World Bank and Wharton to youth: How to finance your future?

University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and the World Bank launched a competition to gather innovative ideas for funding the future of development. Photo by: Sergio Carreira / CC BY-NC

Financing global development has become a focus as negotiations draw to a close on a post-2015 agenda. Now the World Bank is partnering with the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School to gather innovative ideas from youth around the world.

This month, Wharton, the bank and its Youth to Youth Community, a steering committee of young employees at the global financial institution, are launching what they call their Ideas for Action Competition. They are asking young people between the ages of 18 and 35 to submit their ideas for funding the future of development.

Competitors are encouraged to think about domestic resource mobilization, better and smarter aid, international private finance, the domestic private sector, and business and development innovations.

Djordjija Petkoski, a lecturer at the Wharton School and a former World Bank employee, emphasized the importance of creative, outside-the-box ideas.

“You should shape the sustainable development goals,” he told a group of young professionals gathered at World Bank headquarters in Washington, D.C., on Thursday.

Petkoski also emphasized that participants should develop robust implementation plans to back up ideas, and thoughtfully consider the context and the place where a proposal might be carried out.

Submissions are due Jan. 31 and must come from two to five individuals.

The winner — or winners — will be announced in April; they’ll be invited to present at the World Bank Group’s spring meetings in Washington and the its annual gathering this October in Lima, Peru, said Demet Cabbar, financial officer in the World Bank president’s office of the special envoy.

They may also have the opportunity to present at the Organization of American States annual conference, Petkoski added; development leaders at the World Bank and elsewhere will help winners engage potential partners if their proposals warrant it.

This competition comes at a time when United Nations officials are preparing for the first of five intergovernmental negotiation sessions on the post-2015 development agenda, which will be held Jan. 19-21.

The international body has been criticized for not establishing a concrete plan to finance the Millenium Development Goals — a charge world leaders are seeking to avoid this time. In July, heads of state, ministers of finance, civil society leaders and other stakeholders will gather in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for the third International Conference on Financing for Development — and the focus is expected to be squarely on how to focus the post-MDG agenda.

Financing the post-2015 development agenda — what area of this all-important topic hasn’t yet received the attention it deserves? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

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About the author

  • Jeff Tyson

    Jeff is a former global development reporter for Devex. Based in Washington, D.C., he covers multilateral affairs, U.S. aid, and international development trends. He has worked with human rights organizations in both Senegal and the U.S., and prior to joining Devex worked as a production assistant at National Public Radio. He holds a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University and a bachelor’s degree in international relations and French from the University of Rochester.