On Wednesday, May 3, 2023, the Executive Directors of the World Bank President selected Ajay Banga as the next President of the World Bank, his term beginning on June 2, 2023. Mr. Banga assumes the role amid compounding global crises, including heightened global conflict, growing economic uncertainty and debt, and accelerating impacts of climate change. We encourage Mr. Banga to recognize this critical opportunity to promote sustainability, inclusion, and accountability at the institution.
Mr. Banga will join the Bank as the institution transforms its mission and purpose as part of an effort to evolve the MDB system, an initiative spearheaded by U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. At the end of 2022, the Bank released its Evolution Roadmap, detailing a plan to reshape its mission and scale up financing to address the growing global challenges of climate change, pandemic preparedness, and fragility, conflict, and violence (FCV). From his first day leading the Bank, Mr. Banga must demonstrate vision and leadership on how the Bank will implement, operationalize, and integrate this initiative with its twin goals of reducing poverty and promoting shared prosperity by fostering sustainable, resilient, and inclusive development.
At the same time as the Bank seeks to evolve its mission, it continues to fund projects and policies supporting fossil fuels, as well as forest-destroying livestock and infrastructure projects. We call on Mr. Banga to lead the Bank in responding to the urgency of the climate crisis with clear, transparent climate actions that meet the Bank’s commitment to align its entire portfolio with the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.
Finally, Mr. Banga must do more than articulate a clear vision of the World Bank Group’s development mission. As President of the World Bank, we expect Mr. Banga to commit to implementing that vision throughout all Bank-funded activities based on the following principles:
- Community-driven: Projects should be selected and designed in partnership with communities, and the institution should prioritize accountability to these stakeholders.
- Equitable: Project benefits should be equitably shared, and the negative impacts of projects must not disproportionately affect the poorest and most marginalized communities.
- Sustainable: All activities must be fiscally, socially, and environmentally sustainable to benefit current and future generations.
- Human rights-focused: The promotion and protection of human rights should be a key purpose and guiding principle of the institution.
- Transparent: The Bank should promote transparency and accountability in all its projects and policies and provide inclusive and meaningful opportunities for civil society and communities to engage with the institution on its practices and policies.
- Inclusive: Projects and programs should be designed and implemented to address the needs of marginalized groups, enabling all to benefit and not be harmed.
These principles should inform all Bank policies and projects, and we expect Mr. Banga to articulate a vision for how to incorporate them into the institution’s work meaningfully.
Since his nomination by President Biden to lead the World Bank, Mr. Banga has spoken about his vision for the Bank, often stating that the Bank needs to be willing to take risks to accelerate the rate of development. While we don't oppose risk-taking, it is critical that the burden of that risk not fall on the poorest and most vulnerable. Therefore, we expect Mr. Banga to pair this rhetoric with a commitment to strong safeguards, performance standard implementation, and a clear plan for providing remedy to communities when projects cause harm.
BIC recognizes the deep knowledge of global markets and significant experience in the financial sector that Mr. Banga brings to the position. Further, we appreciate his stated commitment to promoting economic inclusion and shared prosperity. However, Mr. Banga’s success will be determined by how he translates this background into a development context and if he promotes inclusion, accountability, and sustainability not only through rhetoric but in all Bank projects, programs and policies. At this critical time, the World Bank needs a President who will take a transparent, community-centered approach, while promoting civic engagement and the role of civil society. We look forward to working with Mr. Banga on these critical issues.