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How can we achieve global prosperity? Reflections on the World Bank/IMF Annual Meeting


The 2023 Annual Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group were held in Marrakesh, Morocco from 10th – 14th October.  

At the Annual Meetings in Marrakesh, there were a number of events organised by civil society within the Civil Society Policy Forum to further a dialogue between diverse stakeholders around issues of social protection. This included an event co-organised and chaired by the Inclusive Social Security Policy Forum (ISSPF) titled Building a New Eco-Social Contract and Advancing Social Security in Times of Debt and Austerity, with panellists from the IMF, Human Rights Watch, Global Social Justice and Initiative for Social and Economic Rights (ISER) Uganda.  

In addition, several parallel side events took place in Marrakesh alongside the Annual Meetings. Civil society organisations and activists from various countries gathered to discuss routes towards ending global austerity and promoting increased investment in social policies, emphasising the need for justice and global solidarity to address interconnected issues. 

A number of these events were organised and led by members of the Right to Social Security Campaign, a group of organisations advocating for universal social security as a right for all, of which Development Pathways is a member. More information on the Right to Social Security Campaign can be found here.  

In Marrakesh, the Arab Reform Initiative initiated crucial conversations to shed light on the impact of International Financial Institutions (IFIs) on social protection (SP) in the Arab region. Panellists and discussants raised concerns about surcharges imposed by the IMF, with examples from Egypt and Tunisia illustrating the financial burdens on these countries and the impact this has on the capacity of governments to invest in important development agendas like social protection. The event also challenged the IMF’s stance on subsidy removal, emphasising the harmful impact subsidy removal continues to have on the living standards and wellbeing of large sections of the population. Many individuals and families live with low and insecure incomes in countries where removal is promoted without adequate transition to inclusive social protection.

Other events included a discussion on taxation in the MENA region, the role of IFIs in debt prevention and resolution, gender perspectives on macroeconomic policies and protecting the right to social security in our digital age. These sessions featured insights from various speakers, including IMF and World Bank representatives, global civil society organisations, and researchers.  

Other sessions addressed issues such as the concerning rise of global inequality (including an event featuring former World Bank Chief Economist, Joseph Stiglitz), the impact of IFI policies on women, and alternatives to austerity. Participants urged for a more comprehensive understanding of prosperity beyond the metric of GDP growth, consideration of the care economy, and the importance of analysing the gender impacts of past and future reforms.  

Throughout the meetings, civil society participants firmly asserted that social justice needs to be at the heart of how institutions like the IMF and World Bank operate. Participants articulated an urgent need to tackle inequality, end austerity measures, and ensure that IFIs do their part to promote economic justice and support governments to invest in inclusive social protection systems.