Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala puts forward three major challenges--creating jobs, investing in the human capital of the poor, and building institutions--that she expects to pursue if chosen to lead the World Bank.
In 1944, the Bretton Woods conference set up institutions that reflected a world about to emerge from the second world war. Nearly 70 years later, the world has changed. Emerging countries, once dependent on the World Bank, have become world powers. Growth across Asia, Africa and Latin America is transforming the global economy. The World Bank must adapt to such tectonic shifts and progress is being made, albeit slowly.
For the first time, three candidates are contesting the World Bank presidency in what ought to be an open, competitive and merit-based process. I feel privileged to be one of those candidates, and to represent the aspirations of many people from the developing world.
My own approach to thinking about development has been influenced by my childhood experiences. I grew up in a village in Nigeria where I knew poverty first-hand. I lived through the Nigerian civil war in my formative years, where I observed how violence could set back years of economic development. My thinking has also been shaped by the past 30 years, working in almost every region of the world on thorny issues of development. It has certainly been informed by four years as finance and foreign minister in one of the most challenging but also exciting countries in the world – Nigeria.
In the wake of the great recession, the uncertain times in which we live call for decisive action. The World Bank must respond quickly and effectively to three key challenges facing its client countries in ways that respect their priorities, their culture and their own processes.