Speaking at the World Government Summit (WGS) 2022, David Malpass, President of the World Bank Group, highlighted the risks of Mena countries failing to rise to development challenges that could have “serious implications for livelihoods and social stability across the region”. He said some 300 million jobs would have to be created in order to ensure these countries hit their development goals.
Stressing the importance of diversification, he told the audience that the Mena region’s interaction with climate change was “complex”, and that countries that were importers of energy and food were “vulnerable” to supply- and demand-side shocks.
Malpass noted that GCC countries were concerned about the global community’s desire to shift away from oil, but they needed to focus on sustainable performance and service delivery, adding that private capital could be mobilized to support state-owned balance sheets. Looking ahead to a future based on renewables, he suggested the GCC enthusiasm to invest in hydrogen was a promising direction.
“Renewables can replace fossil fuels for industrial and residential electricity generation,” he said, adding that there were key areas the Middle East could tackle that would have a major impact on emissions and electricity demand. He added that regional cooperation on energy can bring GCC financing and expertise to the rest of the Mena region and accelerate progress towards development goals.
He added the four key areas that these countries should focus on are deepening trade relationships, labour and capital mobility, investing in knowledge, and enabling a strong business environment.
Dr Mari Pangestu, Managing Director of Development Policy and Partnerships at the World Bank, also addressed the audience at the Dubai Exhibition Centre. She noted that the world faces multiple interlinked crises, and current geopolitical uncertainty will significantly erode near-term economic prospects, adding that governments needed to prepare themselves to be nimble in the face of rapid change
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