World Bank President David Malpass’s surprise resignation, which will take place by 30 June, comes as the World Bank shareholders are reviewing its draft ‘Evolution Roadmap’ aimed at expanding the Bank’s lending capacity and improving its ability to respond to global challenges, including climate change, fragility and growing global health threats. The process by which the World Bank selects Malpass’s replacement will speak volumes about the degree to which discussions about a World Bank ‘evolution’ go beyond superficial reforms underpinned by additional resources – and premised on increased expansion of the Bank’s preference for private sector-led development. Discussions about equipping the institution to better respond to global challenges and support the provision of global public goods cannot be taken seriously without an end to the gentleman’s agreement that has ensured a US monopoly on the presidency of the World Bank, with all of the Bank’s presidents to date being men.
As global civil society and social movements have long demanded, a new president should be appointed through a merit-based, transparent process with criteria publicly available and candidates being able to present their platform. The new process should at the very least mirror the process used to select the UN General Secretary, where candidates respond publicly to questions from civil society and social movements.
On the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and as the World Bank works to align its activities with the Paris Agreement this year and the United Nations works towards the Summit of the Future in 2024, it is essential that any candidate for the World Bank’s presidency demonstrates a commitment to human rights. This is required to ensure that any ‘evolution’ of the World Bank enables it to fulfil its development mandate, respond to multiple crises and to support a truly green and just transition.