The Hardest Job in the World: Five Crucial Tasks for the New President of the World Bank

Devesh Kapur, co-chairs
July 19, 2005

This report was prepared by a Working Group convened by the Center for Global Development to identify key priorities to Paul Wolfowitz at the start of his tenure at the World Bank on June 1, 2005. It argues that Wolfowitz's biggest challenge will not be managing the Bank, with its 10,000 staff, but leading its shareholders, the nations of the world.

The report offers five bold but practical recommendations for restoring the legitimacy and increasing the effectiveness of the world's largest development institution.The five tasks are:

  • revitalizing the Bank's relevance for its big middle income and emerging market borrowers;
  • greater differentiation across the poorest countries in the nature of its operations;
  • creation of a grant fund for global public goods;
  • taking the lead on independent evaluation of all aid spending;
  • and reforming the governance of the Bank itself, including changes in the composition of the Bank's board and a more open selection process for future Bank presidents.

The Working Group Co-Chairs were Nancy Birdsall and Devesh Kapur. Birdsall, the founding president of the Center for Global Development, was Executive Vice President of the Inter- American Development Bank and worked for 15 years at the World Bank, where she was the head of the research department. Kapur is an associate professor of government at The University of Texas, Austin, and a co-editor of a landmark two-volume history of the World Bank, The World Bank: Its First Half Century (Brookings, 1997). The more than twenty members of the working group were drawn from the private sector, academia, and civil society in rich countries and the developing world, including former ministers of finance and foreign affairs, former U.S. Treasury officials, and former vice presidents of the World Bank.

Working Group Members

K.Y. Amoako
Owen Barder
Colin I. Bradford
Ariel Buira
Kenneth W. Dam
Robert E. Evenson
Jo Marie Griesgraber
José Angel Gurría
Pierre Jacquet
Edward V.K. (Kim) Jaycox
Michael Kremer
Steven Radelet
Jean-Michel Severino
Vito Tanzi
Daniel K. Tarullo
John Williamson
Ngaire Woods
Daniel M. Zelikow

Project Associate

Milan Vaishnav

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