BENGALURU, India — The Biden administration is nearing a decision on who it will nominate as the next president of the World Bank, a choice that is likely to drastically reshape the global development institution and expand its ambitions to fight climate change.
The nomination will begin a month-long confirmation process before a final decision by the World Bank Board. It is unclear whether any other countries will nominate a candidate. The President of the World Bank is traditionally an American elected by the United States.
“We believe it is important that there be a transparent, merit-based and expeditious nomination process for the next president of the World Bank,” Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen said at a news conference ahead of a meeting of Group of 20 finance ministers in India on Thursday. “Please stay tuned.”
Speculation surrounding the nomination has gained momentum in the past week since David Malpass, the current president of the World Bank, announced his intention to resign until the end of June, with almost a year left in his five-year term. Mr. Malpass, handpicked by President Donald J. Trump, has drawn criticism from climate activists and sparked frustration among Biden administration officials over his lack of focus on the bank’s climate agenda.
Those concerns came to a head in September when Mr Malpass came under fire for his views on climate change. When asked if he accepted the prevailing scientific consensus that the burning of fossil fuels is causing global temperatures to rise, he declined. “I’m not a scientist,” he said. The exchange, during a live interview at a New York Times event, set off a slow-motion public relations crisis for Mr. Malpass.
The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors met this week to begin the process of nominating a set criteria looking for its next leader. These qualities included proven leadership and achievements, particularly in development, and experience in managing large international organizations while also having knowledge of the public sector.
Among those mentioned as potential candidates are Rajiv Shah, president of the Rockefeller Foundation; Samantha Power, Administrator, United States Agency for International Development; Indra Nooyi, former CEO of PepsiCo and Nemat Shafik, known as Minouche, who was recently selected as the next president of Columbia University.
The board said it would “strongly encourage female candidates to be nominated”.
The bank has never had a woman as permanent president, although Kristalina Georgieva, who is currently the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, held the role in 2019.
Countries have until March 29 to propose additional candidates. The World Bank Board hopes to select a new president by May.
In her remarks Thursday, Ms. Yellen praised Mr. Malpass and described the qualities she would like to see in his successor.
“Someone who shares a commitment to the Bank’s long-term work to fight extreme poverty and promote prosperity, as well as engage in addressing global challenges such as preparing for future pandemics and addressing climate change,” she said.