CGD President Nancy Birdsall announced on Monday that the Center for Global Development and the Washington Post would co-host “a forum where the candidates could explain their vision for the bank’s future and be questioned by the media and members of the international development community.”
This confirms that “this time is different”
For the first time the candidates offer a range of different skills and experience. For the first time, the broader development community can take the measure of the three competitors before the World Bank’s executive directors interview them in private and make their consensus decision. It also may reduce the temptation for prolonging the unseemly campaigning and slamming that, as a commentator on this blog put it “pretends this is a political campaign for President of the United States.”
Nancy Birdsall has also made it clear that it’s an invitation-only crowd: “I have asked my colleagues at CGD who are organizing this to endeavor to include a broad cross-section of the international development community. Inevitably, some people who want to attend will be disappointed. For that, I extend my apologies in advance and ask for your understanding, with the hope that the live streaming of these historic events on the Internet will ensure broad virtual participation in the proceedings.” This should help maintain decorum, while allowing the widest possibly scrutiny by interested stakeholders world-wide through the live streaming CGD and the Post will organize.
Since questions at these public events in Washington often aren’t, Nancy and her co-convenor, the Washington Post’s Howard Schneider, should accept only written ones, on cards from the audience or submitted via the Internet. We should rely on these two professionals’ integrity and good judgment to ensure that the broadest range of topics is covered, and that the candidates’ and attendees’ time is well spent.
US Vice President Joe Biden would tell you what kind of a big deal this is, and he’d be right. No matter what the outcome, the process has been unlike any before now in the history of the World Bank Group. Or any other international organization, for that matter.
This public meeting will also allow the candidates to show how gracious they can be. Only one can be chosen. If the others believe in the importance of the Bank, they should signal now that they will work hard to support the executive directors’ choice as s/he moves the Bank into new relevance, effectiveness and efficiency.