In a surprise announcement World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said today that he will be stepping down from his position after more than six years, just a little over a year into his second term.
“It has been a great honour to serve as President of this remarkable institution, full of passionate individuals dedicated to the mission of ending extreme poverty in our lifetime,” said Kim.
“The work of the World Bank Group is more important now than ever as the aspirations of the poor rise all over the world, and problems like climate change, pandemics, famine and refugees continue to grow in both their scale and complexity. Serving as President and helping position the institution squarely in the middle of all these challenges has been a great privilege,” he added.
To serve as interim president from 1 February is 65 year-old Kristalina Georgieva, the bank’s CEO. Georgieva, from Bulgaria was European Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources in the college of the Juncker Commission, until 2017.
Kim’s era was remarkable as the institution’s shareholders provided strong support to multiple initiatives to ensure that the Bank Group retains strong leadership in the world of global development.
Under Kim’s leadership, and with the backing of the Bank Group’s 189 member countries, the institution in 2012 established two goals: to end extreme poverty by 2030; and to boost shared prosperity, focusing on the bottom 40 percent of the population in developing countries. These goals now guide and inform the institution in its daily work around the globe.
In addition, shareholders strongly supported measures to ensure that the Bank Group be even better positioned to respond to the development needs of clients:
The Bank Group’s Fund for the Poorest, IDA, achieved two successive, record replenishments, which enabled the institution to increase its work in areas suffering from fragility, conflict, and violence.
In April 2018, the Bank Group’s Governors overwhelmingly approved a historic USD$13 billion capital increase for IBRD and IFC that will allow the Bank Group to support countries in reaching their development goals while responding to crises such as climate change, pandemics, fragility, and underinvestment in human capital around the world.
Over the past 6+ years, the institutions of the World Bank Group have provided financing at levels never seen outside of a financial crisis.
Recognizing the power of capital markets to transform development finance, the Bank Group during Kim’s tenure also launched several new innovative financial instruments, including facilities to address infrastructure needs, prevent pandemics, and help the millions of people forcibly displaced from their homes by climate shocks, conflict, and violence. The Bank is also working with the United Nations and leading technology companies to implement the Famine Action Mechanism, to detect warning signs earlier and prevent famines before they begin.
During his term, President Kim emphasised that one of the greatest needs in the developing world is infrastructure finance, and he pushed the Bank Group to maximise finance for development by working with a new cadre of private sector partners committed to building sustainable, climate-smart infrastructure in developing countries.
To that end, Kim has announced that, immediately after his departure, he will join a firm and focus on increasing infrastructure investments in developing countries. The details of this new position will be announced shortly.
In addition to working on infrastructure investments, Kim announced that he will also be re-joining the board of Partners In Health (PIH), an organization he co-founded more than 30 years ago.
“I look forward to working once again with my longtime friends and colleagues at PIH on a range of issues in global health and education. I will also continue my engagement with Brown University as a trustee of the Corporation and look forward to serving as a Senior Fellow at Brown’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs.”
Kim’s interim successor, Georgieva had been in the World Bank system before her appointment as the first CEO in 2017.
Born in Sofia, Georgieva holds a PhD in Economics and an MA in Political Economy and Sociology from the University of National and World Economy in Sofia, Bulgaria. She was also educated at various times at London School of Economics, Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
From 1993–2010, she served in a number of positions in the World Bank Group, eventually rising to become its vice president and corporate secretary in March 2008. She has also served as a member of the board of trustees and associated professor in the Economics Department of her alma mater, the University of National and World Economy in Bulgaria.
She once made a bid to become the UN Secretary General in 2016, but failed.