Building a Movement to End Poverty

World Bank president to private sector: Take your money off the sidelines.

We are closer than ever before to ending global poverty. In a little more than two decades, from 1990 to today, the proportion of people living in extreme poverty (surviving on less than $1.25 per day) has fallen from 40 to 20 percent around the world. During that period, more than 700 million people lifted themselves above that threshold.

We are on the right track, but we need to do more. Poverty is falling, but it is not falling fast enough. Moreover, in certain fast-growing developing countries, income inequality has widened considerably in recent years. As a result, the World Bank Group has adopted two new goals: end extreme poverty by 2030 and boost shared prosperity by maximizing income growth for the poorest 40 percent in every country. Two key groups can play a central role to help achieve these goals: the private sector and civil society.

The private sector has an essential role to play if we are to end poverty by 2030. Over the past two decades, poverty reduction has been driven by the creation of millions of new jobs -- and 90 percent of new jobs come from the private sector. We also need the private sector to meet emerging economies' demand for infrastructure investment. Total foreign assistance for all countries stands at $125 billion a year, a substantial sum but still far short of what is needed. Over the next five years, for example, India has a $1 trillion gap in infrastructure financing, meaning that all the foreign assistance in the world couldn't meet its infrastructure needs.

That means we must leverage precious aid dollars to spur new private investment in the developing world. The potential is enormous. There are trillions of dollars invested in low-yielding assets in high-income countries, such as U.S. Treasuries or German Bunds. Imagine what could be achieved if even a small portion of that money were instead invested in developing countries, where potential rates of return are far higher, and where partnerships between the public and private sectors could bring crucial infrastructure and other goods and services to those who need them most.

The World Bank Group is helping governments improve their business climates and attract higher levels of private investment. Last year, our private sector arm, the International Finance Corporation, invested a record $20.4 billion in 103 developing countries, supporting 2.5 million jobs. Returns on these investments have been impressive: The average annual return on IFC's equity investments around the world over the last 15 years has been 20 percent. 

My message to private sector leaders is this: Take your money off the sidelines. Use it to earn good returns in developing countries, while lifting millions out of poverty. The World Bank Group can help.

In building a movement to end global poverty, the other key component is civil society. Civil society plays a vital role not only in delivering services to the poor but also in building movements.

Many know the historic outcome of the global fight against AIDS. Between 2000 and 2012, the number of people in the developing world taking life-extending antiretroviral medication grew from 50,000 to 9 million -- thanks in large part to U.S. bipartisan support for the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). But few people know that the origins of the AIDS fight can be traced back to the late 1980s, when a group of activists (some of them forming the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, or ACT UP) launched a series of high-profile demonstrations and also worked behind the scenes to address the scientific and political challenges involved in combating AIDS.

These activists helped bring about the adoption of the Food and Drug Administration's Priority Review in 1992, which expedited access to medicines from the private sector and saved thousands of lives. In 1993, the average standard FDA approval took 27 months. By 1995, the average FDA Priority Review lasted only six months.

That is the power of civil society, which has the ability to transform global consciousness around the world's greatest challenges. And that is the power I hope civil society will bring to the challenge of ending poverty. The World Bank Group will continue to partner with other multilateral organizations and civil society to generate global commitment and a sense of urgency for these goals.

We need the private sector to scale up investment in developing countries, to support job-creation, and strong, sustainable economic growth. We also need it to start thinking about a double bottom line -- the powerful possibility of both making a profit for your business and also being able to tell your children and your grandchildren that you are part of the movement to end poverty. This is part of a trend in the business world that we must do everything we can to nurture.

We need NGOs and civil society leaders to catalyze a global movement around ending poverty and building shared prosperity, focusing the world's attention on the biggest challenge of our time. We need civil society organizations to dream beyond their individual mandates -- to show us how their work is critical to the larger goal of ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity.

All of us, whether in government, civil society, or the private sector, have a stake in delivering solutions to end global poverty. That is why I would like to ask those in the private sector, government, and in civil society, to find new ways to work more effectively together.

For far too long, an unstated feeling of distrust has cloaked the broad discussions about new directions in development. Those in the private sector often don't trust NGOs. Those in NGOs often don't trust the private sector. If we are to bend the arc of history toward justice, and if we are to rid the world of the scourge of extreme poverty, we must think strategically and cooperatively. Foreign assistance is critical and will become even more important going forward. But it must work to leverage investments that both improve domestic capacity to generate tax revenue and enhance conditions for further private investment if we are going to have any hope of ending extreme poverty.

There is no movement yet to end poverty. That is my challenge to governments, civil society, and the private sector. Together, we must rise to the occasion and create a groundswell of momentum toward the world we all want -- one free of extreme poverty, with shared prosperity for all.

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National Security

The Willie Suttons of the Cyberage

Can we stop bad guys from getting into U.S. networks?

Criminal mastermind Willie Sutton famously quipped that he robbed banks because "that's where the money is." Modern-day cyber-Suttons follow the same basic logic; the problem is that the "money" is everywhere. The Internet that we rely on to casually IM, order books, and video-chat is the same one that synchronizes power generation, enables collaborative design of fighter jets, and transmits electronic medical records. And while consumer banks have evolved to limit their exposure to gun-wielding bandits, there are billions of highly valuable and highly vulnerable nodes on the Internet that are not yet adapted to the new cyber-realities. 

In the real world, federal authorities are massively outnumbered by professional hackers -- both freelance and state-sponsored -- who have the time and skill to penetrate our electronic perimeter. Meanwhile, the high-speed optical lines that carry data under seas and across continents allow adversaries to virtually stand on -- or in -- their targets long enough to find digital cracks and exploit them. In a cat-and-mouse game like this, patience is richly rewarded, and America's enemies can easily afford to wait.

Cybercriminals also enjoy three other advantages. First, they operate outside the jurisdiction of U.S. courts, making it virtually impossible for federal authorities to prosecute aggressors. Even if they can sometimes pinpoint the source of cyberattacks amidst the storm of digital data, there are few legal options available. As a result, America's best hope for protection is from the inside out, not the outside in: ferociously guard data and be more operationally tolerant of intruders in our midst. Indeed, we should assume that they are there already.

Second, the tools hackers use to find holes in U.S. networks are now automated. The days of pocket-protected nerds breaking into high security networks for kicks or glory are over. Today, highly trained professionals, sometimes employed by nation-states, work nine-to-five jobs to infiltrate networks -- both governmental and corporate -- and exfiltrate plans, intellectual property, and data. The United States needs a coherent program that attracts the best minds to guard the country's digital secrets; America's adversaries do a much better job of recruiting and training their human resources than the United States does at the moment.

Third, cyberattacks can be many orders of magnitude more profitable than robbing a bank. Launching them is essentially free, and the rewards in terms of cash and disruption can be astronomical.  Just three months ago, a man working alone with a laptop and ordinary network access nearly brought down the global Internet with a so-called "distributed denial of service" attack on the web filtering service Spamhaus.  Meanwhile, the average "zero day" attack -- a breach that occurs from a previously unknown vulnerability -- is embedded for 300 days prior to detection, according to a recent research report by the network security company Symantec. Latent infections and undetected holes can result in sensational escapades like the diversion in the year 2000 of 800,000 liters of raw sewage into a public park in Australia, and wickedly clever intrusions that siphon off credit card numbers from banks and clearinghouses, as has happened on numerous occasions.

According to Dan Geer of In-Q-Tel, a non-profit that invests on behalf of the intelligence community, the basic problem is that "detection alone is insufficient unless you have total surveillance of your network, which in reality no one does." That's correct, but we could have "total surveillance" of the software that runs at the network's endpoints. But better visibility would require a policy change, because both the public and private sectors are widely dependent on closed, proprietary, monolithic software systems that make true endpoint surveillance impossible. The federal government is especially stuck in this strategic trap, in part because the incumbent merchants and system integrators play off the fears of procurement officers about the make-believe risks and inflated transition costs of modernizing their enterprise systems. 

But such fears are unfounded. Many federal systems -- and practically all new ones -- could easily migrate to open source and standards-based software that is license free and costs about the same to configure, install, and operate. In addition to the cost advantages and performance benefits associated with open source software, it is also measurably -- even if counterintuitively -- more secure. Entrenched bureaucracies and heavily lobbied staffers are often confused about open source or open standard solutions, hindering progress toward their adoption and implementation. But it's not just a question of money anymore; the United States is compromised by customized and proprietary electronic infrastructure for the simple reason that closed solutions are closed to inspection. Open solutions, in contrast, attract constructive critiques and faster fixes.

The United States also needs to devote more resources to protecting assets that are irreplaceable if breached and irretrievable if stolen: data and personal identity. Inside-out approaches to cybersecurity -- driven simultaneously by advances in cloud computing and strict European privacy regulations -- are emerging with advances that enable service delivery without exposing data, even to the service provider. The government should accelerate this approach by re-allocating investments into technical solutions that "harden" the data core, making it much less vulnerable to infiltration, exfiltration, and eavesdropping. This, coupled to policy-driven mandates for openly architected, standards-based systems that are more resistant to breach and less expensive to maintain would transform America's cybersecurity posture from defensive and reactive to stable and confident.  

Cyberthreats are real and growing. While we can't stop the bad guys from getting into U.S. networks, we can prevent them from being able to steal, corrupt, or destroy what matters most. The U.S. government -- and its partners around the world -- can and should incentivize nascent efforts to better protect data and personal identity from the inside out. Until it does, the litany of recent sensational cyberattacks -- from the infiltration of the New York Times' networks, to the breach of renowned security company RSA, to a growing list of compromised federal websites -- will grow more serious, and U.S. national security more vulnerable.

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