Where Next for the World Bank?

20/04/2012 11:54 BST | Updated 20/06/2012 10:12 BST

Now, more than ever, we need a World Bank that is credible, effective and responsive to the economic pressures of the 21st century. Dr Kim will take on its presidency knowing the task ahead of him to be considerable. He must prove to all the Bank's shareholders - in rich and poor countries alike - that he can continue to deliver Robert Zoellick's reforms, creating a culture of results and efficiency that will transform the world's foremost development institution and ensure it is tackling the underlying causes of poverty rather than just dealing with the symptoms.

We saw the results of those reforms at work in the selection of this year's president. In an important break with the past, three outstanding candidates set out their own vision for the Bank, a process that allowed much greater transparency and openness about the candidates' manifestos and which generated healthy debate about their policy. Indeed, as he contemplates his year ahead, Dr Kim will be wise to draw on some of the bold and positive ideas brought forward by the other candidates, particularly those advocating new partnerships with the private sector and emerging economies.

For his own part, Jim Kim convinced a wide swathe of shareholders, from developed countries, emerging markets and some of the world's poorest countries that he has the skills and experience to head the world's leading development institution. Now, he must translate advocacy into action by tackling the five key areas in most need of reform.

Firstly, the Bank must help create open and strong societies. Governments and institutions which are transparent and accountable to their citizen are vital. Many low-income countries, especially in Africa, are in the early stages of what will be the biggest mineral and natural resource boom ever seen. How well countries manage this opportunity will determine their prospects for decades to come. If the proceeds are put to the service of the many, most of today's poorest countries will develop rapidly. If they are scooped by the elite, the consequences are ominous. The Bank should use its knowledge to help build and manage transparent institutions which work in the wider public interest, creating open markets and open societies. This is vital if we are to ensure their assistance is reaching those that need it most.

Secondly, the Bank must focus on creating the conditions for growth. This is particularly important for countries tackling deep-seated and generational poverty. Middle and low-income countries are currently fortunate to have young populations, better educated than in the past. These young people must be brought into the labour force. At the same time roads, railways, power, ports, water and telecommunications across Africa and Asia need major investment. The Bank must deploy more funds to nurture the private sector in some of the most neglected parts of the world, helping to create the jobs and opportunities that will kick-start economic growth.

Thirdly, the Bank must galvanise the private sector to deliver the finance and skills needed to develop the infrastructure that poor countries so badly need. This will mean bringing together its component parts much more effectively, linking its lending arm and the IFC with the rest of its work to operate effectively as a single group.

Fourthly, he must accelerate the modernisation programme initiated by his predecessor, Robert Zoellick. Its new emphasis on results, transparency and greater responsiveness to its clients gives it the potential to be the driver of major culture change. At the same time it is raising its game in fragile states and on the crucial agenda of girls and women. Despite these encouraging signs, however, much remains to be done. Staff still need to have a better grasp of the unique challenges faced by fragile states and to tailor their efforts to these specific environments. Similarly, the Bank must become more flexible and nimble in the way it designs its projects if it is to remain relevant to the growing number of countries able to borrow on the international market.

Finally, the Bank must do more to improve health and education, an area where Dr Kim himself has deep expertise. The World Bank has played an important role in recent years, yet despite considerable progress, huge challenges still remain, especially for girls and women. On education, we need to see a much a stronger focus on quality, not just coverage, so that young people can develop the skills that are needed locally. In health and social protection, the challenge is to build systems that provide the basics to everyone in need, especially those who are currently excluded.

This is a considerable action list but Dr Kim has our full support as he prepares to take up the role. For the first time ever the Bank will be led by a development professional. He is someone who understands how desperate the lives of the very poorest are and who has already dedicated his life to delivering effective aid programmes based on evidence and results. As he looks to the future, Dr. Kim should ensure the Bank's decisions are rooted in the highest quality research and evidence while also allowing innovation and creativity to flourish. Only by creating open societies and open markets across the world will we start to tackle the root causes of chronic poverty.

If he can achieve all of this, Dr Kim will make his mark on the World Bank, positioning it as a truly inclusive and international institution, capable of playing the pivotal role it was always designed to fulfil.