World Bank President Robert B. Zoellick spoke to the press Thursday, marking the start of the 2012 Bank-IMF Spring Meetings and describing initiatives to make the Bank more open and transparent as among the most important during his tenure as chief.
Zoellick said his time at the Bank has had three distinct phases: a turnaround from a time of trouble; faster, more flexible and large sale support for client countries across food, fuel and financial crises; and the start of the modernization of the World Bank Group for the future.
“Our initiatives for open information, open data and open access to knowledge may turn out to be the most important legacy of the past five years, “said Zoellick. “These steps are key to democratizing development.”
He added that the ongoing modernization effort at the Bank will be a large part of his presentation to the Development Committee, which meets on April 21.
“Our modernization agenda is driven by our focus on clients, listening to their priorities, as opposed to the old top-down approach,” said Zoellick.
Read President Zoellick’s full opening remarks as prepared for delivery.
The Bank president took several questions from the press on subjects ranging from Europe’s economy to trade finance to the Arab Spring.
A rising interest in safety nets and social protection is reflected in the themes of the World Bank-IMF Spring Meetings. Several events during the Bank’s meetings focus on efforts to “Close the Gap” in access to food, health care, gender, education, finance, and jobs. A new Social Protection and Labor strategy was launched on April 18 and the Development Committee of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund will consider a more specific paper, “Safety Nets Work: During Crisis and Prosperity.”