The 2024 Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank Group (WBG) take place this week, 15-20 April, with climate finance set to be a key focus for discussion.

The Spring Meetings bring together policymakers, finance ministers, central bank governors, and stakeholders from both the public and private sectors, and this year will be exploring ways to free up funding for climate finance aimed at helping developing countries meet their commitments under international agreements. 

Many of the meetings will also centre around economic recovery — including addressing concerns around inflation, the impact of wars in Gaza and Ukraine, and the impact of AI on the world economy. How to tackle issues around inequality and fostering inclusive growth are other key topics on the agenda.

Climate finance: The need for reform

The World Bank, together with the IMF and international governments, play a key role in determining whether developing countries get access to the finance they need to cut emissions and adapt to the effect of the climate crisis.

UN officials and climate ministers including Denmark’s global climate policy minister Dan Jørgensen, Germany’s climate envoy Jennifer Morgan, and UN climate change official Simon Stiell will be in attendance in Washington, in a bid to supercharge talks on addressing the high-borrowing costs that leave many of the world’s poorest countries struggling with unsustainable debt.

These are the countries frequently bearing the consequences of climate change impacts such as rising sea levels, droughts and extreme heat, and yet are the least equipped to cope with them.

The UN climate chief, Simon Stiell, told audiences at the Chatham House thinktank in London last week (April 10) that the World Bank must take a “quantum leap” to provide new finance to tackle the climate crisis or face “climate-driven economic catastrophe”.

“For many countries, they will only be able to implement strong new climate plans if we see a quantum leap in climate finance this year,” he said.

Stiell has called for reform at the development banks, to introduce changes to the banks’ lending practices that would give poor countries greater access to finance.

“Business as usual will further entrench the gross inequalities between the world’s richest and poorest countries and communities that unchecked climate impacts are making much worse,” he said.

The centrepiece of the Spring Meetings agenda was the adoption of the World Bank’s “livable planet” framework and its eight ‘global challenges’. These being:

  • climate/adaptation
  • fragility and conflict
  • pandemic prevention
  • energy access
  • food security
  • water security
  • digitalisation
  • protecting biodiversity and nature

Since then, shareholders have been negotiating a financial framework to deliver on this agenda.

New leadership at the World Bank

All eyes will be on Ajay Banga, the new president of the World Bank, who was appointed last June after the resignation of David Malpass, a former economic advisor to Donald Trump.

Banga previously served as CEO of Mastercard between 2010 and 2020, during which time he played a significant role in leading the company’s expansion into new markets, particularly in the realm of digital payments and financial inclusion. He’s known for his advocacy for financial inclusion and the use of technology to empower underserved communities.

Workshops and events

Throughout the week there will be a number of workshops and discusssions around climate finance, accelerating the renewable energy transition in different regions, as well as exploring digital public infrastructure, bridging the digital divide, and making AI accessible for all.

Events such as the ‘Climate Voices: Working Together – Lessons from Costa Rica and Kenya’ event will look closely at the Resilience and Sustainability Fund (RSF)’s work to help countries address climate change challenges. Evidence from Costa Rica and Kenya will illustrate how the RSF can enhance climate resilience along with the World Bank and other partners.

View the full schedule here.

ITN Business’ upcoming programme

The Future of Finance: Building a Better Tomorrow will focus on the positive impact FinTech is making in society, looking at financial education for the next generation, sustainable transactions and encouraging the next generation into the industry. Presented by Nadira Tudor in ITN’s London studio, the programme will launch at Innovate Finance’s FinTech as a Force for Good Conference, 7th-8th October 2024.