OXFORD – The World Bank will soon pick a new president. With the world facing a confluence of climate, debt, energy, and security crises, the leadership change comes at a pivotal moment for the institution. A more active leader could put the Bank in pole position to assist countries in crisis, help fight climate change, and facilitate cooperation between the United States and China, despite their escalating rivalry. But to do that, the new president must avoid the traps into which his well-intentioned predecessors have fallen.
The leadership race has moved quickly. A week after current President David Malpass announced on February 15 that he would step down, the World Bank’s Executive Board announced that nominations would be accepted until March 29 and urged countries to nominate women. But within a day of the Board’s statement, the US announced that its candidate would be Ajay Banga, effectively ending the real contest, given that every World Bank president has been the US nominee (likewise, the International Monetary Fund’s managing director has always been a European nominee).