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Malpass led the World Bank through the Covid-19 response and had started work on the lender’s evolution roadmap to help it better address global challenges like climate change and pandemics. Image Credit: AFP

New York: World Bank President David Malpass said he plans to step down early, giving the Biden administration an opening to pick someone who can carry out its goal of overhauling the lender to developing nations.

Malpass, 66, informed the institution’s board of his intentions to depart by the end of the fiscal year on June 30, the Washington-based lender said in a statement Wednesday.

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A former top Treasury Department official, Malpass was nominated to his post by then-President Donald Trump in 2019. He ran into controversy last year after fumbling a question at a conference on the causes of climate change, fueling calls for his removal amid criticism that he didn’t accept the scientific consensus of the impact of man-made emissions.

Malpass since said he “really wasn’t prepared” when he answered on the sidelines of a United Nations meeting. He then called for expanding the development lender’s mission to explicitly include public goods such as climate change.

Last week, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen deepened her call for changes to the World Bank, urging it to more aggressively extend its balance sheet and to work harder at mobilizing private-sector money to help address global challenges like climate change and pandemics.

The World Bank Group “is fundamentally strong, financially sustainable, and well positioned to increase its development impact in the face of urgent global crises,” Malpass said in the statement.