Published on Voices

Five TED Talks that inspired me

Jim Yong Kim speaks at TED2017. © Marla Aufmuth/TED
Jim Yong Kim speaks at TED2017. © Marla Aufmuth/TED

This April, I had the honor of delivering a TED Talk in Vancouver, Canada. TED Talks aim to inspire and spread ideas, and this year’s theme – The Future Us – explored what lies ahead for the world. 

Artificial intelligence, robotics, and other technological advances hold great promise, but these changes are coming at break-neck speed. I’m afraid many of us aren’t ready. There’s still too much poverty and inequality in the world, and we have a lot of work to provide opportunities for everyone. 

A grave concern is that millions, or potentially billions, of poor people could be left behind as we enter a new industrial age. Too many people in developing countries lack access to quality education, nutrition, health care, and the opportunity to reach their potential. Yet, their aspirations for a better life are rising. We must find ways to help our clients meet these aspirations or risk more frustration, migration, and conflict.

In a nutshell, this is what I talked about on the TED stage. To prepare, I watched a number of other TED Talks by World Bank Group colleagues and alumni, scientists, authors, economists, and technologists. Each one imparted valuable wisdom, but I was especially inspired by these five:

1)   Dilip Ratha: The Hidden Forces in Global Economics: Sending Money Home

Ratha is a World Bank economist who crossed two oceans with only $20 in his pocket to fulfill his dream of studying in the United States. In his talk, he explains that migrant workers send three times more money home to their families than the total amount of global foreign aid. These “dollars wrapped with love” are a lifeline for many poor people and could do much more to dent poverty.


2)   Chrystia Freeland: The Rise of the New Global Super Rich

Freeland, Canada’s current Minister of Foreign Affairs, highlights the danger of growing economic inequality around the world in her compelling talk about the rise of a new class of plutocrats powered by innovative technology and globalization.


3)   Bono: The Good News on Poverty (Yes, there’s Good News)

Bono is a rock star in real life and a rock star among humanitarians as the founder of ONE. Not surprisingly, he’s totally comfortable in front of an audience. He shows us with humor and style that “humanity’s long slow journey for equality is actually speeding up.”

4)   Michael Porter: The Case for Letting Business Solve Social Problems

Porter convincingly argues that businesses are best placed to scale up solutions to the world’s biggest problems. I agree. The private sector will be critical to help end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity in developing countries.


5)   Josette Sheeran: Ending Hunger Now

Sheeran has been on the frontlines in the fight against hunger as the head of the UN’s World Food Program (she is now the President and CEO of the Asia Society). The consequences of malnourishment are tragic, particularly for young children. Sheeran’s compassionate TED Talk will make you wonder why this problem wasn’t solved long ago.

Which TED Talks have inspired you?


Jim Yong Kim

Former President, World Bank Group

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