What should Mr. Goldfajn prioritize as the new leader of the Inter-American Development Bank?

Ilan Goldfajn has been elected as the new IDB president by the IDB's Board of Governors. BIC and civil society partners shared some recommendations on what the new president should prioritize. We believe that Mr. Goldfajn has a unique opportunity to spearhead this shift to a healthier, more accountable, and more effective IDB, which is prepared to deliver on its commitments to enhance sustainable development throughout the LAC region.

On November 20, the Board of Governors of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) elected Ilan Goldfajn as IDB president. Following the removal of Claver-Carone, Goldfajn was nominated by Brazil, and will take office for a five-year term on December 19, 2022. It is already promising that during his campaign he mentioned using the IDB’s firepower to address poverty, inequality, food insecurity, and climate change as top priorities.

As the new leader of the region’s most preeminent development finance institution, it is critical that Mr. Goldfajn leads by example, holding himself and his administration to the highest ethical standards. This will enable him to gain the trust of IDB management as well as the institution’s Board of Directors and will better position the IDB to lead by example in negotiations with borrowing governments.

BIC and partners believe that it will be critical for Mr. Goldfajn to articulate a clear, progressive, and community-centered vision for the IDB Group’s development mission over the next five years. This vision should prioritize addressing critical development challenges in the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region, in particular by:

  1. Focusing projects on communities and prioritizing accountability to those stakeholders; 
  2. Reducing inequality by guaranteeing that project benefits are equitably shared and negative impacts do not disproportionately fall on the most marginalized; 
  3. Promoting sustainable development by scaling up and mainstreaming climate action;
  4. Fulfilling human rights commitments, especially preventing reprisals against human rights defenders and others who engage in IDB projects and programs; and
  5. Committing to prioritizing the effective and full implementation of the Environmental and Social Policy Framework (ESPF) adopted in 2020. Read this update for recommendations about what the IDB should do to fully implement its ESPF.

For more information, see the open letter prepared by civil society organizations on the election of the IDB president.

Mr. Goldfajn should take advantage of this moment to promote a cultural shift within the institution. An effort should be made to open space for civil society and project-affected people to engage with all levels of the institution, recognizing the critical role these actors play in preventing IDB Group-sponsored development from harming people and the environment. One concrete step in this direction would be to open space for effective engagement with civil society during the IDB Annual Meeting.

This new administration can foster an institutional culture that recognizes that with development comes risk and that the best way to handle that risk is by learning from mistakes rather than seeking to sweep them under the rug. This new culture is open to interactions and constructive criticism from external stakeholders and receptive to findings from its accountability mechanism.

Mr. Goldfajn can spearhead this shift to a healthier, more accountable, and more effective IDB, which is prepared to deliver on its commitments to enhance sustainable development throughout the region.