Updated Feb 15, 2023 - World

David Malpass will step down as World Bank head

World Bank president David Malpass speaks at a press conference last year. Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

World Bank President David Malpass said Wednesday that he will resign as head of the influential lender before the end of his term.

Why it matters: Malpass' exit, expected by the end of June, comes months after calls grew from him to step down after he declined to acknowledge the scientific consensus that fossil fuels were warming the planet.

  • Malpass, a holdover from the Trump administration who led the World Bank since 2019, in a statement did not fully explain the reasoning for the early departure, saying he would "pursue new challenges."
  • He had apologized for his controversial remarks.

Context: Officials, including Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, have called on the institution to do more to combat climate change, as well as pandemics and conflict.

  • Axios previously reported Biden officials last fall considered trying to oust Malpass over concerns that he was weak on climate after he failed to respond when asked if climate change was caused by humans.

What they're saying: Yellen thanked Malpass for his service and said, "While we all must continue to raise our collective ambitions in the fight against climate change, during President Malpass’ tenure the World Bank has made important recent advances in this area."

  • "The world has benefitted 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," she added.

What's next: The departure allows the Biden administration to install a new head of the World Bank.

  • The U.S. traditionally gets to pick the president of the World Bank, which is a five-year post, while the European Union selects the head of the International Monetary Fund.

Editor's note: This story was updated with additional background and reporting. Axios' Sareen Habeshian contributed to this report.

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