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Zoellick: Bank to ‘democratize and demystify’ development economics

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In a speech before students, faculty, policymakers and journalists at Georgetown University yesterday, World Bank President Robert Zoellick urged a sweeping new approach to development economics research. He said the Bank will change its research model to better access developing country experience through “Open Data, Open Knowledge, Open Solutions,” and make research more easily accessible to policymakers.

“A new multipolar economy requires multipolar knowledge,” Zoellick said.”We need to democratize and demystify development economics, recognizing that we do not have a monopoly on the answers. We need to throw open the doors, recognizing that others can find and create their own solutions. And this open research revolution is under way. We need to recognize that development knowledge is no longer the sole province of the researcher, the scholar, or the ivory tower.”

Zoellick discussed four gaps in knowledge on how to more effectively overcome poverty and encourage inclusive and sustainable growth. These research needs, outlined in a Bank paper released today, include:
* A better understanding of how economic transformation happens;

* More knowledge on how to access economic opportunities, including within the private sector;

* Better knowledge of how to handle risks, ranging from natural disasters to health pandemics, wars and civil strife, oil and food price shocks, and regional and global economic crises; and

* More evidence to assess the effectiveness of development efforts, including aid.

He said the Bank is off to a good start in bridging these gaps through opening up its stores of knowledge. The Open Data initiative, for example, makes available to the public ---- free of charge -- more than 2,000 financial, business, health, economic, and human development indicators for more than 200 economies.

Following the speech, Zoellick engaged Georgetown students and faculty in a lively question-and-answer session, in which he touched on the importance of country ownership in making development work; the knowledge Brazil, Russia, India and China are contributing to developing countries; and how social entrepreneurship can strengthen development results.

The speech served as a curtain-raiser for next week’s International Monetary Fund-World Bank Group Annual Meetings, which will include the Bank’s Open Forum – an online event that will open the meetings to the public for the first time. Those outside the Bank will be able to watch video coverage of plenary sessions and panel discussions with subject experts, and/or participate in interactive chats.

We’ll be covering the Open Forum and a full slate of Annual Meetings seminars and events here, with supplementary coverage on our Spanish Meetings Blog. We’ll also feature blog posts from experts within the Bank. Please join the discussion.

Watch the full webcast of Zoellick’s speech.


Julia Ross

Senior Communications Officer

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