World Bank President David Malpass
According to the bank’s 2021 annual report, Malpass earned $525,000 in net salary that year. Image Credit: AFP

Washington: The World Bank earlier this week said it expects to select a new president by early May to replace David Malpass, who announced his resignation last week, leaving open a job that oversees billions of dollars of funding and has a direct impact on poverty, climate change preparation, emergency aid and other issues in developing countries around the globe.

The bank has historically been headed by someone from the US, its largest shareholder, while a European heads the International Monetary Fund (IMF), but developing countries and emerging markets are pushing to widen those choices.

The bank’s board said nominations would be accepted from February 23 to March 29. It said countries were encouraged to nominate women candidates. The bank has never had a permanent woman president in its 77-year history, although current IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva served as acting president for about two months in early 2019.

The board laid out criteria for candidates, including work in development, experience managing large organisations with international exposure, a firm commitment to multilateral cooperation, and the ability to articulate a clear vision for the institution as it embarks on a series of major reforms.

According to the bank’s 2021 annual report, Malpass earned $525,000 in net salary that year, and the bank made more than $340,000 in annual contributions to a pension plan and other benefits. After early April, Malpass’ contract entitles him to a pension equivalent to 70 per cent of his salary.

Here are names being floated by US officials, climate change experts, and global development peers as possible candidates for the job:

Rajiv Shah: Shah was the US Agency for International Development (USAID) administrator under former President Barack Obama and is current president of the Rockefeller Foundation, a philanthropic group that says it aims to “promote the well-being of humanity throughout the world”. The foundation recently partnered with the US State Department on a carbon offset programme at COP27, the international climate conference.

Ajay Banga: Indian-American Banga, vice chair of General Atlantic, a US growth equity firm, retired in December 2021 after 12 years at the helm of Mastercard, where he set a target of bringing one billion people and 50 million micro- and small businesses into the digital economy by 2025. He also serves as co-chair of the Partnership for Central America, where he worked closely with US Vice President Kamala Harris to mobilise public, private and non-profit resources for Northern Central America.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala: The current head of the World Trade Organisation and former World Bank official has been discussed as a potential successor to Malpass. The dual US and Nigerian citizen served twice as Nigeria’s finance minister and had been a managing director at the World Bank, overseeing an $81 billion operational portfolio in Africa, South Asia, Europe and Central Asia.

Samantha Power: Power, who currently leads the USAID, is a long-time human rights advocate, diplomat and former journalist. She served as US ambassador to the UN under Obama and won a Pulitzer Prize for her 2002 book, “A Problem from Hell,” a study of the US failure to prevent a number of genocides over the past century.

Indra Nooyi: Indian-American Nooyi, who served as CEO of PepsiCo from 2006 to 2018, has been an advocate for the role of business in tackling climate change. Under her tenure at PepsiCo, she created Performance with Purpose, a strategic initiative that tied revenue goals to societal good. Some have called that programme a precursor to current Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) metrics used by many companies. She currently serves as a member of the Earthshot Prize Council, a 50-million-pound award for technologies and solutions that tackle major environmental problems.

Gayle Smith: A former administrator of USAID in the Obama administration, Smith currently serves as CEO of the One Campaign, an NGO focused on ending extreme poverty and preventable disease. She had served under Democratic President Bill Clinton as the special assistant to the president and senior director for African Affairs at the National Security Council.