Devex Newswire: The World Bank meets team Biden

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The World Bank hosts its first big get-together since the institution’s largest shareholder traded Trump for Biden.

The World Bank and International Monetary Fund Spring Meetings kick into high gear this week. Here’s what we’re watching:

COVID-19: As of March 31, the World Bank had committed $1.6 billion in vaccine financing in 10 countries. The institution plans to deploy $12 billion for COVID-19 vaccination efforts. The bank recently found that only 30% of countries it surveyed have a plan for how they’re going to train the large number of vaccinators that will be needed. The bank will host a who’s who of health and development leaders on Friday to discuss the vaccination challenge.

Debt: World Bank President David Malpass has been outspoken about the debt crisis in low- and middle-income countries, which predated the pandemic, but has been exacerbated by it. The G-20 has set up two big debt relief initiatives, but these do not account for the full liquidity crunch — 23 countries fall through the crack between eligibility for debt support and access to cheap capital, Adva Saldinger reports.

Climate: As soon as Malpass became heir apparent to former World Bank chief Jim Kim, climate change was the elephant in the room. Would the former Trump official pursue climate leadership, or try to revitalize the coal industry? Two years into his term, Malpass’ green revolution seems to be underway. On Friday he announced a new plan to align the bank with the Paris Agreement by 2023. On Thursday he’ll share the virtual stage with U.S. climate envoy John Kerry.

ICYMI: Civil society to World Bank: Help us hold governments accountable in COVID-19 vaccine distribution

Inside the World Bank Spring Meetings: Join me and my colleagues on Friday for a Devex Pro Live event, where we’ll discuss the biggest takeaways from the meetings.


“I suggested we should have, essentially, a similar initiative, pulling from the democratic states, helping those communities around the world that, in fact, need help.”

— U.S. President Joe Biden

Biden recently told U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson that the world’s democracies should band together to create their own alternative to China’s sprawling Belt and Road Initiative.

Miguel Tamonan and Janadale Leene Coralde from the Devex Analytics team have this deep dive on financing from the New Development Bank. They tracked almost 300 procurement notices since 2016 to find out how the “BRICS” bank is investing.

Devex Pro: The New Development Bank: Few member countries, lots of project financing 


Citing a six month pause in programming due to COVID-19, the U.K. government quietly slashed funding for human rights and “the rules-based international system” in half — from $24.4 million to $11.7 million, Will Worley reports.


U.N. General Assembly President Volkan Bozkir set up a website to document the selection process for the next secretary-general. So far, the website only mentions one candidate: incumbent António Guterres.

Last week, 1 for 7 Billion, a global campaign to “find the best UN leader,” released a discussion paper calling for “further clarity” on “unsettled issues” related to the secretary-general selection process. In particular, the group wants to know if state backing is a requirement for nomination, and if candidates must be put forward by the country of which they are a national.

The decision by some world leaders to voice support for Guterres just after he announced he would seek a second term has dashed hopes for a transparent, competitive race, writes former senior Dutch diplomat Simone Filippini.

Opinion: Already, the UN secretary-general election is compromised


April 1 marked one year since the tireless Lisa Cornish began tracking COVID-19 funding. Since then, she has tracked $21.3 trillion in funding announcements, which you can explore in this interactive analysis.

From Lisa’s latest update: “Funding is increasingly focused on overcoming bottlenecks associated with vaccine manufacturing and distribution.” Explore where COVID-19 funding is going.


Multiple disasters caused by torrential rains in eastern Indonesia have killed at least 55 people and displaced thousands, according to the country’s disaster relief agency. [Reuters]

Kenya has canceled the private importation and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, citing the need to safeguard against fake doses and to ensure “greater transparency.” [New York Times]

India recorded a record 103,558 new COVID-19 cases Monday, becoming the only country besides the U.S. to register more than 100,000 new cases in a day. [Al Jazeera]

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About the author

  • Michael Igoe

    Michael Igoe is a Senior Reporter with Devex, based in Washington, D.C. He covers U.S. foreign aid, global health, climate change, and development finance. Prior to joining Devex, Michael researched water management and climate change adaptation in post-Soviet Central Asia, where he also wrote for EurasiaNet. Michael earned his bachelor's degree from Bowdoin College, where he majored in Russian, and his master’s degree from the University of Montana, where he studied international conservation and development.