PARIS/STANFORD – Ajay Banga, the newly-appointed President of the World Bank, is taking the helm at a pivotal moment. The devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have impeded progress in developing countries and pushed 124 million people into extreme poverty. And Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, which has exacerbated inflation and US-China tensions, promises to trigger even more volatility. Consequently, the Bank projects that economic activity in emerging economies will not return to pre-pandemic levels by 2024.
Low- and middle-income countries need the World Bank to spearhead global efforts to reduce extreme poverty and enhance living standards. By helping them to reduce their debt burdens and combat climate change, the Bank could also help to improve their air and water quality, increase their access to clean energy, and bolster their food security.