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Ocampo as World Bank Candidate: A Reason for Regional Pride

SANTIAGO, Chile, Apr 5 2012 (IPS) - The nomination of José Antonio Ocampo for the Presidency of the World Bank is a source of pride and hope for all those working for economic and social development, particularly in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Pride because his nomination reflects a remarkable path in academia, in the generation of innovative development theories, the direct management of public policies and the intellectual leadership for finding genuine tracks towards progress.

José Antonio Ocampo has examined various development challenges in depth, his proposals being distinguished for addressing the importance of counter-cyclical macroeconomic institutions, the restoration of the relevance of the State as an agent for development and the need for a new international financial architecture, one that is oriented towards the reduction of volatility and that supports more effective financing for development. Such ideas have been strengthened by the lessons learned during the last global financial crisis, and largely explain why Latin America suffered a limited impact during the global crisis in 2008-2009.

Ocampo is certainly a loyal advocate of neo-structuralism, a school of thought referred to by the World Bank “as a framework for re-thinking development and policy” and deeply rooted in the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) ­ which he led for almost five years.

The Colombian economist served as Minister of Finance, Agriculture and Planning. When he was later appointed Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations for Economic and Social Affairs, he became a fundamental proponent of smart agreements between international economic actors. Ocampo is one of the few experts who knows and understands the urgent need for redesigning the global financial architecture that emerged 68 years ago in the halls of the Mount Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire.

In these times, we know that growth is not synonymous with development and that in the long run people’s income is guaranteed by job opportunities. That is why it is very important to work towards more inclusive financial systems, in particular giving the poor access to basic financial services. In doing so, we are creating a powerful and sustainable instrument for fighting poverty.

The nomination of José Antonio Ocampo is full of substantial symbolism and is representative of the undeniable fact that in the 21st century the world must recognise and listen to the voice of developing countries ­the combined GPD of which will represent more than half of global GDP in the near future. Herein rests the hope: this explicit intention of achieving a new governance of international financial institutions, especially the World Bank.

* Alicia Bárcena is the executive secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).

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