Biden nominates Ajay Banga as World Bank president

March 1, 2023|Written by |World Bank

US president Joe Biden has nominated former Mastercard executive Ajay Banga as president of the World Bank. In doing so, the White House has made clear it expects Banga to elevate climate issues at the global development institution.

Banga is the former president and chief executive officer of Mastercard, and is currently the vice chairman at General Atlantic, a private equity firm. He became a US citizen in 2007 after being born and educated in India.

In announcing the nomination, Biden said:“Ajay Banga will be a transformative World Bank president as the institution works to deliver on its core development goals and address pressing global challenges, including climate change.”

Similarly, US climate envoy John Kerry called Banga “the right choice to take on the responsibilities of @WorldBank at this critical moment [as] the climate crisis requires new thinking and creative vision regarding finance”.

Although the World Bank has pledged that 35% of its funding will be directed to projects with “climate co-benefits”, Banga is expected to do more to increase that figure and otherwise expand the World Bank’s climate efforts.

By custom, the president of the World Bank is an American, nominated by the US. The final decision on whether Banga gets the job will be made by the World Bank’s executive directors.

The response from the US climate movement was mixed. Former vice president and climate advocate Al Gore wrote on Twitter that Banga’s colleagues “know that he is an exemplary leader and I am extremely optimistic that he will bring renewed leadership on the climate crisis to the World Bank”. Sonia Dunlop of climate thinktank E3G said in a statement: “Banga will be a fresh pair of hands at the wheel of what we hope will be a greener, bigger, transformational and reformed World Bank capable of leading a global response to global challenges.”

But some left-leaning groups criticised the appointment. Collin Rees of Oil Change International called the appointment “disappointing” and that “Banga’s long career at predatory banks and corporations does not inspire confidence that he would transform the World Bank into an institution that can work for people and the planet”.

Jeff Hauser of the Revolving Door Project said that “nothing in Banga’s resume inspires confidence that he will turn the World Bank away from a path of neocolonialism and predation by global north corporations upon global south countries”.

The presidential position became available after David Malpass announced his resignation from the position as of 30 June. Malpass had come under fire for questioning whether fossil fuels were driving climate change.

The World Bank was established in 1944 to help provide infrastructure funding following the second world war. Today, it largely provides investment capital for lower to middle-income nations.

This page was last updated March 1, 2023

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