The World Bank is soon to be sixty years old, and I think that it is a tribute to the foresight of its founders and the capacity of its managers to know that if it did not exist, we would have to create it in order to do very much of the same things which it currently does, in very much the same way, and with very much the same people.
That said, it is clear that with time the Bank must naturally have lost some of its original vigor and that most definitely the circumstances, challenges, and resources are not the same as those present sixty years ago. So, if we were to recreate this multilateral development effort today, a “new” World Bank, it might turn out to be a somewhat different organization from ours.
I mention this as lately, for instance in the discussions of voices, it is clear that having to look through a glass colored by the Bank’s day-to-day realities (and all the special interests that have evolved with time, whether internal or external) makes it very difficult for management and ourselves to visualize what changes are required.
In this respect I would suggest that, as a Board, we could benefit immensely from an in-depth and outside view as to how the World Bank should have been organized, had it been born today. The nonbinding conclusion of such a study that could be provided for instance by a diversified work group of creative, wise, and credible personalities, could most probably provide us with a better vision of what we all should strive to achieve. It is only by painting the green valley you want to reach that you can muster the sufficient will to get there.
Is there any support out there to make the study I propose a part of the roadmap of voices and the so many other issues we are grappling with? Perhaps a 60 Years Development Committee?
Extract from Voice and Noise 2006