April 3, 2012

On March 21, Professor José Antonio Ocampo was nominated by Brazil for the Presidency of the World Bank and was named by the G-11 as one of the top two credible candidates for that position. Ocampo’s nomination represents an effort by developing economies to put forth candidates for the Presidency, which has been held by an American since the World Bank’s founding. Ocampo has worked extensively in the economic and diplomatic spheres, including serving as Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs at the UN and as the Finance Minister for Colombia. Interim Dean Rob Lieberman reacted to news of Ocampo’s nomination by saying, “we’re thrilled to see another one of our faculty recognized for solving the world’s toughest development problems. Jose Antonio represents what SIPA is all about—a blend of world-class scholarship, practice, and a deep commitment to making the world a better place.”

The World Bank board will select the next President by the end of April, and developing economies have ramped up their efforts to put forward viable contenders. Ocampo is the second SIPA professor to be nominated: Professor Jeffrey Sachs was endorsed by several countries before removing himself from the running. An American has always helmed the Bank since its founding in the aftermath of World War II, and Ocampo’s nomination signals the desire of some member countries to see someone from a developing economy, rather than from the Bank’s primary funder, at the head of the organization. On his qualifications, Ocampo says: “I have dedicated my 36 years of professional experience to development. I have the broadest experience among the candidates, having occupied high level positions at the national, regional and global institutions, and covering from policy work to academic research, where I started my professional life and I am working now.”

Ocampo is the director of SIPA’s Economic and Political Development Concentration as well as a fellow of the Committee on Global Thought at Columbia University. His publications focus on international economics and trade, economic and social development, and the economic histories of Colombia and Latin America. Prior to his time at SIPA, Ocampo worked in several capacities within the United Nations, most notably as Under-Secretary General for Economic and Social Affairs. He has also held many positions within the Colombian government, including Finance Minister, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, and Chairman of the Board of the Central Bank of Colombia.