CGD and Washington Post to host session with the nominees

CGD President Nancy Birdsall announced on Monday that the Center for Global Development and the Washington Post would co-host “a forum where the candidates could explain their vision for the bank’s future and be questioned by the media and members of the international development community.

This confirms that “this time is different”

For the first time the candidates offer a range of different skills and experience.  For the first time, the broader development community can take the measure of the three competitors before the World Bank’s executive directors interview them in private and make their consensus decision.  It also may reduce the temptation for prolonging the unseemly campaigning and slamming that, as a commentator on this blog put it “pretends this is a political campaign for President of the United States.”

Nancy Birdsall has also made it clear that it’s an invitation-only crowd: “I have asked my colleagues at CGD who are organizing this to endeavor to include a broad cross-section of the international development community. Inevitably, some people who want to attend will be disappointed. For that, I extend my apologies in advance and ask for your understanding, with the hope that the live streaming of these historic events on the Internet will ensure broad virtual participation in the proceedings.”  This should help maintain decorum, while allowing the widest possibly scrutiny by interested stakeholders world-wide through the live streaming CGD and the Post will organize.

Since questions at these public events in Washington often aren’t, Nancy and her co-convenor, the Washington Post’s Howard Schneider, should accept only written ones, on cards from the audience or submitted via the Internet.  We should rely on these two professionals’ integrity and good judgment to ensure that the broadest range of topics is covered, and that the candidates’ and attendees’ time is well spent.

US Vice President Joe Biden would tell you what kind of a big deal this is, and he’d be right.  No matter what the outcome, the process has been unlike any before now in the history of the World Bank Group.  Or any other international organization, for that matter.

This public meeting will also allow the candidates to show how gracious they can be.  Only one can be chosen.  If the others believe in the importance of the Bank, they should signal now that they will work hard to support the executive directors’ choice as s/he moves the Bank into new relevance, effectiveness and efficiency.

2 thoughts on “CGD and Washington Post to host session with the nominees

  1. Is this time different?

    This still looks like a coronation to me despite some of the trappings of a competition. Kim has been sent on a US-financed royal tour to re-assure the principal barons such as Japan of his lineage (a little suspect on the economics side of the family). He is even meeting some of the more distant, nouveau-rich neighbours, such as China and India. Unfortunately they and their other BRICS friends are too busy ‘transitioning’ to agree to support either the African princess despite her true neo-liberal blood or the dashing Latino who might turn out to be a little more radical. At least the European branch of the old royal family are meeting all three candidates, but they are too compromised by their deal to get their princess the IMF crown. This meeting is more old-fashioned courtesy than serious doubts. [The doubts appeared in two conservative London-based publications, close to Brussels court thinking.]

    I am left with the sense that the dice are just too loaded in one direction. We may want an innovative, inspirational leader, but the old ‘owners’ — the United States and Europeans – do not seem ready for change. Kim could yet be a bold innovator, but it is it far from clear that he could actually reform the institution, rather than be bullied into the old consensus agenda when the push comes from Treasury officials.

    Moreover, despite the North’s current vulnerability, especially Europe, the South, the emerging economies, are still seems badly organized in pressing its interests. The recent BRICS Summit showed that, if anything, they were already giving up on Northern promises of better governance in the BWIs and moving to create alternatives they could control, using their present enormous reserves as collateral. [ http://www.themarknews.com/articles/8352-can-the-world-bank-be-transformed%5D

    This is bad news for the longer-term in an inevitably multi-polar future. The richer countries of North and South will compete rather that cooperate for more sustainable, greener, growth and the really poor developing countries will be even more excluded, except when they are resource-rich.

    For me, another of those old insiders, the Bank’s owners are missing a great opportunity. The Bank needs a forceful leader, another Wolfensohn, who will push a change agenda for the institution, one that recognises a need for more focus, more customized instruments, and critically much more ownership by its clients, even the poor and fragile but especially the emerging and middle-income.

  2. Ngozi Okonjo Iwela comes with a better experience and a first hand understanding of the current situation at the world bank, I strongly suggest that she is given the position. Besides she is from the poorest continent where poverty and corruption are two major issues and her fight against both in the capacity of a supervising economy minister in her home country adds to her list of experiences that will enable her hit the ground running in delivery quality developmental programs in support of the the developing economies while helping the developed economies overcome huge debt crises.

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