Last year, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) management proposed a major financial restructuring that would increase the amount of bank capital available for investment. This proposal offers many benefits in and of itself. But it also creates an opening for additional and complementary changes in governance that would greatly strengthen the bank and would ensure all of the benefits of the restructuring are fully captured. The merger proposal represents a highly credible down payment by the ADB on a set of innovations that can greatly expand the institution’s ability to respond to the region’s needs and opportunities—and in the process, stimulate similar dynamics at other MDBs.
In this CGD Essay, Birdsall and Subramianian argue that the World Bank faces twin crises of relevance and legitimacy in a rapidly changing world. The solution, they argue, is for the bank to become a more active catalyst for generating global public goods and knowledge and a more reluctant lender to governments. The World Bank should move, in effect, from being a bank to being a global development cooperative. The essay suggests specific, practical steps for such reforms.
In this Essay, CGD president Nancy Birdsall describes the World Bank as a global club with a structure close to that of a credit union in which the members are nations. Its mission, as originally conceived–-to promote broadly shared and sustainable global prosperity--serves the common interests of all its country members. In light of this idea of the Bank as a global credit club, Birdsall addresses the issues that arise with respect to its current governance structure and how these issues affect the Bank's legitimacy, effectiveness and relevance in the global system.