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close this bookOvercoming Global Hunger (WB)
close this folderAssociated event- the ethical dimensions of global hunger: a panel discussion
View the documentOpening statement
View the documentStatement
View the documentStatement
View the documentStatement
View the documentFloor discussion
View the documentClosing statement

Closing statement

Ismail Serageldin

We could spend all evening discussing this subject, and there are some here who could speak very eloquently, but who did not tonight Muhammad Yunus will have an occasion to address us in the plenary tomorrow. I see Alan Berg sitting in the back I have sometimes called him the conscience of the Bank on hunger issues, and he has always been quiet, but the quiet of the wise I think He did not need to have anyone hold his feet to the fire to result in his playing such a key role in which the World Bank's funding of nutrition went from US$20 million or US$30 million a year five or six years ago to some US$680 million this last fiscal year. It was his strong personal commitment and motivation that led him to do so He is silent here, but I receive electronic mail messages from him every night and they keep me going. There are many others here who are equally committed.

I would like to end on two notes First, Ido not feel that the Bank is somehow inherently insensitive to global hunger or incapable of addressing it. My career in the Bank speaks to the fact that did not suffer too much from my commitment to end poverty and hunger I cite a complaint about the Bank that came from a source whom I think most people in this room, just by the self selection of comma to this panel, would consider a compliment This person was one of the real extreme right-wing ideologues who believe that the only business at the Bank should be the promotion of the private sector When asked what he thought about the appointment of Lewis Preston to head the World Bank, that person said, "You know, this World Bank is a strange place It doesn't matter where the president comes from McNamara came from Defense Tom Clausen came from the commercial sector Barber Conable came from Congress Now Lew Preston is coming from Wall Street. No matter where they come from, within two weeks of landing there,, they start talking about poverty.”

I think this quote speaks well of the institution I am glad that president after president of the Bank has reaffirmed this institution's goal.

Second, I think that what we all are seeking in this conference and the spirit that we must take from tonight and the next two days is perhaps best summed up in the famous words of Robert Kennedy: '´There are those who look at the world as it is and ask 'why?' while others look at the world as it could be and ask 'why not?"' We should all be looking at the world as it could be and asking why not.