World Bank and IMF cancel in-person Spring Meetings in Washington D.C. over coronavirus, to be held online

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The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank announced on Tuesday that the 2020 Spring Meetings that were scheduled to hold in Washington DC in April with thousands of people in attendance will now be held online to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and keep participants safe.

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The IMF and World Bank took similar extraordinary steps in the wake of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York and Washington―by postponing and then shifting policy meetings to another location.

In a joint statement received by TODAY NEWS AFRICA in Washington D.C., the IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva and World Bank Group President David Malpass said the 2020 IMF-World Bank Group Spring Meetings will adopt a virtual format.

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“Like everyone else around the world, we have been deeply concerned by the evolving situation of the Coronavirus and the human tragedy surrounding it. Given growing health concerns related to the virus, the Management of the IMF and World Bank Group and their Executive Boards have agreed to implement a joint plan to adapt the 2020 IMF-World Bank Spring Meetings to a virtual format. Our goal is to serve our membership effectively while ensuring the health and safety of Spring Meetings participants and staff.

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“We remain fully committed to maintaining a productive dialogue with our stakeholders and will leverage our IT-related and virtual connection capabilities to the fullest to hold our essential policy consultations with the membership. We will also continue to share IMF and World Bank analyses. With this adapted format, we are confident that our member countries will be able to effectively engage on pressing global economic issues at these Spring Meetings,” they wrote.

Questions & Answers about the 2020 Spring Meetings

Last Updated: March 3, 2020, by the IMF and World Bank

The IMF and the World Bank have agreed to implement a joint plan to adapt the 2020 IMF-World Bank Spring Meetings to a virtual format. In the questions & answers below, we have provided more detailed information on what that means for delegates, civil society, parliamentarians, the media, and all other participants in the Spring Meetings.

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Why are you cancelling the Meetings?

  • The Spring Meetings are not being cancelled. They will be held virtually, leveraging our IT-related and virtual connection capabilities. Like everyone else around the world, we are deeply concerned by the evolving situation of COVID-19 and the human tragedy surrounding it. Given growing health concerns related to the virus, the IMF and World Bank Group and their Executive Boards have agreed to implement a joint plan to adapt the 2020 IMF-World Bank Spring Meetings to a virtual format. Our goal is to serve our membership effectively while ensuring the health and safety of Spring Meetings participants and staff.

Are any officials traveling to Washington to attend the 2020 Spring Meetings?

  • Delegates will not attend the Meetings in person, with the possible exception of a small number of delegates participating in official meetings. The IMF and the World Bank Group will instead conduct their official consultations and related flagship press briefings remotely.
  • Both institutions remain fully committed to sharing their policy advice and analysis and will maintain a productive dialogue with all stakeholders by leveraging IT and virtual connection capabilities to the fullest.

What will happen to the meetings of the International Monetary and Financial Committee (IMFC) and the Development Committee (DC)?

  • The IMF and the World Bank Group will proceed with the meetings of the International Monetary and Financial Committee and Development Committee. The modalities for the meeting of the International Monetary and Financial Committee are still being considered, while the Development Committee will conduct its meeting virtually.
  • Official delegates who will participate in the sessions of the International Monetary and Financial Committee and Development Committee will receive further instructions from the Secretary and from the office of their Executive Director of their respective institutions.

What does a “virtual meeting” format imply?

  • This means we will leverage our IT and virtual connections capabilities to the fullest, complemented by our online platforms (such as the World Bank Group and IMF websites and social media accounts), online media briefing centers, and other means of digital communications. We remain fully committed to sharing the IMF and World Bank’s policy advice and analysis in real time and maintaining a productive dialogue with all our stakeholders through a new adaptive format for the Spring Meetings.

What about the release of IMF flagship publications such as the World Economic Outlook, the Global Financial Stability Report, and the Fiscal Monitor?

  • The IMF’s flagship publications will be released on time as previously scheduled. Including through virtual press conferences hosted by the Fund’s Online Media Briefing Center. The IMF’s media relations team will communicate the schedule for upcoming press briefings in the coming days.
  • The World Bank Group media relations team will communicate the schedule for press briefings ahead of the virtual-only meetings.

Is it necessary to register to participate in the virtual Spring Meetings?

  • No. Registration for all categories of participants (Delegates, Observers, Guests, Press, and CSOs) is now suspended. All previous confirmations will be cancelled.
  • The Secretaries of the IMF and the World Bank Group will liaise with country authorities directly to make arrangements for participation in the official meetings of the International Monetary and Financial Committee and Development Committee.

How can media participate in any of the events?

How can civil society ensure its voice is still heard if the Spring Meetings will no longer take place in person?

  • The World Bank Group and IMF are committed to listening to civil society groups through information sharing, dialogue, and consultation at the global, regional and national levels. We will continue our engagement with civil society as usual outside the Meetings and will work with a group of civil society representatives advising us on what form our engagement could take during the Meetings.

What arrangements are you proposing for the Parliamentary Network?

  • Parliamentarians and the Parliamentary Network are a core component of the World Bank Group and IMF engagement with the membership. Because we have adapted the 2020 Spring Meetings format, the planned physical meetings of the Parliamentary Network in Washington DC are postponed until the fall. The IMF and World Bank Group public affairs teams will continue their engagement with members of the Parliamentary Network through conference calls and other digital forms of communications as needed.

What happens to the IMF and World Bank Programs of Events?

  • The IMF and World Bank Programs of Events have been cancelled because of the decision to adapt the Meetings to a virtual format. The Programs are expected to return to their regular format for the 2020 Annual Meetings.

Is this the first time that the two institutions are implementing plans for the Spring and Annual Meetings?

  • The IMF and World Bank took similar extraordinary steps in the wake of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York and Washington―by postponing and then shifting policy meetings to another location.
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Simon Ateba
Simon Ateba covers the White House, the U.S. government, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions for Today News Africa in Washington D.C. Simon can be reached on simonateba@todaynewsafrica.com

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