World Bank President Robert Zoellick announces plans to step down

World Bank President Robert Zoellick. Photo by: Sebastian Derungs / World Economic Forum / CC BY-SA

World Bank President Robert Zoellick has made it official: He will not seek a second term and will step down when his tenure ends on June 30.

Zoellick, who assumed his current post in 2007 after stints with the Goldman Sachs Group and the U.S. State Department, informed the World Bank board of his decision Wednesday (Feb. 15).

“Together we have focused on supporting developing countries to navigate crises and adjust to global economic shifts,” Zoellick said in an email to colleagues. “The bank is now strong, healthy and well positioned for new challenges, and so it is a natural time for me to move on and support new leadership.”

Throughout his tenure, Zoellick has led efforts to increase the bank’s capital and shift voting powers among member states in favor of developing countries. He has helped open up vast amounts of data to the public in a move to position the bank as a leading knowledge and best practices portal for other members of the global community.

>> World Bank data now accessible to all

>> Developing nations gain bigger voice in World Bank

It is still unclear who will succeed Zoellick, but among the possible candidates that have been floated recently are U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Lawrence Summers, U.S. President Barack Obama’s former national economic council director. So far, all World Bank chiefs have hailed from the United States, a tradition that has come under fire lately as developing country members gained influence on the bank’s board and within the organization overall.

The World Bank board is set to to start a process to select the next head of the multilateral lender based on rules it adopted in April 2011. The board, however, has yet to draft a timeline for the selection process.

Already, a number of development groups are appealing for an “open, merit-based, transparent” process that puts developing countries in a central role. In an open letter to World Bank governors, these aid groups urged for a public application procedure, public interviews, open voting procedures and a clear job description for the position. The next World Bank president should be supported by majority of the bank’s member states, the groups said.

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About the author

  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.