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Press release: 15.03.2019

Civil Society Call on World Bank Executive Directors to Prioritise Climate Commitments under new Presidency

Today, civil society groups from the Global North and South called on the World Bank’s board to prioritise the Bank’s role in combating climate change in the selection of the next World Bank Group President.

The open letter, signed by more than 30 civil society organisations from around the world, calls on the Executive Directors to ensure that the next President of the Bank is committed to fully aligning the World Bank with the Paris Agreement as a core priority of their presidency.

Civil society groups expect that any candidate for the position should publicly pledge to fully implement previous climate commitments - and that if the candidate is not able to publicly articulate a vision of the Bank as climate champion, they should be considered a viable candidate for the position.

Civil society members of the Big Shift Global coalition, released the following statements:

“Despite some encouraging first steps, the World Bank’s alignment with the Paris Agreement will require a significant transformation of the way the Bank does business in countries around the world” said Jon Sward, Environment Project Manager at the UK-based Bretton Woods Project. “The five-year term of the incoming World Bank President will coincide with a critical time for global climate action. In order to fulfil the Bank’s wider development mission, the new President will need to make fighting climate change a core priority.”   

“The world is facing a climate emergency and it is critical during the next few years that the World Bank remains committed to climate action”. said Helena Wright, Senior Policy Advisor, E3G. She added: “All public banks must take urgent action if we are to meet the Paris Climate Agreement goals”.

Climate change is the biggest threat to any development. As one of the world’s leading development institutions, the World Bank Group needs to appoint a President who understands the existential threat climate change poses to Bank’s mission to end poverty and as such the new President needs to publicly articulate their vision for how the Bank will use its vast technical resources to lead in the global effort to combat climate change” said Nezir Sinani, Co-Director at Bank Information Center Europe.


  • The open letter to the World Bank Group Board of Directors can be found here.
  • In January 2019, President Jim Yong Kim announced he was stepping down as the World Bank’s President.
  • March 14th 2019 was the World Bank's deadline for nominations for Kim’s replacement, as the board looks to have a new president announced in time for April's Spring Meetings (9-14th April 2019).
  • David Malpass, a U.S. national and Under Secretary for International Affairs, U.S. Department of the Treasury was the sole candidate nominated by 14th March 2019.
  • World Bank’s own research has found that 100 million people could be forced into poverty by 2030 due to climate change impacts.
  • The Big Shift Global coalition is a multi-stakeholder, global campaign coordinated by over 40 organisations from the Global North and South. Together, we aim to make the people’s views on energy finance known to Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs), their Executive Directors, as well as the Heads of State and Finance Ministers of the members countries. Leveraging public opinion is crucial to aligning decisions made by the MDBs with long-term climate safety and poverty goals – this inevitably involves a shift away from financing any form of fossil fuels to financing clean, sustainable, renewable energy for all.