Whether Jobs in the Middle East and North Africa and the freedom to prosper or the ‘What Will It Take to End Poverty’ campaign being championed by Jim Yong Kim, or the views of Japanese union representatives who think it’s more important to put jobs before debt, the priority for many here at the Tokyo Annual Meetings has been to put people first. Japanese officials were part of a dialogue in Sendai and the country’s Comprehensive Strategy for Rebirth was held up as the type of approach that holds lessons for other countries grappling with disaster. Jim Yong Kim at his Annual Meetings press conference noted that, if Haiti had used the kind of sophisticated early warning system that Japan had in place ahead of their great quake, thousands of lives could have been spared.
Transforming the World Bank from a mid-20th century organization to an agile, 21st century entity motivated by a drive for ‘Open Development’ requires user-friendly shared data sites, a willingness to be held to high standards of transparency and accountability, a move toward telling results stories in compelling ways, and a ceding of ground from proud in-house research to ‘Democratizing Development Economics’.
All of the above requires both showmanship and visionary leadership, not something the staid World Bank is usually known for.
This year, there is a “jumbotron” television screen facing Pennsylvania Avenue outside the Bank’s Main Complex greeting passersby and staff alike with compelling short films of results achieved by IDA, the Bank’s fund for the poorest. Entering the building’s sleek glass, metal, and stone atrium, visitors and staff see a new path of big, brightly colored circles highlighting IDA facts, spanning the entire Atrium floor, saying things like: