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Ajay Banga's biggest challenges as he becomes president-elect of the World Bank

Written by Sara Pantuliano, Annalisa Prizzon, Chris Humphrey, Sarah Colenbrander, Hans Peter Lankes, Suma Chakrabarti

Press Release

Welcoming Ajay Banga’s appointment as next President of the World Bank, CEO of global affairs think tank Sara Pantuliano said:

“Ajay’s big challenge will be to make the World Bank a real driver of change, against a backdrop of interlocking global crises – the pandemic, soaring prices, increasing instability and the climate emergency.

“The task of modernising the 80-year-old Bank won’t be at all easy, but Ajay has the vision and pragmatism needed. His experience as a transformational leader will be invaluable.

“The Bank could do so much more to help countries reduce poverty, rebuild from crises and create jobs whilst also showing real leadership on climate. But so far the Bank has lacked a clear vision and strategy to tackle the interconnected challenges of development, climate and fragility effectively. The measure of Ajay’s Presidency will be whether he can do that.”

ODI Principal Research Fellow and lead MDB reform specialist Annalisa Prizzon said:

“Ajay will need to bring all his business expertise to bear on improving the Bank’s strategy and approach, to meet the tough economic times. In these tough economic times the Bank is needed more than ever, but it’s been playing much too safe under outgoing President David Malpass. Put simply, it must use its capital better. It can lend billions more in funds without fresh injections of capital. Still, let's be clear: the reform agenda of the World Bank will eventually require more capital, and it is absolutely crucial that this benefits both low- and middle-income countries. Donors and shareholders should ensure that future IDA replenishments for the poorest countries match this ambition. On a separate note, government officials in low- and middle-income countries have told me that they want it to be easier and less onerous to borrow from the bank.”

Five ODI experts offer their views on what they would like to see from President-Elect Banga's first 100 days:

  • Push World Bank staff to think much more critically about how they can support countries to align their national development strategies with international climate goals. The global low-carbon transition is accelerating and the physical impacts of climate change are becoming more severe. The World Bank cannot keep development and climate in separate boxes any more: it needs to help its client countries forge climate-smart economic development strategies – Sarah Colenbrander, ODI Climate Director

  • Set a path to seriously consider the entire set of recommendations of the G20’s Capital Adequacy Framework review and how the World Bank can play a lead role in delivering them – Chris Humphrey, ODI Senior Research Associate

  • Create space in the reform of the World Bank to respond better to client countries, streamlining processes and agreeing on standards with other MDBs – Annalisa Prizzon, ODI Principal Research Fellow and lead specialist on MDB reform

  • Lay the groundwork for enabling the World Bank Group as a whole to mobilise the private sector and private capital for development and do so strategically and operationally in an integrated manner drawing on the strengths of all parts of the Group. The IFC and MIGA must embrace development, and IBRD must embrace the private sector – Hans Peter Lankes, ODI Visiting Senior Fellow

  • Take a much stronger leadership role in coordination with other MDBs. There is a need for collective action to fully harness capacities and complementarities across the system – Suma Chakrabarti, ODI Board Chair and former President, EBRD

Read more in ODI’s open letter to Ajay Banga.

Notes to editors

Media enquiries

To interview Sara Pantuliano, Annalisa Prizzon, Sarah Colenbrander, Chris Humphrey, Hans Peter Lankes or Suma Chakrabati please contact ODI Chief Press Officer Karen Triggs [email protected] +44 7586 110374

About ODI

Independent global affairs think tank ODI inspires people to act on injustice and inequality. We focus on research, convening and influencing, to generate ideas that matter for people and planet. odi.org/en/about/