A coalition of 55 leading academics, economists, including three Nobel laureates, have endorsed the nomination of Indian-American Ajay Banga as the next President of the World Bank, describing him as the right person to lead the international financial institution as a “force multiplier” at a critical moment for the world economy.
Banga, 63, was nominated by US President Joe Biden as the next President of the World Bank last month.
In an open endorsement letter published on Thursday, 55 advocates, academics, executives, luminaries, and former government officials supported the business leader’s nomination to the post of President of the World Bank, indicating that the former MasterCard CEO’s candidacy is gaining ground.
The four Nobel laureates to endorse Banga are Dr Joseph Stiglitz, recipient of the 2001 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences; Dr Michael Spence, recipient of the 2001 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences and Professor Muhammad Yunus, recipient of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize.
“A truly global citizen, Ajay has extensive experience living and working in developing economies. Importantly, as a leader with a deep appreciation for the global south, he intuitively understands that economic growth can only be sustained if people and nature thrive together, not apart,” the letter said.
It added that Banga understands the World Bank must serve as a force multiplier by setting the correct agenda and then catalysing action across governments, the private sector, multilateral development banks, civil society, and philanthropies.
“Banga possesses a rare combination of leadership; track record of building successful alliances across the public, private, and social sectors; and experience working in developing countries for tackling some of the most critical challenges facing our world,” the endorsement letter added.
“He is the right person to lead the World Bank at this critical moment,” the open letter from the world leaders of diverse backgrounds said. “Ajay built a regenerative agriculture partnership in Latin America to help farmers shift their practices toward long-term sustainability in a region at high-risk for climate disaster,” the letter said, adding that the business leader also shaped a crop insurance programme with the World Food Bank and a coalition of private and social sector partners, to insure two million farmers against the risks of climate disaster. As an advisor to General Atlantic’s climate-focused fund, BeyondNetZero, Banga played a key role in promoting investments in companies leading EV charging and solar power solutions for off-grid populations in Africa and India.
“While at Mastercard, many of us saw first-hand how Ajay advanced financial inclusion and expanded access to the digital economy globally and especially in Africa.” the letter said, adding that by working with governments and civil society, Banga committed to bringing 500 million previously unbanked into the digital economy.
“Included in this has been a commitment to bringing more women into the global economy-recognising that women play an essential role in sustainable development solutions,” the letter of support said.
Banga is currently on a global listening tour with visits to Cote d’Ivoire and Kenya. Both countries have endorsed his candidacy for World Bank President.
He will head to Europe for meetings in London and Brussels, including a climate-focused roundtable.
On a listening tour in London on March 9 and 10, Banga met senior government officials and civil society leaders in a meeting focused on development. He also convened leaders from the financial sector for a roundtable discussion focused on expanding climate finance.
Banga will meet with senior government officials from a cross-section of European Union member states in Brussels, Belgium March 13 and 14. The conversations will focus on how the Bank can best meet its core development goals while addressing global challenges like climate change, pandemics, and fragility.