World Bank brass heads to Tokyo

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim. Photo by: D. McCourtie / World Bank / CC BY-NC-ND

If New York topped global development headlines last week, expect Tokyo to take the scoops in a few days.

The Japanese capital, after all, is hosting the 2012 annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. The Oct. 9-14 meetings will convene finance and development ministers from 187 member countries along with central bankers and leaders from the public, private and nonprofit realms.

This is actually the second time this year that member countries of the IMF and World Bank are convening to discuss pressing global development and financial issues. The two institutions host a similar annual event – the aptly named spring meetings – every April. An important distinction between the two events: The board of governors of the IMF and the World Bank only convenes during the annual meetings typically held in September or October.

And while the spring meetings are always held at Washington headquarters, the fall meetings head to another country every few years. This year’s gathering is in Japan because the 2010 and 2011 annual meetings were held in Washington.

Japan wasn’t the original host for this year’s gathering. The meetings were set to be held in Egypt but moved last year due to the uprisings in the region.

The development challenges exposed by these uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East will be among the key themes of this year’s meetings. In particular, the World Bank is hosting a panel discussion focused on job creation, a theme that’s in line with the latest edition of the bank’s World Development Report.

What else will be discussed at the annual meetings? The European debt crisis will again factor prominently. But panel discussions and seminars are also set to cover the U.S. fiscal situation, sustainable development, Asia’s growing influence in world affairs, and the importance of investing in global health.

Global health is an issue that could allow the new World Bank president to shine. Jim Yong Kim, who has a background in health care, is attending the annual meetings for the first time, and analysts have speculated that he may increase the bank’s focus on health issues.

Want to catch Kim at the meeting? He and IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde are set to meet civil society representatives Oct. 10; they will attend separate press briefings Oct. 11, the same day Kim will join a panel discussion on women in the private sector, among other activities. The next day, he will join Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Japan International Cooperation Agency President Akihiko Tanaka at a seminar about the post-2015 global development framework.

Here’s the full schedule of events to take place at the annual meetings. Which ones are you most interested in? What other issues do you want IMF and World Bank to pay more attention to?

Read our previous DevTrivia.

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    Ivy Mungcal

    As senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributes 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.