Development think tanks' 'tasks' for Jim Yong Kim

Jim Yong Kim is no superhero, but he may well have to be to implement all the changes the international development community is proposing he include in his “to-do” list when he starts work at the World Bank.

Vishnu Sridharan of the Global Assets Project said Kim should push the bank to address social issues, confronting topics such as “gender parity” in the Middle East or the caste system in India to further reduce the poor people’s headcount. The bank should not only focus on the poor to get widespread support in its programs, Sridharan writes in an article for Foreign Policy.

Nancy Birdsall of the Center for Global Development, meanwhile, told the Guardian Kim must reduce “hassle costs” for clients, especially middle-income countries. He should create new instruments to respond to cross-border problems such as drug resistance and climate change, and find “better” ways to help fragile and weak states.

For Jonathan Glennie of the Overseas Development Institute, however, Kim should set management right — and stand up if he must against shareholders’ vested interests — and not silence those who speak out against policies that harm, rather than help, the poor.

Andrea Cornwall, professor of anthropology and development at the University of Sussex, for her part, said Kim should “cull” the bank’s 9,000 economists — replacing them with a “more diverse crew” who have “some understanding” of culture, context and complexity. Jayati Ghosh, professor of economics at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, meanwhile, said Kim should regain countries’ trust in the bank. He said most people in the developing world see the bank as “working against their interests.”

Another suggestion came from Antonio Tricarico, coordinator of the Campaign for the Reform of the World Bank. He said Kim should put “financing development” back as the bank’s top priority. He said outgoing President Robert Zoellick “forgot about development” and instead transformed the bank into a global investment bank.

But for all that’s been suggested, calls changing the voting structures at the bank were still the strongest. Sridharan said Kim told the board of directors he is not afraid to challenge “existing orthodoxies” at the bank.

We have yet to see if he will live up to his words.

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About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.