Guest Column with Nick Taylor

November 13 / 123

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank meetings persisted despite the US Congress’s attention grabbing antics and government shutdown. I was fortunate enough to have been selected to attend the meetings and oversee an exciting paradigm shift as part of Global Voice’s Australian Youth Delegation, made possible by the Faculty of Business and Economics.

In 2011 Ms Christine Lagarde took the helm of the IMF. The former French finance minister is the first woman to run the 188-country financial organisation and has spent much of her time in office trying to solve the Euro-crisis. The World Bank continued to break with tradition. In 2012 President Obama declared, “It’s time for a development professional to lead the world’s largest development agency”. This culminated in the appointment of Dr Jim Yong Kim, a Harvard-educated physician and ex-Dartmouth President, as the first non-banker President since the bank’s inception.

Critics dismiss the leadership changes as merely tokenistic in two increasingly irrelevant post-1945 institutions. The announcement of the World Bank Group’s new strategy may silence its critics.

In an interview with wildly gesticulating CNN International Anchor Richard Quest, Dr Kim announced that the World Bank would halve the level of extreme poverty by 2020. This announcement came as part of a new reform strategy which was unanimously endorsed by the World Bank Group and IMF. The reforms are intended to align the Bank with its two broad objectives: to eliminate extreme poverty by 2030 and boost shared prosperity for the bottom 40 percent of the population in developing countries.

Throughout the week Dr Kim and Ms Lagarde highlighted the need for both innovation and collaboration in order to achieve these goals.

Yet collaboration with tomorrow’s leaders didn’t seem to make the cut. Fortunately, a ‘Global Youth Dialogue’ held by Global Voices saw a panel of young leaders from Australia, Laos, Japan and Guinea discuss various issues related to inclusive growth and the post 2015 agenda. Unsurprisingly, the seminar arrived at the conclusion that youth cannot be excluded from the decision-making process.

At the Civil Society Organisation Town Hall, a round table discussion with both Ms Lagarde and Dr Kim, I pushed them further on whether they and their seemingly progressive institutions believed that youth could play a greater role in the decision-making of the world they will inevitably inherit.

My question was received with enthusiasm by both leaders, with Dr Kim embracing the notion that ‘the youth need a seat at the table’ in his ‘encrusted and ageist’ bank where directors must be in their fifties. Despite her institution’s research fellowship, Ms Lagarde queried ‘whether we [the IMF] do enough?’ I was assured that next year I would be given a better response, and that she would ‘put her thinking hat on’.

She affirmed that the importance of this issue was not to be understated as she jovially remarked that, after all, “you are the retirement program”.


Nick Taylor is about to complete the final semester of his Bachelor of Commerce and completed a concurrent Diploma in Languages (French) earlier this year. He was a Head Delegate at the 2013 Harvard World Model United Nations and is a founding executive member and consultant for the University of Melbourne's 180 Degrees Consulting branch. Through 'Global Voices', a not-for-profit, Nick was selected to attend the 2013 IMF and World Bank conferences as a member of an Australian Youth Delegation. Through his participation in the delegation, Nick wrote a research paper promoting institutional investment in infrastructure.

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