Robert Zoellick at the Bretton Woods Committee annual meeting. Zoellick and Bretton Woods Project coordinator Peter Chowla shared their thoughts on the World Bank and its new president. Photo by: / CC BY-NC-ND

While Jim Yong Kim may be short on words regarding his plans for the World Bank, two people are not shy to voice their thoughts on the bank and its work — from energy efficiency and gender equality to Kim’s leadership.

Robert Zoellick, Kim’s predecessor, has raised the difficulty of promoting energy efficiency in an interview with Think Africa Press. Zoellick said the bank has emphasized the importance of addressing climate change in tackling poverty but in Nigeria and Egypt, for example, it is “politically very difficult” to remove subsidies on fuels and gasoline.

The world needs more off-grid renewables and the bank could help speed up their development, Peter Chowla of Bretton Woods Project argued. But Chowla said the bank is leaning toward “giant mega projects” that benefit the industry rather than the poor and rural people.

Chowla also dismissed the bank’s emphasis on “smart economics” to promote gender equality.

“It may be smart economics, but frankly I don’t care if it’s not smart economics, we should be doing it anyway — it’s a human rights issue,” he said.

Chowla, however, has expressed optimism reforms at the bank are possible under Kim’s leadership. The world is “probably more likely to see real reform under Doctor Kim,” he said.

For Zoellick, meanwhile, Kim’s scientific skills would serve him “very well” in his work at the bank. Apart from his “high intelligence” and accomplishments, Kim has done some “tremendous things on the medical side” for the poor, Zoellick added.

Read more development aid news online, and subscribe to The Development Newswire to receive top international development headlines from the world’s leading donors, news sources and opinion leaders — emailed to you FREE every business day.

About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.