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Will David Malpass Trump the World Bank?

The World Bank is vital to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, which would transform the lives of millions. That is why it is so important that the Bank's incoming president strengthens its commitment to equity and avoids a narrow focus on economic growth.

LONDON – David Malpass has taken over as World Bank president, and he carries some heavy political baggage. He is, after all, the pick of US President Donald Trump, raising fears that he may use the position to open a new front in Trump’s trade war with China, weaken the Bank’s leadership on climate change, and undercut multilateralism more broadly.

At this week’s International Monetary Fund-World Bank Spring Meetings, Malpass needs to address these concerns head-on. He should be judged not by his past, or by his links to the Trump administration, but by his delivery. As leader of a 189-member multilateral institution with a remit to tackle some of the greatest injustices of our time, from poverty to extreme inequality and global warming, Malpass is stepping into one of the world’s most important jobs.

Whatever the circumstances of his appointment, the temptation to pass sentence on Malpass ahead of a fair trial should be avoided. His anti-multilateral instincts can be overstated. As a senior US Treasury Department official, he helped engineer a $13-billion capital increase for the World Bank last year. He has also signaled an intent to keep poverty reduction at the heart of the Bank’s mission. 

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