Empowering Australian Voices at the 2023 World Bank and International Monetary Fund Annual Meetings

26 Oct 2023

I’m Julian Garratt, a 2020 Data Science and Decisions Scholar and I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the 2023 International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank (WB) Annual Meetings in Marrakech, Morocco from the 9th to the 15th of October. The scholarship is in collaboration with Global Voices, an Australian non-profit that provides a platform for young Australians to develop policy on pressing domestic issues. 

During the week of the IMF/WB Annual Meetings, each day provided a new opportunity to engage in global issues through talks presented by leading experts from the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, private companies and NGOs. At the end of each day, our team reflected by using the rose, thorn, bud template. The “rose” represents all of the successes from the day, the “thorn” all possible challenges and the “bud” represents new ideas or takeaways. In the same way that we reflected on each day with this technique, here are my roses, thorns and buds for my time at the 2023 IMF/WB Annual Meetings.

Rose (key successes)

Coming from a technology background, I found it incredibly exciting and rewarding to engage in topics outside of my expertise such as data-driven policymaking, state vs private ownership, monetary policy and the role of civil society organisations in the World Bank and IMF.

Aside from technical knowledge, a significant highlight of the annual meetings was the opportunity to network with high-impact individuals through bilateral engagements. I personally found that our meeting with Fijian lawyer and human rights activist Imrana Jalal was fascinating and gave a deep perspective on how the World Bank and her current employer the Asian Development Bank incentivise positive change.

L-R: Julian Garratt (UNSW Co-op Policy Fellow), Bayan Yazdani (Menzies Foundation Policy Fellow), Elly Hanrahan (Global Voices Program Manager), Ajay Banga (President of the World Bank), Ryan Kirby (Curtin University Policy Fellow), Mary Nega (CEO of Global Voices)

Thorn (challenges and learnings)

In the first few days, I struggled with burnout and managing my time efficiently. Due to the number of meetings throughout the day, it can be easy to forget to take breaks, reflect and collect yourself before diving into another presentation or panel talk. 

Imposter syndrome is also another barrier to maximising the experience that at times stopped me from asking questions to approaching someone. However, recalling my times on placement helped me to persevere and build great connections with experts on AI and climate policy. 

Post annual meetings, we were able to experience a day trip to the Atlas Mountains, an hour's drive from Marrakech!

Bud (new ideas)

Set in Marrakech, there was a strong focus on the economic output and growth of Africa. A key takeaway for me was the perspective on inclusive growth for Artificial Intelligence and its governance in the African continent. I was also able to develop my own policy research over the course of the annual meetings and am looking forward to continuing the dialogue that I established with researchers and policymakers over the coming months.

Each flag represents a constituent country of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

Attending the WB/IMF Annual Meetings was a huge learning experience for me, however, exploring and enjoying Marrakech made the experience a highlight of the year. I can’t recommend this opportunity to future scholars enough and am always available to answer any questions through my LinkedIn.