BIC’s Statement on the Resignation of World Bank President David Malpass

After coming under criticism for his comments on climate change several months ago, World Bank President David Malpass announced he is stepping down from his position as head of the World Bank at the end of June 2023. BIC encourages the World Bank Board to select a new President committed to promoting sustainability, inclusion, and accountability at the institution.

On Wednesday, February 15, 2023, World Bank President David Malpass announced he would be stepping down from his position at the end of June 2023, about a year before his term ends. Appointed during the Trump Administration, Mr. Malpass has led the Bank over the last four years amid compounding crises, including the global pandemic, economic downturn, and accelerating impacts of climate change.

Throughout his tenure, BIC has criticized his poor leadership and failure to promote sustainability, inclusion, and accountability at the Bank. In September 2022, Mr. Malpass denied that burning fossil fuels causes climate change, setting off alarm bells and prompting calls for his resignation from civil society and government representatives around the world. Those alarm bells are long overdue as the World Bank continues to fund projects and policies supporting fossil fuels and forest-destroying livestock and infrastructure projects. We call on the next World Bank President 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.

The next World Bank President will assume the role 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 World 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).

As civil society has called for in similar selection processes, the selection process for the next World Bank Group President must be transparent and merit-based, and the Board should communicate regularly with stakeholders on the selection process and candidate criteria. The next World Bank President 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.

BIC believes that the next World Bank President must do more than articulate a clear vision of the World Bank Group’s development mission. The next President must also commit to implementing that vision throughout all Bank-funded activities based on the following principles:

  1. Community-driven. Projects should be selected and designed in partnership with communities, and the institution should prioritize accountability to these stakeholders.
  2. Equitable. Project benefits should be equitably shared, and the negative impacts of projects must not disproportionately affect the poorest and most marginalized communities.
  3. Sustainable. All activities must be fiscally, socially, and environmentally sustainable to benefit current and future generations.
  4. Human rights-focused. The promotion and protection of human rights should be a key purpose and guiding principle of the institution.
  5. 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.
  6. 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 the Board should evaluate the next World Bank President on their vision to incorporate them in the institution’s work meaningfully.

The next World Bank President will be highly influential in shaping the Bank’s response to compounding global challenges, determining if the institution will remain a leader in development finance. For this reason, we encourage the Board to prioritize candidates with strong development experience and a community-centered approach and seek out candidates who are committed to promoting sustainability, inclusion, and accountability at the institution.