World Bank president speaks in Gaston, lauds democratized economics
Citing a desire to democratize the field, Zoellick, who has run the Bank since 2007, advocated a policy he calls “Open Data, Open Knowledge, Open Solutions,” which encourages transparency, receptivity, and, honesty between economists and the outside world.
In the wake of the global economic crisis, Zoellick said the Bank needs to be more humble; in his opinion, economists need to recognize that they simply don’t have all the answers.
“Too often research economists seem not to start with the key knowledge gaps facing development practitioners, but rather search for questions they can answer with the industry’s currently favorite tools,” he said.
Arguing that elite control of development does not work, Zoellick emphasized an approach wherein developed and developing nations can learn from one another.
“A new multi-polar economy requires multi-polar knowledge,” he said. “We need to recognize that development knowledge is no longer the sole province of the researcher, the scholar, or the ivory tower.”
Zoellick went on to voice his disapproval of the Washington Consensus, a set of guidelines laid out as the goals for developing economies. Because relatively few nations have achieved the prosperity that the Washington Consensus promises, he argued, economists need to steer clear of a “one size fits all” approach. Instead, he recommended a policy of “global reach, with local sensitivity.”
Through the use of technology, he added, more people will have the opportunity to provide insight and verify the Bank’s findings; Zoellick hopes that Bank programs, such as the Open Data Initiative, the iSimulate forecasting tool, and the upcoming Apps for Development competition, will encourage the kind of diverse participation necessary to reach that goal.
“Today, the Bank remains the largest single source of development knowledge,” he said. “But knowledge must be opened to all.”
Photo: Jackson Perry