New World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said he has “unshakable optimism” the institution can accomplish much in the next five years through increased openness, innovation, academic rigor, and working “with the people living in poverty we aspire to serve.”
“I'm honored today to assume the presidency of the World Bank Group. I've spent most of my adult life working in some of the poorest communities in the world,” Kim told reporters as he entered Bank headquarters. “And in my work, what I've learned is that the World Bank is the most important development institution in the world. I'm both humbled and inspired to take over today as President."
“We need data, we need evidence, we need to be very tough in how we analyze the data, what it says to us about moving forward … but every day we should bring an optimism of the spirit to our work,” Dr. Kim told staff gathered for a town-hall style welcome.
Acknowledging he is taking the helm of the institution during a pivotal time in the world economy, Dr. Kim said he has heard many times in the last few months that countries most want prosperity, growth, and jobs. And they want the Bank to help in a way that is friendly to the environment and sustainable.
In a later statement, Dr. Kim said the global economy remains highly vulnerable.
“We need to boost confidence in markets and within the private sector,” he said. “And we need to boost confidence among citizens that our economic system and policies can deliver more sustainable, fair and inclusive economic growth.”
One of Dr. Kim’s top priorities is to draw on the expertise of staff and the public on the best ways to deliver results on the ground and amplify the voices of the poor. More than 60 questions and comments for the new president have already come in from more than 25 countries, posted in Arabic, French, English, Korean, and Spanish through “Ask Jim Kim,” a special World Bank Live launched July 1. Questions and comments have also been flowing in from Twitter using hashtag #AskJimKim.
Stay tuned for another video where Dr. Kim will respond to several of your queries.
“I have seen you in the field,” Dr. Kim told staff. “I have worked in so many different places, where the excellent quality, the academic rigor, the attention to detail the Bank staff brings has been legendary.”
“We share a passion, and moreover, we have a unique opportunity,” added Dr. Kim, 52, who immigrated to the United States at age 5 from his native South Korea – which he noted was once a poor country but now an economic power. “This is the moment for us to step up and help countries down the path of prosperity and eradicate poverty from the face of the earth.”
Dr. Kim is widely recognized for his initiatives to combat drug-resistant tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS in developing countries. A physician and anthropologist, he comes to the Bank from Dartmouth College, where, as president, he managed a staff and faculty of 3,300 and a budget of $700 million. He is the first World Bank president selected through a new process that for the first time yielded multiple nominees for the position.
Dr. Kim’s statement said that “a central part of my responsibility in the next five years will be to ensure that the Bank’s distinctive strengths are aligned with the needs of a world in transformation and transition.”
“Together, with partners old and new, we will foster an institution that responds effectively to the needs of its diverse clients and donors; delivers more powerful results to support sustained growth and help governments to become more accountable to citizens; prioritizes evidence-based solutions over ideology; harnesses and attracts the best talent; amplifies the voices of developing countries; and draws on the expertise and experience of the people we serve.”