palacio142_TONY KARUMBAAFP via Getty Images_ajay banga TONY KARUMBA/AFP via Getty Images

The Shakeup the World Bank Needs

If Ajay Banga is confirmed as World Bank President – as is likely – he will have to find ways to meet the demands of a Global South that is eager for change. Failure to do so would undermine the Bank’s long-term viability; and jeopardize the West’s future ability to exercise its convening power.

MADRID – Major changes are afoot at the World Bank, but few people seem to be paying attention. Beyond devising a new, greener mission, the Bank is undergoing a leadership transition, with important implications for its relationship with the Global South and the institution’s long-term relevance.

By the time David Malpass, the World Bank’s president, announced his resignation last month, tensions over the Bank’s stance on climate change had been building for months. Chosen for the job by former President Donald Trump’s administration, Malpass faced considerable pressure when Joe Biden took over, with the US Treasury expressing dissatisfaction with the Bank’s failure to show genuine climate leadership.

Criticism of Malpass escalated in September, after he refused to acknowledge the role of human greenhouse-gas emissions in driving climate change. While he subsequently did so, his backpedaling did nothing to diminish accusations that, under his leadership, the World Bank was not doing nearly enough to align its lending with global emissions-reduction goals.