David Malpass led lender through crises including the war in Ukraine but faced criticism over stance on climate change.
World Bank chief David Malpass has announced he will step down in June, nearly a year before the end of his term.
Malpass, who was nominated to his five-year term by former United States President Donald Trump in 2019, said on Wednesday he had decided to pursue new challenges after having the “enormous honour and privilege” of leading the international lender.
“With developing countries facing unprecedented crises, I’m proud that the Bank Group has responded with speed, scale, innovation, and impact,” Malpass said in a statement posted on the lender’s website.
“The last four years have been some of the most meaningful of my career. Having made much progress, and after a good deal of thought, I’ve decided to pursue new challenges. I want to thank our staff and Boards of Directors for the privilege of working with them every day to strengthen the effectiveness of our operations in the most challenging of times.”
Malpass, a former chief economist of Bear Stearns who served in several Republican administrations, led the 189-nation agency during a series of crises including the COVID 19 pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The World Bank, which was founded in 1944 to fund development projects around the world, is traditionally led by an American, while fellow lender the International Monetary Fund is typically led by a European.
The former US secretary of the Treasury for international affairs, however, attracted criticism over his stance on climate change, with former US vice president Al Gore labelling him a climate denier and climate activists calling for his resignation.
After declining to say if he believed human-generated emissions were warming the planet at a conference in September, Malpass later acknowledged fossil fuels were generating greenhouse gas emissions and insisted he is not a climate change denier.
The World Bank said in a statement on Wednesday it had “responded quickly” to global crises, mobilising a record $440bn to address challenges including climate change.
US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen thanked Malpass for his service and said the US would soon nominate a replacement.
“The world has benefited from his strong support for Ukraine in the face of Russia’s illegal and unprovoked invasion, his vital work to assist the Afghan people, and his commitment to helping low-income countries achieve debt sustainability through debt reduction,” Yellen said in a statement.
“We will put forward a candidate to lead the World Bank and build on the Bank’s longstanding work… and who will carry forward the vital work we are undertaking to evolve the multilateral development banks.”