World Bank President Visits

Robert Zoellick

Students lined the walls of Carnegie Mellon University's Kresge Theatre for last week's visit by Robert Zoellick, 11th President of the World Bank Group.

"Mr. Zoellick brings a truly global perspective to issues related to the intersection of politics, culture, markets and technology," said Kiron Skinner, associate professor of social and decision sciences and director of CMU's Center for International Relations and Politics (CIRP).

Skinner is one of the country's most renowned experts in international relations, U.S. foreign policy and political strategy. She authored Turning Points in Ending the Cold War — a landmark work in international history and has served on boards like the U.S. Defense Department's Defense Policy Board in addition to holding membership on the Council on Foreign Relations.

"When Kiron asked me to come to Carnegie Mellon, I was very interested because I have great respect for her work," Zoellick said. 

Zoellick spent a few opening minutes discussing the role of the World Bank — comprised of five agencies with 187 member countries — in reducing developing countries' poverty through investment and international trade.

"Most people think what 'banks' are about is lending money," he explained. "But in reality, when the World Bank Group is at it's most effective, money is only one component."

"First, we share knowledge and experience across the globe. And, compared to the size of international capital markets, we're still a drop in the bucket," explained Zoellick. "When we make investments, we also try to look for ways that we can have influence beyond the individual market or investment."

Moderated by Skinner, the question and answer session was sponsored by CIRP, the Thomas M. Kerr, Jr. Prelaw Program and the Global Studies Major, all within CMU's Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Global Studies is an interdepartmental major combining theory, history and language training, helping students to better understand complex global issues and become engaged 'citizens of the world.'

Lines formed for the chance to pose questions to Zoellick, who has served as vice chairman-International of Goldman Sachs, U.S. trade representative and deputy secretary of state.

Topics included:

  • The World Bank's World Development Report on gender equality: "Gender equality is the fair and right thing to do — but it's also smart economics."
  • Climate change: "You'll never deal with climate change issues unless you engage emerging markets in developing countries. Our goal is to connect the issue of development and growth with the climate change agenda"
  • Carbon production regulation: "Try to look at how market incentives can work because I honestly think that's the only way we're really going to be able to address these environmental issues."
  • Agricultural subsidies: "If there's any lesson from the U.S. agricultural program subsidies, it's be careful about these becoming a black hole for absorbing a large amount of money."

Other topics raised included information technologies, human rights, multinationals in the developing world, microfinance, women in China and sustainable technology.

During Zoellick's visit he said, "I'm very flattered to have such an audience … I certainly know the quality of this university and it's a wonderful opportunity."


Related Links: World Bank | Dietrich College | Media advisory | CIRP: Center for International Relations and Politics