Annual Meetings of the World Bank & International Monetary Fund 2018
1. Executive Summary
The Young Diplomats of Canada delegation spent a week in Bali, Indonesia, for the 2018 Annual Meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. The delegation not only attended the sessions of the meetings, but also participated in the annual Civil Society Policy Forum (CSPF) and in several bilateral meetings. The Meetings included a number of sessions on current risks and challenges in the global financial and trading system and outlined some tools for addressing these problems. The most engaging sessions of the Forum offered a chance for participants to contribute their own thoughts and ideas, including the public consultations on the International Financial Corporation’s Nine Principles for Impact Management.
On the sidelines of the meetings, we also had a chance to initiate conversation with Carolyn Wilkins, Deputy Governor of the Bank of Canada. Ms Wilkins was kind enough to then introduce the delegates to Finance Minister Bill Morneau. These encounters, and an evening the delegation organized with other young delegations attending the Annual Meetings, were some of the highlights of the whole experience.
2. Key Sessions and Bilateral Meetings
Session: A Conversation with the IMF's Managing Director on the Global Economy
Delegates attended a conversation between Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, and Martin Wolf from the Financial Times. The session began with a discussion about the Managing Director’s risks and worries and included frank exchanges on the IMF’s role in financial problems around the world. When discussing the economic recovery in Europe, she admitted that some mistakes had been made, but said that attendees should not give up on Europe despite the continent’s challenges. Ms Lagarde made a case for the continued importance and relevance of the IMF, including as a potential mediator in disputes between emerging economies like China and other developed economies.
Event: Public Consultations for the IFC Principles for Impact Management
During the Annual Meetings the IFC conducted part of its public consultation for a set of nine principles for impact management. These principles are intended to develop a consensus for the management of impact investments. The impact investment lifecycle is broken into five stages: strategy, origination and structuring, portfolio management, exit, and independent verification. These principles are not intended to be prescriptive. Instead, they are designed to guide organizations as they prepare their management processes, and to signal to investors that the management framework is sound.
Bilateral Meeting: Ms Carolyn Wilkins, Bank of Canada
Ms Wilkins was a speaker on the Empowering Women in the Workplace panel. Following the panel, we introduced ourselves to her and she agreed to sit down for a bilateral meeting. During the discussion, we spoke with Ms Wilkins about the IMF’s downward revision to global growth projections. While the IMF indicated that the cut rate was due to tension in the international trading system, Ms Wilkins was of the view that Canada is insulated from some of these concerns. She cited the recent agreement of the USMCA as a rationale. Ms Wilkins also downplayed the likelihood of a recession. In our discussion, we also spoke with Ms Wilkins about the role of cryptocurrencies and other disruptive technologies, as well as economic issues affecting Canadian youth today.
“Commonwealth Dinner”: Meeting with other youth delegations
One of the highlights of the week in Bali was a dinner meet-up on Monday, October 8 with youth delegates from two other Commonwealth countries. The YDC delegation joined an evening organized by Global Voices, the Australian youth delegation, and the Aetearoa Youth Leadership Institute from New Zealand. The evening was a really good chance to catch-up with other young people during a summit event that was dominated mostly by establishments and established professionals.
3. Delegation Reflections
Aysha Nesbitt, Head Delegate
I applied to be a YDC delegate at the World Bank and IMF Annual Meetings with the hope of gaining a greater understanding of how international organizations recognize their role in development and how they manage the tension of differing, but equally important, priorities. A near-impossible task to accomplish in 5-days, I scoped this goal to complement my masters research, which is broadly focused on how to mobilize both public and private capital into investments that target measurable positive social, economic and environmental impacts. When we received the final schedule, I was pleased to see the amount of sessions that focused on this topic; however, I was skeptical as to whether the sessions would provide a diversity of thought and experience on the subject.
The Meetings have always naturally catered to the major stakeholders in international finance but, as civil society organizations demand for more seats at the table, there is a growing need to understand the implications the decisions and policy suggestions that the World Bank, IMF and other international stakeholders have on countries, states, and even the individual. Unfortunately, the Meetings did not provide a space for this type of honest discourse to occur. The deliberate separation between World Bank and IMF meeting attendees and civil society organizations encouraged a separation of thought – banker vs. activist, private sector vs. public sector. This separation not only prevents honest and actionable discourse from occurring, but it also reinforces the privileging of certain sectors and the silencing of challenging voices.
Disappointed by the lack of representation on the panels, I was therefore exceedingly excited when the International Finance Corporations announced they were holding public consultations for their newly drafted “Principles for Impact Management.” Public consultations provide a tangible way for individuals and organizations across sectors to involve themselves in the discussion. The objective of these principles is to establish a common framework on how to manage impact investments by gaining a market consensus on subjects of taxonomy, asset class and more. The nine principles aim to provide a robust management system for the investments lifecycle, which is broken up into five stages: strategy, origination and structuring, portfolio management, exit, and independent verification. As stated, the principles are a framework and, as such, each asset owner and asset manager will differ by type of investor and institution. In doing so, the principles help assure investors that impact funds are managed in a robust fashion. Seeing as financial experts created the original framework, it is my hope that the public consultations provide an opportunity for “impact” groups to contribute to the final framework.
Beyond the personal gratification that the Principle’s gave me, because I admittedly got too excited at the thought of analyzing and providing feedback on them, the decision to hold public consultations quelled the skeptic in me. It reminded me those steps, albeit small-steps are being taken to include more voices, perspectives, and experiences. And, in order to achieve the goals that these institutions have promised, we must continue to hold them to high standards, be critical, and ask for more.
On a final and personal note, I was incredibly grateful to have been surrounded by such an inspiring delegation. With a wide-range of backgrounds, I believe I witnessed, on a small-scale, the learning that occurs when diverse experiences and knowledge are given a space to collaborate. It was through them that I witnessed how YDC empowers young minds to challenge, reflect, and lead.
David Boroto, Communications Coordinator
The World Bank Group (WBG) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) are two of the leading and most influential international organizations who focus on financing global development. The Annual Meetings bring together their officials, as well as bankers, industry leaders, government officials, ministers of finance and development, academics and civil society to discuss the most pertinent issues facing the global community today.
I applied to the Young Diplomats WBG and IMF Annual Meetings delegation as a young Canadian infrastructure engineering student with an interest in global development, curious to find his place in this sector. My goal at the Meetings leverage the opportunity at hand to meet with world leaders whose primary focus is to oversee the social and economic development of the global community. Recognizing my privilege to attend the Meetings, I also aimed to ask tough questions and return to Toronto with tangible learnings to share with my community of like-minded social change-makers. As well, as Communications Coordinator for our delegation, relaying our experiences as a delegation to young Canadians at home through social media was a focus of mine while in Indonesia.
Prior to attending the Meetings, I met with friends and colleagues to broaden my perspective of the WBG and IMF, as well as gain input as to what questions I should be asking and what key issues I should look out for. Though, at the end of the day, I walked into the Meetings with limited expectations or preconceived notions about either organization. My experience at the Meetings was very informative, to say the least. I learned much about the World Bank, the IMF and the development sector in general. Particularly, the opportunities and avenues available to me as youth seeking to work in development became much more clear. As a student studying infrastructure engineering, I benefited most from the many sessions and discussions surrounding infrastructure development and financing in the context of the development sector. Quite honestly, I was pleasantly surprised by the number of discussions surrounding infrastructure. In that vain, the Meetings elucidated a path forward for me to blend my two passions for infrastructure and international development in my career.
Public Private Partnerships (PPP) were a particularly interesting and relevant topic in the field of infrastructure development strategy and financing at the Meetings. In an attempt to fill the $18 trillion infrastructure spending gap, the WBG and IMF look to the private sector to unlock the extra funding required to meet our global infrastructure needs by 2040. PPPs aim to partner governments with private sector firms to share the costs of funding and operating infrastructure projects. However, from the civil society perspective, PPPs are recipes for disaster, leading to inefficient spending, budget overruns and power imbalance between the public and private sector. Having learned about the strengths of PPPs while working in the private sector here in Canada, it was interesting hear of their application in a global context. The Meetings highlighted the challenges of implementing such a strategy in international projects, particularly those in low to middle income countries with emerging economies, and for me, a potential avenue to explore my interest.
On top of the panel discussions and workshops, the bilateral meetings held by our delegation had an immense effect of my experience and learning. Recognizing the valuable and informative meetings held with Martin Spicer, Director of Blended Finance at the International Finance Corporation, and Peter MacArthur, Canadian Ambassador to Indonesia, amongst other individuals, the meeting I most want to highlight was with Mahmound Mohieldin, World Bank Senior Vice President for the 2030 Development Agenda. The meeting with Mr. Mohieldin was highly beneficial, given his expertise in the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In my advocacy work with Engineers Without Borders Canada, the SDGs are a central part of the conversations with Members of Parliament. Mr. Mohieldin informed how I aim to approach my role for the remainder of the year as I promote the SDGs within Canada and lobby the federal government to take a leadership role on the global stage in implementing the SDGs.
Overall, as a youth, my mind was expanded with new schools of thought and approaches to global development. Specifically, for me, the Meetings brought to my attention new ways to tackle global development and potential career paths moving forward. Engaging with professionals whose careers are devoted to enhancing the global community and ensuring that no person gets left behind was truly stimulating and motivational. A common, empowering theme in each discussion I had was the importance of youth in shaping the world we aspire to live in. And with that, I would be remiss not to mention the learning and growth I gained from the five other youth delegates with whom I attended the Meetings. The diversity in experience, backgrounds and perspectives of our team lent itself well to thoughtful and challenging debate, and interesting conversations. I am truly thankful for the relationships built in Indonesia and am excited to see where all my fellow delegates take their promising careers.
I initially applied to be a YDC delegate to the Meetings solely to learn more about the way international organizations prioritized and addressed issues. To be perfectly frank, I was skeptical of the value that youth delegates could bring to such a large-scale conference where the most important decision-making sessions would be partitioned off into invite-only meetings. Instead, I was more interested in fully immersing myself in a week of high-level discussion among some of the world’s most influential economic and development policymakers to understand the way in which they think about issues and identify top-of-mind solutions.
Although these organizations regularly and relatively transparently publish their log of activities, most of these publications are jargon-heavy; paired with their high volume, the IMF and World Bank’s actions become difficult to digest, especially for a younger population that has not been accustomed to the nuances of these topics. As such, my goal was to understand the most prominent conversations entertained today, and report back to my Canadian peers in a more digestible manner. Attending a wide variety of sessions and sitting down with individuals whose careers are devoted to these topics directed me to the most important points and allowed me to understand them in a way that would be relevant to Canadian youth.
Approaching the Meetings with this objective to purely learn proved to be useful for a research project I serendipitously came across at my home university, McGill. Due to my involvement with the Meetings, I was given an opportunity to work with a professor on her narratological analysis of international organizations’ language and its implications on member states’ actual economic policies and national ideologies. At the Meetings, my goal was to produce qualitative data on the rhetoric and narratives used by the IMF and World Bank, gain a sense of the organizational cultures, and speak with key stakeholder groups, including civil society organizations, member state central bankers, and IMF and World Bank staffers. Such an opportunity was invaluable to our research and I am grateful to have had an opportunity to explore my academic pursuits.
Having now had time to reflect on this experience, I do concede that youth representation at these Meetings did, in fact, have an important impact. While policymakers we met with did not by any means change their views nor directly integrate our delegation’s perspectives into their immediate work, I see youth participation in these conversations as a long-term investment. We hold those currently in positions of power accountable by merely showing our presence and establishing ourselves as active stakeholders. Additionally, by bringing together a diverse group of young Canadians with complementary skills and experience, we created a platform where we could debrief with, and learn from, each other. Some of the greatest learning I gained from this experience was through conversations with the delegation and mutually challenging each other’s views. In essence the impact of youth leadership lies in the power of representation and collaboration. Attending the IMF and World Bank Group Meetings in the capacity of a YDC delegate truly harnessed these powers.
I am grateful to have had the opportunity to be part of the 2018 YDC delegation to the Annual Meetings of the World and the IMF, which convened this year in Bali Nusa Dua, Indonesia from October 9-14. The meetings brought together central bankers, ministers of finance and representatives of the private sector and of civil society organizations. As a graduate of Université Laval’s master’s degree in international studies who is currently working for tax policy at the Department of Finance Canada, I found this experience to be very relevant to my interests and also to the work I currently do as a public servant.
A lot of the talks at the meetings focused on the road to implementing the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of 2030 and the progress that has been done to date. It is estimated that to reach these goals by 2030, a hefty $6 trillion annually would need to be earmarked for this purpose. In 2017, the total official development aid (ODA) around the world was $146.6 billion, representing two thirds of all the external finance to least-developed countries (LACs), according to the OECD. With total ODA nowhere close to be enough to finance the SDGs, it was interesting to hear experts and government officials discuss financing alternatives to keep the SDGs alive. Among some of the potential alternatives, increasing domestic revenue mobilization capacities, notably through more efficient taxation systems, and increasing attention to tax justice to fight tax evasion and tax avoidance have been recurring themes in many of the discussions I attended. As a tax policy analyst at Finance Canada, with a background in international relations, I was therefore pleasantly surprised to hear about the many links between my work in taxation and the world of international development, as well as the role that these two fields can play towards getting us close to meeting the UN SDGs.
An important highlight of my experience as a YDC delegate at the Annual Meetings was also the opportunity to meet with high-level officials from Canada and from international institutions. Being able to meet and to share your perspectives with a Canadian ambassador, a senior official at the World Bank, a deputy governor of a central bank and a finance minister, among others, was a unique and enriching experience for our youth delegation. The discussions we had revolved around a variety of theme, including but not limited to climate change, disruptive technologies, fintech, infrastructure, monetary policy, financial inclusion and public-private partnerships. In all the discussions we had, the people we met were very curious and eager to meet and to hear from our delegation, which was a very positive sign that global leaders are attentive to what matters to the new generation of leaders.
Finally, but not the least, this experience allowed me to meet and to exchange with a great group of promising young individuals that formed our YDC delegation. Each of them had a different expertise and background and brought unique perspectives on the many issues discussed during our meetings. Therefore, I can conclude by saying that I not only learned a lot from the experts and officials at the meetings, but also from my fellow delegates with whom I had the chance to share this experience with. I would definitely recommend this experience to any Canadian youth with an interest in international issues.
Ten years after the financial crisis, the world is still recovering with more tumultuous times on the horizon. Whether it is about the next recession, climate change, disrupting technologies and the future of work, our societies will change in the next decade and have important impacts on young Canadians. This brought me to apply to this year’s YDC delegation to the WB and IMF Annual Meetings in Bali, Indonesia. Not only were the themes appealing, but there are also not many forums where the central banks and the finance ministers of 189 member states convene to discuss economic issues. I believe it is in the interest of Canadians, and especially the younger generation, to understand the challenges the world is facing.
The Annual Meetings had something special this year. Even though it was my first meetings with the high financiers of the world, our delegation knew this would be an eventful and not business-as-usual week. First, the Meetings were hosted by Indonesia, on the paradisiac island of Bali. A drastic change from the usual autumnal Washington, D.C., where the meetings are hosted two out of a three-year cycle. For the eighth time since 1947, the Annual Meetings were back in Asia. The change of scenery, however, did not bring a change in the topics discussed at the Meetings
The main theme of this year’s Annual Meetings were about “disrupting technologies”, but conferences included subjects such as empowering women, youth, future of work, climate change and impact financing. The first thing I realized is the challenges we face in Canada at this moment are the same challenges every other nation is facing. For example, taxation in a digital world is an enormous issue in every country. Last Spring, the Canadian government faced criticism in his decision of not taxing Netflix and instead reached a deal with them. The Indonesian Finance Minister, Sri Mulyani, explained on a panel the difficulties of taxing these technology giants. Taxation was a surprisingly, interesting and important topic.
Moreover, we met with the Senior Deputy Governor of the Bank of Canada, Carolyn Wilkins. During the Meetings, the IMF released their global growth forecast, which was cut by 0.2 percentage points to 3.7%, the first time in two years the forecast is reduced. The IMF cited trade tensions as the reason for the cut. Ms. Wilkins reassured us that the Canadian economy is healthy and trade disputes are being resolved, as with the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). Even if several speakers on the panels mentioned the possibility of a recession in the short term, Ms. Wilkins explained that no economic indicator is pointing in that direction. We also discussed the disruption of new technologies on monetary policies and its potential use in our society, like cryptocurrency and blockchain. Once again, almost very central banks are facing the same challenges with loose monetary policy while the economic cycle matures, and new technologies shaking traditional financial institutions.
Back in Montreal, I want to share with my fellow Canadians this incredible experience. We live in a world in transition, what the World Economic Forum titled the fourth Industrial Revolution. However, every nation is facing the same challenges. International organizations such as the IMF and WB are more important than ever in order to enhance cooperation and financial stability.
My motivation to attend the Annual International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings stemmed from my interest in global finance and international law. As an undergraduate student, my academic background in finance and global politics combined when I began questioning how financial risk was managed on a global scale, particularly after the ripple effects of the 2008 financial crisis. I continued to conduct research on the Basel Accord to gain an understanding of the multilateral management of global financial risk and how financial crises could be mitigated through mutual global cooperation. Now, ten years after the financial crisis, I was eager to attend the meetings and learn more about the current state of the global economy and which sorts of measures were being implemented and suggested to avoid widespread issues in the future. The issues of global financial risk were topics which were discussed throughout the meetings and I was able to learn about how current financial leaders are providing reliable suggestions to avoid issues, both on the topics of financial risk and also on new risks generated in the unfamiliar field of financial technology.
In terms of global financial risk, I was able to learn from the Future of Finance panel that the global economy is currently able to withstand financial shocks within the amounts of 2 to 3 Trillion USD. The focus on FinTech and mitigating the risks of cyber-attacks was also extremely relevant given the global shifts to online platforms for trade and finance. I believe that the IMF and WB have a strong grasp on upcoming potential issues and are preparing policies and recommendations to help all nations navigate these upcoming technological changes, which will be unavoidable in the future of the global economy.
In terms of international law, I was hoping to learn about the potential of future tribunals being established by the IMF and WB. I understand that the World Trade Organization offers member countries the opportunity to engage in their Dispute Settlement System (DSS), which effectively acts as a tribunal to resolve issues arising from disputes within international trade agreements. The DSS of the WTO provides member nations with the opportunity to use a structured legal forum to resolve their trade disputes in a quantifiable and rational manner. In terms of the IMF and WB, the tribunals which are currently offered solely focus on internal issues within their respective organizations. Thus, one of the major questions that I raised while attending the annual meeting was whether or not either organization would be able to provide a similar platform for the opportunity to resolve global financial disputes on an international scale. In our meetings with various IMF Advisors and Economists, it was explained to us that the IMF was not heading in a direction to allow for a formal tribunal to be established to resolve tensions that could arise from international lending between nations. However, during A Conversation with the IMF's Managing Director on the Global Economy, Christine Lagarde addressed a question regarding increased tensions between China and other nations by explaining that the IMF was willing to act as a forum to resolve these disputes. Although there are broad disparities between tribunals and resolution forums, it seems feasible that the IMF/WB could eventually develop on a long-term basis into an international legal arena which would allow for the resolution of global financial disputes by adopting the practices currently used by the DSS at the WTO. As the speed, amount, and frequency of global financial exchange and trade continues to rise it seems likely that a formal tribunal may be needed and eventually formed in the future.
Throughout the week, we were fortunate to use our platform with YDCA to reach out to several individuals. I was pleased when Carolyn Wilkins, Senior Deputy Governor of the Bank of Canada, took the time to hold a meeting with us when we introduced ourselves after the conclusion of the Empowering Women in the Workplace panel, which she partook in as a speaker. During our meeting, the team collectively asked questions regarding the state of the Canadian economy and issues affecting Canadian youth. Mrs. Wilkins addressed our questions and provided us with more information on the Bank of Canada. The team was also fortunate to introduce the YDCA organization to other individuals including Canada’s current Finance Minister, Bill Morneau. Throughout the meetings, the need to include youth was a sentiment echoed by several individuals, including Dr. Jim Yong Kim. He explained during the Bali FinTech panel that the participation and involvement of youth will continue to bolster the global economy, especially as the use of technology in the field of finance increases steadily.
I truly believe I would not have had the same experience if I had attended without the support of my colleagues and the YDCA team. The diversity in our academic backgrounds and experiences allowed all of us to add unique meaningful contributions during our discussions with leaders, and amongst conversations within our team. The connections provided to us through YDCA were also invaluable. I feel extremely privileged to have been able to partake in this experience and I look forward to using my position as a young leader to help the fellow members of my generation, both in Canada and throughout the globe.