CSLF Public Finance Fellow | MA in Economics candidate
I recently attended the World Bank’s annual Group Youth Summit, ‘Unlocking the Power of Inclusion for Equitable Growth.’ In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, economies worldwide have seen soaring inflation and interest rate hikes, and the importance of fiscal management has been made even more apparent. Recovering from these woes requires strategic efforts, particularly bearing in mind the diverse nature of the world.
During the summit’s first plenary session, Nadir Mohammed, Regional Director for Equitable Growth, Finance and Institutions in the Middle East and North Africa at World Bank, gave succinct definitions of diversity, equity, and inclusion: diversity refers to the fact that we co-exist in a shared space with uncommon ideologies; equity means having different people with equal chances, and inclusion refers to the equal stake of individuals in policymaking and nation-building. Inclusion has been a topic of concern for the longest time, recently becoming one of the most used words in global fora.
The summit presented some key considerations to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion in public financial management. Most importantly, public budgeting should be proactive. According to Shrayana Bhattacharya, Senior Economist in the World Bank’s Social Protection and Jobs for South Asia, “Budgets should incorporate environmental or climate risk in fiscal management and transfers such that those at higher risk receive more proactive efforts.” This proposal should be extended to technology, education, healthcare, and general welfare. Groups with lower representation should be given adequate consideration in cash transfer decision-making and budget preparation. Additionally, tax policy reforms should be engaged through extensive stakeholder participation across all levels. Government should promote policies advocating advancement in education through efficient funding, advancement in healthcare (particularly in areas habited by minority groups), and advancement in equitable job opportunities.
Currently, thirty percent of the World Bank International Development Association’s (IDA) resources are channeled toward countries with conflict, countries prone to climate problems, and countries with internal violence. While the IDA focuses on the world’s poorest countries, attention is also given to countries with underrepresented groups, reinforcing the need to implement policies that target the unreached and create a supportive environment. Likewise, the formulation of these policies should involve youth and representatives of minority groups while being as transparent as possible. According to Nadir Muhammed, “Societies do better when everyone is included in the economic development process.”
Overall, the World Bank’s Group Youth Summit reinforced for me the urgent need to be involved in public policy to ensure diverse, equitable, and inclusive public policies worldwide. The summit provided an excellent opportunity for participants to form international connections. The sessions touched on all areas of the economy, including public finance, media, technology, and politics.
I look forward to attending future Group Youth Summits during the remainder of my graduate career.
ABOUT THE 2022 WORLD BANK YOUTH SUMMIT
The 2022 World Bank Youth Summit, held May 26–27, 2022, was a dynamic youth engagement initiative of the World Bank Group. Established in 2013, the World Bank hosts the summit to create an opportunity for youth to share diverse opinions on potential solutions to their generation’s problems. The primary goals of the summit are to empower youth to have a voice in tackling development issues, to provide tools to build and engage in impactful projects, and to promote dialogue between youth, the World Bank Group, and other key stakeholders globally. This year, another goal was to engage young minds in “innovative ideas to ensure that recovery and growth in the post-COVID world are not only equitable and sustainable but also inclusive along social, environmental, and economic dimensions.”
Notable speakers from this year’s summit: David R. Malpass (13th president of World Bank Group), Alex van Trotsenburg (Managing Director of Operations, World Bank), Nadir Mohammed (Regional Director, Equitable Growth, Finance and Institutions, Middle East and North Africa, World Bank), Theodore A. Klouvas (Coordinator Policy Officer Education & Youth, Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs), Lindi von Mutius (Director, Sustainability and Global Development Practice, Harvard University), Shrayana Bhattacharya (Senior Economist in the World Bank’s Social Protection and Jobs for South Asia), and Shino Saruta (Operations Officer, Inclusive Business, IFC’s Gender, and Economic Inclusion Group), among others. A complete list of speakers can be found here. Recordings of the summit can be found here.