Human Capital Development and the Importance of Not Underestimating Ourselves

Our third day at the IMF & World Bank Annual Meetings was an overwhelming, yet equally rewarding experience.

A key focus of the Meetings was the Human Capital Index (HCI) and Human Development Report, scheduled for release this week. Several of the sessions we attended over the course of the day were related to these development indicators in some form.

The World Bank is increasingly focusing on equipping people with the ability to deal with the future, regardless of how it looks. Consequently, it is endeavouring to help children grow and develop by providing better access to nutrition and education and limiting the effects of child stunting. We learnt about the detrimental effects of malnutrition and stunting; a shocking 45% of childhood mortality occurs due to stunting and it causes between 4 and 11% loss of GDP in a developing nation. Unfortunately, no interventions to date have proven to have an enduring impact once stunting has occurred.

The HCI aims to help countries shift this narrative by incentivising leaders to of States to take responsibility for the health and education outcomes of their country. This is significant, as ultimately, it is promotes investment in a nation’s future leaders, and attempts to level the playing field for all children.

The Global Voices Scholars were able to appreciate the importance of engaging all stakeholders, when the daily discussions highlighted how the public sector cannot possibly achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on its own. It is only by leveraging the strength of the public and private sectors that the world can make the progress the SDGs aim for. We also learnt that it is not just these kinds of bodies that can make a difference; individuals have the potential to make positive lasting change too.

Gayatri Putri, an eighteen-year-old Indonesian girl, is a perfect example of how an individual can make a difference. She is an inspiring advocate for youth and women’s rights who discussed the importance of changing societal attitudes towards issues, in order to achieve sustainable development. Gayatri does not let her age or inexperience reduce her capacity to create change through influencing policy.

So how do we make good policy? Co-ordination, co-ordination, co-ordination. Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the IMF, said, “We have to listen to each other and respect each other.” It is okay if we disagree, but we “must remain honest.”

A key take-away for myself, was that in the international sphere, even the global elite and esteemed diplomats are just people, people who started out somewhere. Sometimes all it takes to solve a complex global political and economic issue is simply to keep talking and allowing the dialogue to remain open.

It is so important for the world’s youth to engage in policy discussions such as those we witness at the Annual Meetings, as we are the leaders of the future and the issues of discussion will one day be ours. So find what you are passionate about, and then equip yourself with the knowledge and skills to make a meaningful contribution to the world using this passion.

By: Simran Goklaney, Queensland University of Technology Business School