jim yong kim Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Leader the World Bank Needs

At a time when populists and nationalists around the world are challenging the legitimacy of leading multilateral institutions, the World Bank Group must select a new president. The preferred candidate should be someone who will double down on the Bank's mission of helping developing countries address urgent challenges.

ITHACA/WASHINGTON, DC – Jim Yong Kim’s sudden resignation as president of the World Bank Group (WBG) offers an opportunity to reflect on the direction, legitimacy, and effectiveness of that 75-year old institution. Like other multilateral institutions, the Bank in recent years has been criticized for its elitism and for championing outmoded models of economic globalization that have failed to deliver broad-based benefits. It has also become another staging ground for the geopolitical great-power rivalry between the United States and China.

Recognizing this, finance ministers and central bank governors from the G20 established a commission in April 2017 to recommend reforms to the global financial architecture and the international financial institutions. And at a G20 meeting in October 2018, the commission issued a report outlining steps “to create a cooperative international order for a world that has changed irreversibly.”

The proper mission of multilateral development finance institutions is to help solve urgent, large-scale problems in the developing world. For example, we are currently witnessing the largest urban expansion in history, and managing it will require a doubling of the global infrastructure stock within the next 15 years. Multilateral institutions also have a role to play in addressing the great expansion of Africa’s population, and in laying the foundation for sustainable, decarbonized economic growth across the developing world. Failing that, the world should expect to see more migration, unemployment, frustration, and anger in the years ahead.

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