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World Bank Meetings: A Wary Optimism

Isik Oguzertem's picture

“A resounding success. We have had open, honest, and frank discussions, making this year’s session most fruitful.” So were the words of the President of the World Bank/IMF Group Board of Governors. I picked up a rumor that the Prime Minister will be addressing the plenary session this morning and made my way to the grand hall. It seems I am early but just in time for the closing remarks. The intense elation of a job well done is definitely today’s feeling of the day…at least amongst the Secretariat.

After yesterday’s uncertainty regarding the youth presence at these meetings, I took it upon myself to ask a few of them the same questions I asked passersby in Taksim Square two days ago. I was right to think these young people would be rather well-versed in the activities of the World Bank.

I sit down with an eclectic group, and the conversation flows between English and Turkish. One support staff, a 23-year-old MA recipient tells me, “The World Bank has enabled many developing countries to mobilize the necessary resources to undertake projects that are crucial for their economic as well as social development. The Bank has also provided the international community with new tools, methods and perceptions on international development and poverty eradication. However, I think the World Bank needs to reconsider some of its methodologies in light of the recent economic downturn. Given the resources and capacity of the Bank, it has a lot of potential to have a considerable and positive impact on international development as long as accountability, inclusiveness and fairness become/remain the norms for governance.”

How will these remain the norms of governance? I ask. An 18-year-old information desk assistant tells me sweetly and succinctly, “Through pressure from civil society, from the media, from us.”

This is getting interesting, I think. Let’s see where this will go. Ok, I ask, when you look at the world economic outlook, are you hopeful or pessimistic?

One of the quieter participants chimes in. “All the money is in the hands of the wealthy, and these institutions only further the interests of the wealthy.” But there is immediate disagreement from the others. “Get out of 1970,” begins a 21-year-old pony-tailed IT assistant, “It’s obvious that the current global economic system has fundamental flaws not least of which is a bias towards developed countries in terms of the flow of resources. Still, I prefer to be optimistic and I believe discussing such issues openly in platforms such as this can help the international community come up with better, fairly aligned frameworks.”
I check my email and see that I’ve just received a response from a 24-year-old friend to whom I’ve asked what economic development means for him.

His email is laced with his international development experience. “Economic development refers to economic progress measured by a couple of indicators including GDP and GDP per capita. It is very limited when considered singlehandedly as it is not human-centered. Although concepts including pro-poor growth have recently become rather popular and stripped economic development from its much criticized aggregated focus, a multi-disciplinary approach is required to govern and gauge development as social and political development goes hand in hand with economic development. If either chain breaks apart, it will eventually fail the other two.”

While there may be some hesitation in some camps, I think it’s safe to say the momentum is in the direction of the positive. Maybe not as strongly as the closing remarks of the Secretariat, but at least people seem to be on the same page.


Submitted by Maria on
Hi Isik, I've been following your posts, they're very interesting. Thanks for sharing them with us! About this topic, I think that development is in itself an integral process that involves economic, social, spiritual and emotional factors, among others. I think it's closely related to evolution (although most scientifics may disagree with me). We cannot bring about wealth while increasing contamination and say it's development. We cannot increase the GDP per capita while increasing the suicide rate and call that development. I think the new generations have a very important challenge ahead of us: balancing and advancing the different components of life for all humankind. That is what should be called development. I agree with the youth you interviewed that have a more optimistic view. Hope and action are in our hands and we're at last realizing that the world's development is our direct responsibility. This is not only a matter that should be discussed by the World Bank and the IMF, but by everyone in the world.