Introducing the new representative at the Inter-American Development Bank: Bjorn Kuil

On August 1st Bjorn Kuil started as Senior Counselor at the Board of the Inter-American bjorn kuilDevelopment Bank, having previously held the position of senior policy officer at the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs since October 2013.  “Throughout my career in the public and private sector I’ve come to realize that finance can leverage relationships, mitigate risks, and plays an important catalytic role. It has become my mission working towards sustainable, inclusive economic development as this is an indispensable part of efforts to combat poverty and improve global living conditions in line with the Sustainable Development Agenda. When looking at all the challenges facing the world, including inequality, population migration, and climate change, there is a clear role for development finance in nearly all of them.”

Founded in 1959, the IDB is the largest regional development bank and the main source of multilateral financing in Latin America & the Caribbean (LAC). In 2018 the IDB Group approved loans, guarantees and grants for a record level of USD 17.5 billion to promote sustainable economic development and expand opportunities for the poor. The IDB has 48 country members – 26 borrowing member LAC countries, and 22 nonborrowing members (US, Canada, and 20 nonregional countries, including The Netherlands). NL is part of a constituency within the IDB headed alternately by Germany and Italy, consisting also of Israel, Switzerland, Belgium and China. The Constituency has 5% voting power and LAC borrowing member countries have slightly more than 50% of the voting power on the bank’s board.

Looking at 2019, growth forecasts for the region are positive, but potential growth is lower than ten years ago. To correct this situation, it is paramount for LAC economies to increase productivity and the accumulation of physical and human capital, while ensuring that growth is inclusive. There have been substantial changes in the political landscape recently, in countries like Brazil and Mexico, and less recently in Argentina. Ongoing condition in Venezuela will put the region under additional pressure. Whether it’s conflict, climate change, economic stagnation or migration flows: inequality is always a major underlying factor. It is my believe that the IDB can do more to support the region. On February 13, 2019 S&P published an update on IDB’s rating assessment and the stand-alone credit profile was assessed at ‘aaa’ rather than ‘aa+’. This demonstrates improved confidence in the organization as IDB’s governance and risk management framework has strengthened and allows the IDB to continue improving lives in the region.

Through my experience working in the City in London I have been able to see firsthand where finance can go wrong but I also got an understanding how to get deals done and structure a transaction. Working as a policy officer within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs I worked closely with the Dutch Development Bank FMO and experienced that finance is also a tool to accomplish wonderful things. The Bank’s priorities are evolving, and I want to continue focusing on impact management with a great variety of stakeholders faced with complex issues that have a wide effect on society.

I am pleased that I can continue to build on a record of solid achievement by my predecessor Johannes (Sjeng) Smeets. There is no doubt that coming months will continue to be turbulent and accompanied by new challenges which will require rapid and appropriate response in global cooperation.

The opportunity to introduce myself is very much appreciated.  I want to encourage civil society, private sector, knowledge institutions and many others to reach out to the IDB and its members to explore new opportunities for cooperation so that Latin America and the Caribbean becomes the land of opportunities and progress of which we all dream. I am happy to facilitate the process in the years to come!

By: Bjorn Kuil, Senior Counselor at the Inter-American Development Bank.

Björn Kuil has been appointed as Dutch representative at the Board of Directors of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) in August 2018, having previously held the position of senior policy officer at the sustainable economic development department at the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs since October 2013. Prior to his appointment at IDB, Mr. Kuil worked at the Royal Bank of Scotland. Björn holds a MSc. in Business Administration and a MSc. in International Management both from the Erasmus University in Rotterdam. In his spare time, he enjoys sailing, gardening, family and travel.