Embracing the Poverty Challenge
Monday, 20th August 2001 at 1:08 pm
The President of World Bank James Wolfensohn mesmerised a capacity crowd in Sydney this month at a dinner hosted by Opportunity International Australia. Wolfensohn focused on globalisation and the poverty challenge urging Australians to be in the forefront of making a better world.
His passionate speech addressed the issue of globalisation, warning that it is just impossible for Australians, Americans or the British or anybody to think that they can live life behind a wall.
Figures suggest that in the next 25 years the planet’s population will grow from 6 billion to 8 billion people. Wolfensohn points out that most of that growth will be in developing and transition economies, and it is important for this generation and our kids’ generation to take a responsibility for what we pass on.
He says we will not solve the problem of poverty or consider global peace and stability unless we change our perception of poor people from the object of charity, to an asset for which you provide opportunity and on which you build a better world.
Since the speech, Wolfensohn along with the Foreign Minister announced an initiative called the “Virtual Colombo” Plan, which allows Australia to use its technological skills and the skills of Internet and communications to play a major role in the world in terms of ideas and leadership.
Wolfensohn says these are the sorts of things that Australia needs to do in order to project itself and in order to retain a leverage and leading position in a world that outnumbers it rather considerably.
He says Australia is well off in this because it is an immigrant nation. It has diversity, it has language, it has potential and it has a sense of fairness.
He made what he described as a ‘simple appeal’ to Australians to think that the size of the country notwithstanding, there is the possibility to make an important contribution.
He says we must remember too that good people with good ideas, with moral leadership, with ethical leadership, with good business sense, and with a clear sense of direction and purpose can make a big difference in the world.
He concluded that there is a real moment now to position the country and to position Australia in the forefront of the people who are good planetary citizens.
For a transcript of Wolfensohn’s speech including an Introduction by the Chairman of Opportunity International Australia, Brooks Wilson, click on the following web link: www.opportunity.org.au/jwtranscript.htm.