World Bank Group President David Malpass said Monday the Earth is seeing "tragic reversals in development" due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Malpass gave his assessment at a media roundtable in Washington, D.C., for the 2021 Annual Meetings of the World Bank Group, saying some countries are being set back by several years.
He said that the World Bank estimates the global economy will grow by 5.7 percent in 2021 and 4.4 percent in 2022. He added, however, that the global economy "remains dramatically uneven."
"The outlook is challenging for much of the developing world with lagging vaccination rates, rising inflation, limited policy support, too few jobs and shortages that extend to food, water and electricity," Malpass said.
According to him, the per capita income in advanced economies is expected to grow by 5 percent, while in low-income countries it is only expected to grow by 0.5 percent.
"We’re witnessing what I call tragic reversals in development across many dimensions. Progress in reducing extreme poverty has been set back by years — for some, by a decade," said Malpass.
"Median incomes have declined instead of risen. Women were disproportionately harmed during the pandemic. They are recovering less now in the recovery. There’s been a tragic loss in human capital, including children missing a year or more of school."
The debt owed by low-income countries also increased by 12 percent to reach $860 billion, according to the World Bank's International Debt Statistics.
Malpass called for policies to be redirected in both advanced and low-income economies so that growth and investments are more spread out. He cited the access and development of COVID-19 vaccines as the "highest priority."
"The World Bank Group’s support for the poorest countries is at an all-time high, including grants and highly concessional loans to countries eligible to borrow from [International Development Association]," he said.