woods49_Kent Nishimura  Los Angeles Times via Getty Images_ajay banga Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

A Memo to the Next World Bank President

With the world facing a confluence of climate, debt, energy, and security crises, the World Bank’s next president has a historic opportunity to shake the institution out of its sclerotic state. But to do that, the Bank’s incoming head must lead on behalf of all countries, rather than take orders from its largest shareholder.

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).

Banga is certainly qualified for the job. As the former CEO of Mastercard, he has experience running a global business with staff delivering services all over the world. He has also worked in microfinance and advised US Vice President Kamala Harris.

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