Good Advice from Center for Global Development’s Nancy Birdsall

In a CGD “wonkcast”, Nancy Birdsall sets out some excellent criteria for the next World Bank president.

Ability to “corral” the World Bank’s resident, 25-person board onto a new agenda, including perhaps letting loose their grip on how the Bank runs, day-to-day, will be key.  This will involve personal and persuasive skills that the Bank has not seen much in evidence since Jim Wolfensohn’s departure nearly seven years ago.  Admittedly, Wolfensohn had a rocky start, and a stormy relationship with the Executive Directors at times, but once he realized that “what’s good for the Bank is good for Jim Wolfensohn, and vice versa” he moved the Bank to a new level of respect and effectiveness, with a Board that was fully behind him. Continue reading

And the winner of the poll is…

As we closed the World Bank president poll this week, over 15,000 people had voted for their favourite developing country candidate.

The result? Well, our friends in Indonesia came out in force, resulting in a landslide victory for Sri Mulyani Indrawati, an Indonesian economist and one of the current Managing Directors of the World Bank Group, who beat her opponents with a staggering 87% of the votes.

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Wasting time talking about people

There has been endless speculation in the media, fueled by CSO activism bordering on fantasy and hissy-fits, about names rumored and leaked to be in the running to replace Robert Zoellick on July 1.

Now is the time to tell the owners of the Bank, who will nominate candidates, and the Board, who will choose from among the three they shortlist, what profile the next World Bank president should have, beyond the generic criteria that the Development Committee endorsed. Continue reading

BRIC leadership and the environment: a dilemma?

An interesting recent article by Environment and Energy Publishing outlines a dilemma for environmentalists advocating for change at the World Bank. Green groups have long-called for a more democratic institution that genuinely addresses both poverty and environmental destruction in developing countries, and have often been prominent in arguing against the archaic convention that sees the US president appoint the Bank’s leader. But, on the other hand many environmentalists acknowledge that any potential candidate from the BRICs may put less of an emphasis on environmental issues than the US. Continue reading

The World Bank needs its own Lionel Messi to come off the bench

Below is a guest post from Jorge Daniel Taillant, formerly executive director of the Centro de Derechos Humanos y Ambiente (Center for Human Rights and Environment, CEDHA) in Argentina:

In most sports, when your front runners simply aren’t cutting the mustard, the coach looks to the bench for new and energetic blood, mostly to radically change the way in which the strategy is being executed, an altercation to the tactics that are simply not working. It is not surprising that radical changes to the business as usual line up often leads to early
entry success and can fundamentally change the game play.

In this regard, we’ve had enough of industrialized country leadership (in fact, practically of single country leadership) of largely fledgling international finance corporations such as the IMF and in many ways, also the World Bank, both historically aligned along the Washington Consensus and both dominated by European and US intervention. And both, with little to show in terms of success.

We need a Lionel Messi to come off the bench and work development magic, and while that may not be an Argentine in this case, it should be a candidate from a developing country, one that has shown the ability to make bold and assertive decisions to address modern development challenges. Continue reading

Campaigners launch action against Larry Summers nomination

A campaign group in the US has launched an online petition demanding that President Obama NOT nominate Larry Summers. The campaign group is called UltraViolet and it “fight[s] to expand women’s rights and combat sexism everywhere – from politics and government to media and pop culture.” Here is what their action says: Continue reading

What are the odds? And where are the Chinese?

We’ve been waiting with bated breath for the odds makers to get active. After all, free-market thinkers tell us that the market always has the best outcomes and sets the right prices. So surely speculation on this blog, and elsewhere in the media, will be wrong and the market will be right. Finally, yesterday, Paddy Power, an Irish bookmaker (betting site), answered the call. Of course they weren’t the only ones; John Cassidy of the New Yorker made up his own odds last weekend. But Paddy Power, with odds set by the frequency of bets, should give us the pulse of the market. Will they be right?

A review of the odds as of 21 Feb:

Larry Summers  4/11
Susan Rice  9/2
Hillary Clinton  9/2
Kemal Dervis  9/1
Tim Geithner  9/1
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala  20/1
Trevor Manuel  20/1
Lula da Silva  20/1
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Calls for developing country candidates growing stronger

With over 2,200 votes on the worldbankpresident.org poll within less than a week of its launch, the demand for developing world candidates has perhaps never been stronger.

Devesh Kapur, who co-authored the official history of the World Bank, calls the nomination process “dreadfully antiquated” in an article for the New Europe Post Online, arguing that the Bank in reality has little choice but to look to the growing emerging-market economies, rather than the indebted West, for resources. But they would then “rightly demand a greater voice in running the Bank”. Kapur lists Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva, Ernest Zedillo of Mexico and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of Nigeria, to name a few, as favoured developing country candidates. But he also doesn’t rule out Hilary Clinton as a credible candidate.

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