WASHINGTON, DC, June 8, 2018–The World Bank (International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, IBRD, Aaa/AAA) is launching an initiative to engage investors on the importance of investing in the health and nutrition of women, children and adolescents to save and improve lives, including by using its Sustainable Development Bonds issuances to highlight these issues and demonstrate how private sector investment can support development financing. As a start, the initiative’s launch was marked with the issuance of a World Bank Sustainable Development Bond in the amount of CAD 60 million (USD 47 million equivalent).

When women, children and adolescents survive and are healthy, countries do better and can invest more in their priorities and in their people,” said Kristalina Georgieva, CEO of the World Bank. “We are raising awareness with investors and other financial market participants on why investing in girls and women is smart economics. It is a part of our Sustainable Development Bonds, which offer investors a clear opportunity to put their money to work to help countries reach their development goals.”

The initiative was announced as the Group of Seven (G7) Summit is being hosted by the Government of Canada in Quebec from June 8-9, 2018. The Government of Canada has long supported the empowerment and well-being of women, children and adolescents, including through the Global Financing Facility (GFF)—a multi-stakeholder partnership hosted by the World Bank. As a founding member of the GFF, Canada has invested CAD 240 million in the GFF since 2015, to support countries to expand their efforts to improve health, nutrition, sexual and reproductive health and rights, and education, with a particular focus on adolescent girls.

“We know that investing in the health and nutrition of women and girls benefits everyone—entire families, communities and nations. Healthy and empowered women and girls—especially adolescents—are our best asset in building a more peaceful, inclusive and prosperous world,” said Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, Canada.

Recent research shows that the world is losing out on USD 160 trillion because of gender inequality in earnings. One key determinant of women’s ability to participate equally in the workplace and in the economy is their health and well-being. Every year more than five million mothers and children die from preventable conditions. Even in better-performing economies where many of the world’s poor live, women, children and adolescents are not receiving the health, nutrition, education and other services they need to lead longer, healthier and more productive lives. An estimated USD 33 billion in additional financing is needed every year for investments that will save the lives of and improve the well-being of women, children and adolescents and enable them to contribute to their societies and economies. These investments, including through the GFF, are critical for countries to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), particularly SDG 3, which focuses on ensuring healthy lives and promoting wellbeing for all at all ages.

Through its Treasury, the World Bank mobilizes private capital from investors to support development projects and programs in countries. In many of these countries, women, children and adolescents in poor communities and rural populations are left behind as countries make economic progress, but still face financing gaps in health, nutrition, and sexual and reproductive health and rights, and education. The GFF uses innovative financing instruments such as loan buy-downs and co-financing grants to help countries  access financing from domestic resources, the private sector and development funding, to focus on results for women, children and adolescents.