Adieu, 2015 – an unprecedented year in global development; Salut, 2016 – making it happen

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2015 will go down in history as a year when the world decided that the time had finally come to set aside individual differences and to forge a new development paradigm for the planet. A paradigm which, if implemented successfully, will not only put an end to extreme poverty as we know it but will also reverse the threat of global warming and usher in a new era of sustainable global development.

The Finance for Development Conference, held in Addis Ababa in July 2015, prepared the much-needed groundwork for the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals, which were adopted by the global community in New York in September. As key players in the discourse on global development, the multilateral development banks stepped up to the plate as never before and articulated a joint position stating that the trillions of dollars that will be necessary to finance the SDGs needed a fundamental re-think in how development is financed. Financing development will no longer be about aid, but about a country’s own policies and finances and a partnership between Governments, development practitioners and the private sector.

Buoyed by the success of the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit in New York, the global community moved to Paris in December for COP21, where a historic agreement was reached to limit the increase in global average temperatures to below 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels. Developed countries agreed to reduce their emissions in absolute terms and agreed to provide financial and technical support to developing countries with respect to both mitigation and adaptation.

2015 has been a landmark year, not just for the international community, but also for the African Development Bank Group, which was well represented at each of the global events mentioned above and played a central role in articulating the hopes and aspirations of the African continent. During the year, not only did the Bank complete the process of relocating its staff from Tunis to Abidjan but it also bid farewell to its President, Donald Kaberuka, who had led the institution for the past decade. Following a transparent and hotly contested election, the Bank also welcomed Akinwumi Adesina, as the institution’s 8th elected President.

2016 beckons and the real work of translating the aspirations of 2015 into reality will now commence in earnest. The Bank’s Board has sent a very strong signal of support to staff and its management by approving an unprecedented 19 percent increase in the Bank’s budget. The road ahead for us is clear. Guided by the vision and aspirations of the Ten Year Strategy, the Bank’s role in coming years will be to light up Africa, feed Africa, industrialize Africa, integrate Africa and improve the quality of life for Africans. To deliver these goals, the institution must evolve into a centre of excellence where there is no role for mediocrity. We owe this to our shareholders, but most of all to our clients, who expect us to play our part as the continent’s leading development finance institution. Together we will make this happen!