Our first seminar ‘How to Measure Economic Success: Welfare v GDP” was insightful and thought-provoking. The talk was given by Geoffrey Bannister from the IMF’s Asia and Pacific Department, posing the question “What about the people”. From highlighting the limited accuracy of traditional measures such as GDP Per Capita, to a discussion on what is welfare, the talk challenged traditional views of economic success and provided a tool to evaluate policy impacts. The relevance of this was illustrated by an example of health pandemics – while the demand for medical devices and services may increase, leading to a higher GDP, this does not mean welfare or quality of life has equally increased.
Our next seminar, ‘Interconnectedness of Global Systemically-Important Banks & Insurers’ was presented by TengTeng Xu and Sheheryar Malik who evaluated the interconnectedness of global financial institutions and insurers. They underscored the importance of monitoring evolving risks and ensuring the consideration of a variety of quantitative and qualitative risk factors.
Our final analytical corner seminar for the day was on trade liberalisation, named ‘Trade & Income, is there really gains and are they widely shared?’. An increasingly relevant topic for the current climate. The presentation touched on protectionist attitudes, income inequality, the economic impact of trade and open economies, wealth distribution, shared prosperity, knowledge spill overs, and upstream versus downstream tech innovation in global value chains.
Hosted by the CSO, ‘Promoting Responsible Agricultural Investments’ looked at how the global needs of agriculture are shifting and the role of the World Bank and other entities in supporting improved agricultural processes, projects and scalability. From 2010 to 2025 the demand for food will increase 45%, and currently 1 in 9 people are still in chronic hunger, yet in the same nations there is both malnutrition and obesity with 1.3bn tonnes in food wasted per year. I was surprised to learn agriculture currently uses 70% of earth’s fresh water supplies, clearly highlighting the issue of scalability to meet upcoming food requirements. While 2/3rd of social impact investors state they invest in agriculture, it only makes up 7% of their portfolio, emphasising a funding issue, with investors commenting on the need to de-risk the agricultural sector.
The final, and flagship event, was a CSO Roundtable with the World Bank Executive Directors. Spanning over an hour and a half, the panel discussed topics and answered questions across several key themes: Education, Climate Change, Conflict & Human Rights, Inclusivity & Diversity and Accountability, Transparency & Citizen Engagement.