BENGALURU, India — The Biden administration is nearing a decision on who it will nominate to be the next president of the World Bank, a selection that is likely to drastically reshape the global development institution and broaden its ambitions to combat climate change.
The nomination will initiate a monthslong confirmation process before a final decision by the World Bank’s board. It is not clear if any other countries will nominate a candidate. The World Bank president is traditionally an American chosen by the United States.
“We believe it’s important that there be a transparent, merit-based and swift nomination process for the next World Bank president,” Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen said at a news conference before a gathering of finance ministers from the Group of 20 nations in India on Thursday. “Please stay tuned.”
Speculation surrounding the nomination has gathered momentum in the last week since David Malpass, the current World Bank president, announced his intention to step down by the end of June, with nearly a year left in his five-year term. Mr. Malpass, who was picked by President Donald J. Trump, drew criticism from climate activists and stirred frustration among Biden administration officials for his lack of focus on the bank’s climate agenda.
Those concerns came to a head in September, when Mr. Malpass came under fire for his views on climate change. When asked if he accepted the overwhelming scientific consensus that the burning of fossil fuels was causing global temperatures to rise, he demurred. “I’m not a scientist,” he said. The exchange, during a live interview at a New York Times event, set off a slow-motion public relations crisis for Mr. Malpass.
The World Bank’s board of executive directors met this week to open up the nomination process and lay out the criteria it is looking for in its next leader. Those qualities included a proven track record of leadership and accomplishment, particularly in development, and experience managing large international organizations while being familiar with the public sector.
Among those who have been mentioned as potential nominees are Rajiv Shah, the president of the Rockefeller Foundation; Samantha Power, the administrator of the United States Agency for International Development; Indra Nooyi, the former chief executive of PepsiCo and Nemat Shafik, known as Minouche, who was recently chosen to be the next president of Columbia University.
The board of executive directors said that it “would strongly encourage women candidates to be nominated.”
The bank has never had a woman serve as its permanent president, although Kristalina Georgieva, who is currently the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, held the role in an acting capacity in 2019.
Countries have until March 29 to put forward other nominees. The World Bank’s board hopes to select a new president by May.
In her remarks on Thursday, Ms. Yellen offered praise for Mr. Malpass and described the qualities that she would like to see in his successor.
“Someone who shares a commitment to the bank’s long standing work to fight extreme poverty and promote prosperity and will also undertake addressing global challenges like preparing for future pandemics and addressing climate change,” she said.
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