op-ed to be published in the March 29, 2012 edition of the Financial Times,
President Obama’s nominee to the World Bank presidency, Dr. Jim Yong Kim,
discusses the challenges and opportunities the World Bank faces today in
poverty reduction and development assistance for global economic growth.
To read the piece online, visit
The full text of the piece follows.
My Call for an Open,
Inclusive World Bank
By Dr. Jim Yong Kim
We live in a time of historic
opportunity. Today more people live in fast-growing economies than at any time
in history, and development can take root anywhere – regardless of whether a
country is landlocked, just emerging from conflict or oppression, large or
small. If we build on this, we can imagine a world in which billions of people
in developing countries enjoy increases in their incomes and living standards.
Given our collective experiences, successes and resources, it’s clear that we
can eradicate global poverty and achieve in our lifetimes what for generations
has been a distant dream.
My own life and work have led me to
believe that inclusive development – investing in human beings – is an economic
and moral imperative. I was born in South Korea when it was still recovering
from war, with unpaved roads and low levels of literacy. I have seen how
integration with the global economy can transform a poor country into one of
the most dynamic and prosperous economies in the world. I have seen how
investment in infrastructure, schools and health clinics can change lives. And
I recognise that economic growth is vital to generate resources for investment
in health, education and public goods.
Every country must follow its own
path to growth, but our collective mission must be to ensure that a new
generation of low and middle-income countries enjoys sustainable economic
growth that generates opportunities for all citizens.
As co-founder of Partners in Health
and director of the World Health Organisation’s initiative to treat HIV/Aids, I
will bring practical experience to the World Bank. I have confronted the forces
that keep more than 1bn people trapped in poverty. I have worked in villages
where fewer than 1 in 10 adults could read or write, where preventable diseases
cut lives short and where lack of infrastructure and capital held back entrepreneurs.
In all those villages, the local people knew where improvement was needed.
But for change to happen, we need
partnerships between governments, the private sector and civil society to build
systems that can deliver sustainable, scalable solutions. And as we work for
global prosperity, we must draw on ideas and experience from around the globe.
My message is simple: an era of
extraordinary opportunity requires an extraordinary global institution. I want
to hear from developing countries, as well as those that provide a big share of
the resources to development, about how we can together build a more inclusive,
responsive and open World Bank.
A more inclusive World Bank will
have the resources to advance its core mission of poverty reduction. It will
have a governance structure that provides legitimacy and fosters trust and
confidence. The Bank has recently achieved a historic capital increase and
begun an ambitious programme to modernise its operations. It has also taken
important steps to increase the voting power and participation of developing
countries. If I am entrusted with the responsibility of leading the World Bank,
I shall ensure this continues. If the World Bank is to promote inclusive
development, it must give developing nations a greater voice.
A more responsive World Bank must
meet the challenges of the moment but also foresee those of the future. The
World Bank serves all countries. My focus will be to ensure that it provides a
rapid, effective response to their needs. I will come with an open mind and
apply my medical and social-science training to take an evidence-based
Finally, a more open World Bank
must recognise it does not have all the answers and listen closely to its
clients and stakeholders. I have led a world-renowned higher education
institution and I will ensure that the World Bank provides a platform for the
exchange of ideas. It is already working more closely with a diverse array of
partners and it can build on these changes. The Bank has taken significant
steps to become more transparent and accountable: it must continue on this path
Opportunity is nothing without
action. In the coming weeks, I look forward to hearing the views of the World
Bank’s constituents – clients, donors, governments, citizens and civil society
– as we forge a common vision to build an even stronger institution, prepared
to meet the world’s needs in the 21st century.
The writer is president of Dartmouth College and the US nominee for the
presidency of the World Bank