In case you haven’t heard, three candidates were nominated for World Bank president in March: Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the finance minister of Nigeria; Dr. Jim Yong Kim, the President of Dartmouth College; and José Antonio Ocampo, a former finance minister of Colombia and former under-secretary general of the UN. While the future is uncertain, one thing is for sure: we believe that these three candidates have the capability to take the Bank in the right direction, and have the world’s poorest people in mind.
How do we know? Just take a look at their amazing backgrounds. Their experience in international development and finance is hard to beat:
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the finance minister of Nigeria, has been a member of the board of ONE since 2010. Minister Okonjo-Iweala is a true leader in Africa. She served as Managing Director at the World Bank from 2007 –2011, and has complementary experience as finance minister of Africa’s most populous nation, where she led the process of rescheduling Nigeria’s debt and is now tackling the state of its public finances. While the Bank’s mission is not and never has been solely Africa-focused, it is fair to say that its programs and initiatives are more important to Africa than to anywhere else, and are likely to remain so for some time. Minister Okonjo-Iweala’s nomination marks the first time in recent memory that the name of an African who is widely acknowledged to be qualified to lead the Bank has been placed in nomination. Dr. Jim Yong Kim, the President of Dartmouth College, has been a good friend of ONE from its earliest days. The pioneering Dr. Kim has dedicated his life to public health issues around the world, including co-founding Partners in Health and holding senior positions at the World Health Organization. At ONE, we worked with him closely on our global health campaigning and have nothing but the highest respect for his talents, skills and dedication. José Antonio Ocampo, a former finance minister of Colombia and Under-Secretary General of the UN, would bring to the Bank experience in government, in international institutions, and as one of the world’s leading development economists -– an impressive trifecta.
And just as an FYI, this is the first World Bank president selection process that includes non-US candidates. Traditionally (because of a gentleman’s agreement made many years ago), the US gets to choose the Bank president, while Europe gets to choose the IMF head. But in 2009, the G20, meeting in Pittsburgh, promised that “the heads and senior leadership of all international institutions should be appointed through an open, transparent and merit-based process.” And while this year’s process may be a step in the right direction, it’s important that the Pittsburgh principle be reaffirmed whenever appropriate.
This week, the World Bank is interviewing each of the candidates. Then later in April, they’ll announce the winner. In the mean time, you can learn more about each of the candidates through the Center for Global Development’s “World Bank President Q&A Sessions,” a series of live-streamed interviews with the nominees. The first interview was held yesterday with Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and a video recording is available here. The interview with Jose Antonio Ocampo is to be held at 4pm EST today, and you can watch it here. Viewers are encouraged to submit questions for the candidates by posting a comment here or tweeting them to @CGDev with #WBPrez.