Operationalizing the WDR08: Agriculture for Development
The World Bank’s annual World Development Report (WDR) is a comprehensive study on the economic, social and environmental state of the world. Each year, the report provides an in depth analysis focused on a specific aspect of development. For the first time in 25 years, the WDR addressed issues on agriculture and development. On February 19, 2008, major contributors to the report met at the World Bank in Washington, DC and presented their findings. They shared their recommendations on how the Bank might best operationalize the WDR, noting that one of the more significant challenges the Bank faces is an increasingly aggressive and competitive global market environment.
The panel was moderated by Kristalina Georgieva, Director for Strategy & Operations, Sustainable Development Network (SDN). Panel members included Juergen Voegele, former Director for Agriculture in the Central Network, Shantayanan Devarajan, Chief Economist for South Asia, Derek Byerlee, Sr. Advisor Africa Region and the lead on the World Development Report Team, and Alan Gelb , Director of Development Policy, DEC.
Gelb, spoke of the positive response to the WDR. He attributed it to the Bank’s goal of achieving the first Millennium Development Goal (MDG): eradicating poverty and hunger. If this MDG is to be met, he said, there must be agricultural progress in the rural areas, where 75% of the poor live and work.
Byerlee discussed feedback from the dissemination process. He attributed the recent interest in agri-business to the increasingly high prices for many agricultural commodities. He also noted an increased and aggressive interest by the private sector. Derrick presented his ideas on the operational aspects of the report, his vision and the accompanying challenges. The report findings revealed a significant shift toward increased investment in agriculture, especially in countries such as Malawi, Kenya, Vietnam, and India. He emphasized the need for better understanding of the political economy surrounding agricultural policy decisions. One of the biggest challenges will be developing the capacity to implement complex and multi-sectoral agricultural programs, Byerlee said.
Devarajan said the WDR provides a useful framework for improving Agricultural Productivity Growth (AGP) in South Asia. He identified AGP as a key problem for operationalization of the WDR in South Asia. While the country has been growing at 6 to 7% a year, poverty has not declined. He highlighted what he sees as barriers toward improving agricultural productivity.
Voegele, quizzed the audience and asked if there were country directors present, if anyone had discussed the WDR with a country director and of those present, and how many had read the report. Voegele asked these questions in order to emphasize the need for staff to more aggressively disseminate the messages of the report. He stated that convincing country directors would one of the more significant challenges. A questions and comments session followed and topics for the second session were introduced.
How do you 'operationalize' a report in the World Bank?