Two UNSW students have attended the World Bank and IMF annual meeting in Washington DC, and met with World Bank President Dr Jim Kim and IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde.
Co-op Scholars Tom Perfrement and Susan Deng were in the US capital as youth delegates, chosen through the scholarship program, which partners with the UNSW Co-op Scholarship program to provide opportunities for young Australians to develop a deeper understanding of international policy.
Both students are in their final year of study at UNSW: Perfrement is completing a Bachelor of Chemical Engineering and Deng a Bachelor of Commerce.
“It was an incredible privilege and honour to be chosen to represent Australia on the world stage at the World Bank and IMF annual meeting,” said Perfrement.
Deng added: “It allowed us to visit the epicentre of global affairs and policy to hear the vision of the World Bank and IMF from the source.”
Before leaving for Washington DC, the students attended pre-departure briefings in Canberra, which involved meeting members of Parliament and Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
It was really valuable to be able to converse and pose questions to these decision makers and policy experts directly, a rare level of exposure that could not be substituted by a Google search.
“At these meetings we were informed of Australia's policy priorities for the World Bank annual meeting,” said Perfrement.
In Washington, the pair took part in a Civil Society roundtable with World Bank President Dr Jim Kim, and IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde, as well as representatives from nations across the world.
“I thought our level of access to panel discussions by high profile people such as Dr Jim Yong Kim, Christine Lagarde was fantastic,” said Deng.
“It was interesting to see first-hand how the leaders of these vast institutions consider the needs of so many different groups from different countries, while balancing political and budget constraints,” she says.
Perfrement and Deng also had private meetings with Australian executives on the World Bank and IMF board, as well as DC-based policy think tanks and the US Department of State.
“It was really valuable to be able to converse and pose questions to these decision makers and policy experts directly, a rare level of exposure that could not be substituted by a Google search,” said Deng.
“Meeting with Australia's executive director to the World Bank Jason Allford, and Australia's executive director to the IMF Barry Sterland, was an extraordinary experience where we were able to gain insight into Australia's role and focus within these institutions,” Perfrement said.
As a Global Voices delegate, the students were required to investigate an issue relevant to the World Bank and its mission to eliminate extreme poverty.
Perfrement’s research focus was the role of economic policy in addressing the global migration crisis, and Deng examined the issue of international corporate tax avoidance.
“The experience left me inspired to contribute towards the key challenges discussed at the forum, such as climate change and the global migration crisis,” Perfrement said.
Deng said: “Finance can have such incredible applications in the pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals and I really enjoyed hearing the new financial products and developments to encourage investment in developing economies.
“The trip opened up my eyes to opportunities to work in the public and not-for-profit sector, as well as the contribution that can be made from partnerships between private and public sectors.”