World Bank to open nominations for successor to David Malpass

The World Bank on Thursday will open a five-week period for nominations to succeed President David Malpass, days after he announced his early departure from the anti-poverty lender, and expects to select a new chief by early May.

The executive board met on Wednesday to discuss the selection process and will accept nominations through March 29, the institution said in a statement. Executive directors, who will decide on a shortlist of up to three candidates and conduct formal interviews, said they strongly encourage the nomination of women.

Candidates should have “a proven track record of leadership and accomplishment, particularly in development” and “experience of managing large organizations with international exposure, among other qualifications,” the board said.

Malpass’s decision last week to step down gives President Joe Biden’s administration an opening to pick someone to carry out its goal of overhauling the global development lender to focus more on fighting climate change. His five-year term was set to run through April 2024. The Washington-based institution lends tens of billions of dollars a year to low- and middle-income countries.

By tradition, the US nominates the Washington-based institution’s president. But the process has included non-US candidates in the past. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the current head of the World Trade Organization, and Colombian Finance Minister Jose Antonio Ocampo were both candidates in 2012, when the job went to Dartmouth College President Jim Yong Kim.

Malpass was the only candidate nominated in 2019, when he was put forward by US President Donald Trump.

The US is the World Bank’s largest shareholder, and its voice usually carries the biggest weight at the lender. Names mentioned by analysts as potential Biden administration picks include Samantha Power, head of the US Agency for International Development, and Rajiv Shah, the president of the Rockefeller Foundation and a former head of USAID.

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen last week said that the Biden administration looks forward to the World Bank’s executive board running a “transparent, merit-based and swift nomination process.”

The US will put forward a candidate who will build on the bank’s longstanding work to fight extreme poverty, promote shared prosperity, and advance work to evolve the development bank to meet global challenges, Yellen said.

Yellen is in Bangalore, India, this week, where finance ministers and central bank governors from the Group of 20 rich countries are gathering, and she’s scheduled to speak at a news conference on Thursday.

Along with the International Monetary Fund and host India, the World Bank is organizing a sovereign debt roundtable in Bangalore with the hope of fixing the bottlenecks that have prevented quick restructuring of the debt of fragile nations.

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