James Wolfensohn quotes and sayings
December 1, 1933
Rebuilding Afghanistan is not going to be solved by pouring billions in. Getting rid of the Taliban does not rid us of the problems of fundamentalism and instability.
If you're changing the status quo, whatever move you make is disrupting something else.
My observation on most people in national governments is that they have very little interest in and very little knowledge of the multinational institutions.
In this time of globalization, with all its advantages, the poor are the most vulnerable to having their traditions, relationships and knowledge and skills ignored and denigrated, and experiencing development with a great sense of trauma, loss and social disconnectedness.
Today, you have 20 percent of the world controlling 80 percent of the Gross Domestic Product; you've got a $30 trillion world economy, and $24 trillion of it is in the developed countries... These inequities can't exist. So if you are talking about systemic breakdown, I think you have to look in terms of social breakdown.
I think that so-called capitalism and trade is a very important element in giving people opportunity.
So the first thing you need to do about conflict is to prevent it, and the best way of preventing it is by dealing with the question of poverty.
Many people of my generation grew up in developed countries thinking that the world was divided into two parts and that there was a wall round the developed world. They thought that poor people had no relevance to us. What happened on September 11 was that anybody who thought there was a wall now knows that there is no wall.
You can't compete globally unless you have appropriate communication skills.
First of all, the people left, and they're now coming back. What we have to do is try and help them regain their lives, and the cause of the need for the immediate money is to establish some system of government. You must remember that Kosovo was never self-standing, and so we have to create that government structure, and that's, in fact, what Bernard Kushner is doing on behalf of the secretary-general.
I think that's one of the reasons for the Sarajevo conference, that Yugoslavia, Serbia, return to the family of nations because enduring peace can only come when you have Serbia within that framework.
The poor people of the world tend to be the places that al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups can recruit.
If you want peace, you've got to deal with people; you don't just deal with objects. And whether they take it as a responsibility or not, the success or failure in Kosovo is going to be the success or failure of building, first, economic hope, and then trying to heal the damage that's been done.
I saw it with my own eyes: Israelis and Palestinians, arm in arm, walking off together and clearly pricing how you could get your truck to the top of the line or get it through at all. It was an absolutely transparently corrupt system at the border - you had to buy your truck's way across. I thought it was a disgrace.
I'm not at all sure that Israel can determine what happens in Palestine, the Palestinian territories.
The Bank had never used the word 'corruption' at all until I got there, and the reason for that was, as the general counsel pointed out to me, that quite a number of our shareholders represented were not immune from corruption in their governments.
Kosovo is an agricultural economy particularly. It also has a couple of good power stations that exported power, and the big cooperative which they had there in the mining field is no longer functioning. So there is no immediate employment available for people in the industrial sector. All that needs to be going. But you will remember that it is part of Yugoslavia, and much of its trade and its dependence was on Serbia and Montenegro.
Most people recognize that to create jobs is really the essential element in their drive against poverty.
If you have Palestinians who have no hope, who don't have a job, who've used up all their resources, the notion of getting rid of violence is a dream.
I was told 20% of the kids in Kosovo didn't know where their parents were. This is a dreadful problem. A woman that I was with, a doctor, had seen her house destroyed and her uncle, who was a professor, taken out and shot. She's there, anxious now, trying to build relations with the Serbs, and said that she was trying to do this, but she was underlying how difficult it is with these images in your mind. And I think that is what has caused this terrible bloodshed that occurred just days ago in relation to the Serbs that were shot. I think that there is a need for a period of healing.
What we need to do is increase the totality of money that is given to the poorest areas and then we can do more on prevention but we have crucial needs at the moment just to get people out of poverty and to get the eight hundred million people that go to bed at night hungry, give them some food and some hope.
In a democracy, you can be right and still lose power.
It is possible to have a public education system that works.
You can't wish away poverty overnight.
China never borrowed less than $3 billion a year during my tenure. They were the most significant client. They used the Bank not just for money but for the know-how.
The future is in our hands. We are not hapless bystanders. We can influence whether we have a planet of peace, social justice, equity, and growth or a planet of unbridgeable differences between peoples, wasted resources, corruption, and terror.
As you look at the flow of Muslim fundamentalism, or fundamentalism in various areas and various religions, they all play on the people who have very little.
I was deeply concerned then, and have become more concerned since, that unless we can deal with the questions of development and the questions of poverty, there's no way that we're going to have a peaceful world for our children.
The interesting thing about debt in most cases is that you have to pay it back. So if you build an overhang of debt, it becomes more and more limiting in terms of the prospect that you have.
I believe and still believe that the Chinese government puts great weight on the experience of the Bank in terms of development.
We have made a full frontal attack on corruption. The question is whether we can address the question of governance in developing countries and, particularly, corruption.
I have travelled in the country enough to know that the concerns of villages in Rajasthan will be very different from the issues in the villages of Tamil Nadu. Anybody who makes a general remark about India probably doesn't know India.
My view is to try and not demonize the Palestinians. I'm not denying that there are Palestinians who fire rockets and do terrible things; I know that that happens. But to get a fundamental solution, you have to have hope on both sides.
Well the specific role of the World Bank is to be ready with financial assistance immediately after this emergency takes place because you need to reconnect water, you need to reconnect power, you need roads, you need bridges, and that has to be done urgently.
The issue of poverty is not a statistical issue. It is a human issue.
But when someone is on a winning horse, and everything looks wonderful, it's very hard as an outsider to persuade them something is wrong.
If you enter the World Bank office in Washington, D.C., you will see written on the left wall, 'The purpose of the World Bank is to fight poverty with passion.' I had it put up there because I wanted something that unites us as an institution.
It's going to be possible to rebuild the physical aspects of Kosovo. I was there recently, and you get a sense of the destruction of homes. Infrastructure and the countryside is relatively untouched. I think the biggest problem will not be the physical reconstruction; it will be the emotional and mental reconstruction.
You don't succeed on corruption in five minutes. I wish one could.
The first thing that you need to deal with is the issue of equity and poverty.
The notion of the world as a village is becoming a reality.
When I travel, I make certain that I spend at least half of my time in the field. You have to get out to meet people that are in poverty, that are looking to improve their lives. That's something that you can't read in books.
Joseph B. Wirthlin
Dieter F. Uchtdorf
Julie Anne Peters
Roy Jones Jr.
Robert W. Service
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