‘It is time for us to become a solutions bank’

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim during the opening plenary of the IMF-World Bank annual meetings in Tokyo, Japan. Photo by: Roxana Bravo / World Bank / CC BY-NC-ND

On his first World Bank annual meeting, Jim Yong Kim came armed with a list of “early actions” he said are needed to keep the bank relevant in a changing global landscape.

“I believe it is time for us to write the next chapter in our evolution,” Kim said in his address to the bank’s governors on the fourth day of the annual International Monetary Fund and World Bank Annual Meetings in Tokyo, Japan.

As anticipated, he outlined a number of reforms to jumpstart the World Bank’s transformation from an institution “dreaming of a world free of poverty to achieving it.”

First on Kim’s list: to create a “clear and measurable bottom line” in the form of targets for the World Bank’s goals of ending poverty and building shared prosperity. An ambitious bottom line will force the bank to “take a hard look” at its operations and ensure functions are performed “as effectively as possible,” the president explained.

Next, the bank will “change incentive structures to reward implementers and fixers,” Jim said.  He added that he will ask the World Bank board to “streamline our procedures, simplify our processes, and cut down project preparation time.” Projects should not take two years to go from concept to implementation, Kim argued.

The third action is the development of a plan to spurt greater and better cooperation across various institutions covered by the World Bank. The goal, Kim said, is to improve the bank’s ability to provide its clients with “integrated solutions.”

“Fourth, we need to continue investing in data and analytic tools, building on the success of the Open Data initiative,” Kim said. “Data are crucial to setting priorities, making sound policy, and tracking results.”

As part of this fourth action point, Kim said the bank will help developing countries improve their data bases. The World Bank will also produce an annual report on its progress on reaching its two goals, he added.

These actions, Kim explained, are needed to transform the World Bank into a “solutions” bank that applies “evidence-based, non-ideological solutions to development challenges.” Such new strategic identity will help the bank move toward its “next frontier” of helping advance a “science of delivery,” the president said.

“This is how we will increase our relevance and our value in today’s and tomorrow’s global economy,” Kim added.

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About the author

  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.