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Opinion: 5 priorities for the World Bank's new leader (Devex)

April 8, 2019

From the article:

Despite critical commentary about his professional credentials and commitment to the multilateral system, David Malpass has been elected unopposed as the next president of the World Bank. Complaints about the outdated gentlemen’s agreement that led to this appointment will soon be overshadowed by Malpass’ initial signals on where he wants to lead this still globally important development institution.

During his campaign, Malpass said some of the right things but was silent on other priorities for the World Bank. To win the support of all his 189 members, Malpass must now unambiguously endorse the bank’s role in helping the world meet five challenges.

First, he must prioritize support for Africa’s development and integration into the world economy. The central development challenge for the next two decades is to help Africa deal with its demographic, environmental, and developmental challenges. The success or failure of this endeavor will determine the future of the 2.5 billion people who will inhabit the continent by 2050 — with major spillovers for every other region.

The World Bank is already the largest multilateral financier of Africa’s development, but it can play an even stronger role to facilitate a more coherent approach by Africa’s other large development partners — including the European Union and China.

Second, he must help middle-income countries make the right development choices. Emerging markets and middle-income countries will increasingly drive global growth. Their new infrastructure’s sustainability will define how livable our planet will be for the next century. Their economic success will provide expanded markets for global exports and jobs around the globe. And they are home to women, minorities, and other vulnerable groups who struggle with basic numeracy and literacy, lack human security, and live in fear of slipping back into absolute poverty. It would be a missed opportunity of historic proportions for the World Bank to watch these developments from the sidelines.


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