Bank learns European ABCDE

15 September 1999

The World Bank held its first Annual Bank Conference on Development Economics – Europe this June in Paris. About 200 delegates from universities and ministries attended two and a half days of lectures hosted by the French Treasury.

According to the Banks press release

“by bringing together leading thinkers and policymakers in Europe, the Bank is extending its global research network and widening its scope of economic analysis to emphasize social protection, stability and economic decision-making”.

However, whilst many interesting points were raised, some Bank staff, as well as researchers and NGOs present, felt the tone of the meeting was too theoretical, with a bias towards formal, orthodox economics, with little development economics and still less political science or political economy. There was also insufficient time for engagement and discussion, as even the breakout workshops were attended by about 50 people each.

In closing the conference, the Bank’s European Vice-President, Jean-Francois Rischard confirmed that the event would take place each year in a different European city. The Bank would seek improvements such as getting more speakers from developing and transition countries, linking to virtual sites and running a competition for students writing on development issues.