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It matters a lot who runs the World Bank and it matters how the president is selected. So it’s heartening to see the reforms to the World Bank leadership selection process making a difference this time. Multiple candidates have been nominated. Three will be interviewed by the bank’s executive board next week. For the first time since the bank was created in 1944 there is competition. The process is also more open than ever before. The candidates’ names have been disclosed and there is intensive public debate on their relative merits (including a variety of views here at the Center for Global Development). In addition, the candidates are selectively turning to the media to make their case.
So far, however, there has been no public 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. I am therefore pleased to announce that the Center for Global Development and Washington Post are organizing a series of sessions with the candidates. Each session will begin with opening remarks from the candidate, followed by a discussion with me and Washington Post staff writer Howard Schneider. Howard will then invite questions from the audience, including members of the media. The events will be streamed globally on the Internet via the CGD website and Washington Post Live and will include questions for the candidates from around the world sent via email and Twitter. All three candidates have been invited; two, José Antonio Ocampo and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, have so far accepted.
Invitations to these events will be sent out shortly. 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.
With Jim Kim’s abrupt departure from the World Bank, there has been a swirl of commentary on questions of legacy, the best of which aim to answer the question, “how is the bank doing?” For large multilateral institutions like the World Bank, that’s a frustratingly difficult question to answer. Seemingly objective measures like volume of financing or sectoral targets are simplistic and bring their own value judgements about what the institution should be doing. Annual reports give us a narrative about institutional performance, but a heavily biased one.