the Board of Executive Directors of The International Monetary Fund, or the governments they represent.
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The painting on the cover is by Sue Hoppe, an artist based in South Africa. Titled “Resolution,” the painting explores the idea that people who seem irreversibly divided and with little in common can unite if they focus on what they have in common instead of what divides them. Hoppe’s work examines war, conflict, and the plight of children and women in Africa, but is also inspired by nature and architecture. To learn more about Sue Hoppe and her work, visit www.southafricanartists.com/home/SueHoppe.
Cover design by Debra Naylor of Naylor Design
Photo credits: page xvi: Masuru Goto/World Bank; clockwise for pages 10–11, beginning at top: Liang Qiang / World Bank, Curt Carnemark / World Bank, Curt Carnemark / World Bank, and Steve Harris / World Bank; page 15: Curt Carnemark / World Bank; page 16: Curt Carnemark / World Bank; page 19: Curt Carnemark / World Bank; page 21: John Isaac / World Bank; page 23: John Isaac / World Bank; page 25: Curt Carnemark / World Bank; page 27: Curt Carnemark / World Bank; page 28: Michael Foley; page 62: Arne Hoel/World Bank; page 94: Shehzad Noorani/World Bank; page 116: Alex Baluyut/World Bank; page 136: Michael Foley.
Every year, the Global Monitoring Report (GMR) gauges progress across the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), so we can better understand whether we are delivering on basic global needs. These needs include affordable, nutritious food; access to health services and education; and the ability to tap natural resources sustain-ably—whether clean water, land for urban expansion, or renewable energy sources. We assess how well the world is doing by looking at income poverty, schooling levels, the health of mothers and children, and inroads in treating HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis, as well as assessing how the international development community delivers aid. We also try to measure levels of malnutrition and hunger in the world. Food prices can affect all these indicators.
For these reasons, the Global Monitoring Report 2012 takes the theme of “Food Prices, Nutrition, and the Millennium Development Goals.” This year’s edition highlights the need to help developing countries deal with the harmful effects of higher and more volatile food prices.
In 2007–08 and again in 2011, soaring food prices held back millions of households from escaping poverty. Poor people in cities remain especially vulnerable to higher food prices, as do households headed by women. Higher food prices also affect the quantity and quality of nutrition—a critical factor for children in the first two years of life, when even a temporary reduction in nutritional intake can affect long-term development. This loss of nutrition can, in turn, set back a whole generation.
The GMR details some of the solutions for making countries and communities more resilient in the face of food price spikes. Strategies include using agricultural policies to encourage farmers to boost production; using social safety nets to improve resilience; strengthening nutritional policies to manage the implications of early childhood development; and designing trade policies to improve access to food markets, reduce food price volatility, and make productivity gains.
The implications of high and more volatile food prices vary widely at the regional and country levels. Large net importers of food—such as those in the Middle East, North Africa, and West Africa—face higher import bills, reduced fiscal space, and greater transmission of world prices to local prices for imported rice and wheat. Higher prices hurt consumers, who need to spend a greater share of their income on food, as is the case in much of Africa and Asia. Larger net exporting countries, such as those in Latin America, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia, stand to benefit. But they may also face internal pressure to help households that need to spend a large share of their budgets on food. The sequencing and prioritization of policy initiatives depends critically on a country or region’s initial situation.
Going forward, all of us—including traditional donors, new donors, philanthropists, and NGOs—must do better in fighting hunger, particularly by making more resources available for basic nutrition. For a start, this means including nutrition interventions in projects and programs when and wherever possible. At the same time, we need to design more effective policies, strengthen account-ability, and ensure that recipients can absorb vital assistance.
The GMR’s assessment of progress on the MDGs offers grounds for optimism. Global targets for overcoming extreme poverty and access to safe drinking water have been reached well ahead of schedule. Goals related to primary school completion rate and gender equality in primary and secondary education also appear within reach. Other goals, however, require a real push, particularly regarding child and maternal mortality, and access to improved sanitation facilities. MDG gaps are starker when the focus is on individual countries and achievements per region, where disparities persist.
Macroeconomic performance will play a critical role in meeting the MDGs. Progress that was made possible by the relatively strong economic growth of developing countries prior to the global financial crisis has been set back. The recent weakening of the global economic environment has implications for overcoming poverty in emerging and developing economies, and it is important that the advanced economies undertake the necessary macroeconomic policies to bring about strong and stable global growth.
A key concern lies with the low-income countries, where macroeconomic policy buffers—such as fiscal, debt, and current account positions—have not yet been rebuilt to levels before the crisis. If they have to confront another sharp global slowdown or another surge in food or fuel prices, these countries would start from a weaker position.
We have made important progress in pushing forward toward meeting the MDGs—but the year 2015 is just around the corner. We have three years to ensure that billions more people will have the opportunity to benefit from the global economy. The need for cooperation on focused steps to achieve these goals has never been greater.
Robert B. Zoellick
The World Bank Group
International Monetary Fund
This report has been prepared jointly by the staff of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. In preparing the report, staff have collaborated closely with partner institutions—the African Development Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Inter-American Development Bank, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the Food and Agriculture Organization, the European Union, the UK Department for International Development, and various NGOs, such as Oxfam International and Save the Children. The cooperation and support of the staff of these institutions is gratefully acknowledged.
Jos Verbeek was the lead author and manager of the report. Lynge Nielsen led the team from the IMF. The principal authors and contributors to the various parts of the report include Mohini Datt, Annette I. De Kleine Feige, Ian Gillson, Rasmus Heltberg, Maros Ivanic, Bénédicte de la Briere, Hans Lofgren, Maryla Maliszewska, William J. Martin, Jose Alejandro Quijada, Eric V. Swanson, and Sergiy Zorya (World Bank), and Sibabrata Das, Stefania Fabrizio, Yasemin Bal Gunduz, Svitlana Maslova, and John Simon (IMF). Sachin Shahria assisted with the overall preparation and coordination of the report. The work was carried out under the general guidance of Justin Yifu Lin and Hans Timmer at the World Bank. Supervision at the IMF was provided by Hugh Bredenkamp and Brad McDonald.
A number of other staff and consultants made valuable contributions, including the following from the World Bank: Abebe Adugna, Harold Alderman, Lystra N. Antoine, Jean Francois Arvis, John Baffes, Saswati Bora, Andrew Burns, Grant Cameron, Gero Carletto, Iride Ceccacci, Shaohua Chen, Loriza Dagdag, Christopher Delgado, Asli Demirgüç-Kunt, Leslie Elder, Neil Fantom, Ariel Fiszbein, Delfin Sia Go, Anna Herforth, Masako Hiraga, Hans Hoogeveen, Alma Kanani, Norman Loayza, Alessandra Marini, Dominique van der Mensbrugghe, Menno Mulder-Sibanda, Israel Osorio-Rodarte, Martin Ravallion, Anna Reva, Bruce Ross-Larson, Julie Ruel Bergeron, Cristina Savescu, William Shaw, Meera Shekar, Yurie Tanimichi Hoberg, Robert Townsend, Jonathan Wadsworth, and Ruslan Yemtsov.
Contributors from other institutions included: Duncan Green and Richard King (Oxfam); Naomi Hossain (Institute of Development Studies); Kate Dooley and Daphne Jayasinghe (Save the Children); Fredrik Ericsson, Kimberly Smith, and Suzanne Steensen (OECD); Indu Bhushan (Asian Development Bank); Amy M. Lewis (Inter-American Development Bank); Jennifer Keegan-Buckley and Jean-Pierre Halkin (European Union); Chris Penrose-Buckley (DFID); Murat Jadraliyev (EBRD); Anita Taci (EBRD); and Patricia N. Laverley (Africa Development Bank).
Guidance received from the Executive Directors of the World Bank and the IMF and their staff during discussions of the draft report is gratefully acknowledged. The report also benefited from many useful comments and suggestions received from the Bank and Fund management and staff in the course of its preparation and review.
The World Bank’s Office of the Publisher managed the editorial services, design, production, and printing of the report, with Aziz Gok-demir anchoring the process. Others assisting with the report’s publication included Denise Bergeron, Susan Graham, Stephen McGroarty, and Santiago Pombo-Bejarano.
The report’s dissemination and outreach was coordinated by Indira Chand and Merrell Tuck-Primdahl, working with Vamsee Kanchi, Malarvizhi Veerappan, and Roula Yazigi.
Abbreviations and Acronyms
Asian Development Bank
African Development Bank
acquired immune deficiency syndrome
Agricultural Market Information System
body mass index
Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa
Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research
country programmable aid
Development Assistance Committee
Department for International Development (U.K.)
European Bank for Reconstruction and Development
Food and Agriculture Organization (of the United Nations)
foreign direct investment
Group of Eight
Group of 20
General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade
Global Food Crisis Response Program
Global Income Distribution Dynamics
Global Monitoring Report
gross national income
Global Trade Analysis Project
human immunodeficiency virus
Inter-American Development Bank
International Finance Corporation
international financial institution
International Food Policy Research Institute
Living Standards Measurement Study
maquette for MDG simulations
multilateral development bank
Open Aid Partnership
official development assistance
Organisation for Co-operation and Development
public finance management
purchasing power parity
producer support estimates
regional trade agreement
sanitary and phytosanitary
Scaling Up Nutrition
technical barriers to trade
United Nations Conference on Trade and Development
World Food Programme
World Trade Organization
All amounts are presented in U.S. dollars, unless otherwise indicated.