The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) started the semi-annual session of their Joint Development Committee at the World Bank headquarters in Washington on Sunday.
The close-door session, known as the 79th meeting of the Development Committee, started at 9:45 a.m. EDT (1345 GMT) to discuss the implications of the global economic crisis for developing countries and the role of international financial institutions.
The meeting was convened as the spring session of the two institutions entered its second day.
The weekend session was held at a time when the world is haunted by the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression in the 1930s. It was the largest world gathering since the G20 Summit in London in early April.
The Sunday meeting gathered finance ministers and central bankers from 185 members of the joint committee in pursuit of ways to better combat the current global financial crisis.
The crisis, according to both the World Bank and the IMF, is far from over although recent data suggest that the pace of declining in some economies has slowed down and some signs of stabilization are emerging.
Low-income economies, many of which are in Sub-Saharan Africa, were until recently buffered from the crisis, since their banks and stock exchanges were distant from sub-prime meltdowns and collapsing investment banks.
But many of the world's regions now face recession. This means these poor countries are facing a slump in their exports, and their government budgets are badly stretched. In addition, foreign aid appears to fall short of donor promises at the very time when it will be most needed.
A recent annual Global Monitoring Report, published by the World Bank and the IMF to assess progress toward the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, has warned of "a development emergency" this year.
The report called for urgent global action to avoid the erosion of hard-won gains against poverty, hunger, illiteracy, and disease.
"The financial crisis has made the outlook for the 2015 goals more worrisome than ever," said Zia Qureshi, leading author of the report and senior advisor to the World Bank.
"Developing countries are going to need help to cope with the fallout from the crisis as it starts to severely strain their resources and affect their most vulnerable people," he said.
An IMF report, released just days before the spring meetings, said that the world economy is projected to decline by 1.3 percent in 2009 as a whole and to recover only gradually in 2010 with growth of 1.9 percent.
Each spring, the Joint Development Committee and the IMF's International Monetary and Financial Committee hold meetings to discuss progress on the work of the World Bank and the IMF.
The two world financial bodies opened the International Monetary and Financial Committee meeting here on Saturday.
The joint committee is composed of 24 ministers or governors of central banks from both rich and poor countries, representing the entire membership of the two international financial institutions.