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Inviting You to Join the Debate: IMF/World Bank Annual Meetings Program of Seminars

The global economic crisis really shook things up. Policymakers came together and responded to the crisis with an unprecedented degree of policy coordination.

The crisis also focused the IMF’s attention on better equipping ourselves to meet the challenges of today’s world. A big part of that transformation is how we engage with our members and the outside world.

So, with the 2010 IMF/World Bank Annual Meetings, you’ll see some big changes. Our goal—for this year and future years—is to provide a forum for people to debate, to learn from each other (and us from them), and to be part of a global conversation.

At this critical juncture for the global economy there are many burning policy issues on the agenda. And, we are opening our doors and inviting you—the membership and the broader public—to be part of this discussion.

Front and center

Front and center on this year’s agenda is the state of the global economy and the policy priorities going forward. The recovery is proceeding, but it is uneven and fragile. So a key question is how to achieve a more balanced recovery. And with financial sector weaknesses seen as the Achilles’ heel of the recovery, another key issue is how to strengthen the financial sector. A big part of this is also how to ensure the IMF is equipped for, and representative of, today’s global economic realities.

So exactly how do we hope to facilitate this exchange of ideas?

Under the broader umbrella of our Annual Meetings, and in addition to the meeting of the International Monetary and Financial Committee, our governing body, there will be a host of meetings of different official groups. These include the Group of Twenty industrialized and emerging market economies, the Commonwealth Finance Ministers, the Intergovernmental Group of Twenty-Four developing and emerging market economies, and the Group of Seven major industrial countries. There will also be meetings with civil society, academics, and the private sector.

There will be numerous meetings and seminars in which these various groups will participate. In all, we expect more than 100 meetings, discussions, seminars, and fora—including the renowned Per Jacobsson lecture—to take place over the next 3‑4 days.

Inclusive discussion

A major part of the dialogue is an expanded Program of Seminars. The IMF will hold two flagship seminars, followed by three ‘breakout’ sessions for each of them. Across the street, at the World Bank, there will be a similar program. This is a way to engage participants at the Annual Meetings in discussing the issues that are at the center of the world economic policy debate. But it is also a way to include parts of the membership, and the broader public, in this discussion in a way they did not have an opportunity to do before.

The first of our two flagship seminars is the BBC World Debate, which will open discussions on the question of “Stimulate or Consolidate: How to Secure a Robust Recovery?” With the world still in uncharted economic waters, panelists will discuss the policies needed to achieve equitable, sustainable and job-friendly growth. Among these will be the hotly debated issue of whether (and when) to maintain or withdraw policy stimulus.

The three breakout sessions following the BBC World Debate discuss:

Together with CNBC, we will host the second flagship seminar on the “Future of Global Economic Governance”. As I mentioned earlier, the crisis has highlighted the need for greater policy coordination at both the global and regional levels. It has also prompted a discussion of the need for institutional reforms in countries and regions, and in global institutions such as the IMF.

This broader discussion will be followed by three sessions in which panelists will debate:

As these seminars take place over the next few days, we will be posting comments here with accounts of each of the discussions.

But don’t just watch this space to see how the debate unfolds. We invite you to add your voice to the discussion by posting a comment.