Ajay Banga was last month nominated by US President Joe Biden to head the World Bank
Nairobi (AFP) - The United States’ candidate to head the World Bank, Ajay Banga, on Wednesday called for a revamp of the development model to better meet the challenge of climate change.
Banga, who is on trip to Kenya, said the world cannot continue to “pursue the prior model of (an) emission heavy growth system,” and rallied for adaptation.
“We cannot afford it, our children cannot afford it,” he told reporters in Nairobi.
The 63-year-old Indian American was last month nominated by US President Joe Biden to head the global lender after its current chief David Malpass announced plans to step down early.
The nomination comes amid a push for development lenders to revamp and address global problems like environmental issues more effectively.
Banga is currently serving as vice chairman at equity firm General Atlantic and was previously chief executive at Mastercard.
Malpass had been accused by former US vice president Al Gore of being a climate skeptic and of not having being able to strengthen the financing of climate projects in developing nations.
Faced with global warming, “we must do more on adaptation,” Banga said, urging partnerships with the private sector.
The World Bank last month began accepting candidate nominations in a process set to run until March 29, with the bank saying that women contenders would be “strongly” encouraged.
- ‘Champion of equality’ -
Banga, a Sikh who was born and raised in India, is so far the only declared candidate and has received the support of several countries including India, Kenya and Ghana.
“I am not a woman but I do bring a lot of diversity.”
“I am a champion of equality not just of gender, of ethnicity, of sexual orientation, of where you grew up, I don’t care about all that, what I care about is what you do, and I am an example of that myself,” he added.
Kenya is Banga’s second stop on a global tour after Ivory Coast.
He is planning to meet officials in Europe and parts of Asia including China, India and Japan, as well as Latin America in the coming weeks.
The US nominee has drawn criticism over his corporate background and gender.
“We don’t need another World Bank president who will further corporate interests like fossil fuel and industrial agriculture,” Friends of the Earth said last month.
The president of the World Bank is typically American, while the leader of the International Monetary Fund is customarily European.
The United States is the World Bank’s largest shareholder.
Last month, Malpass said he would step down nearly a year early, ending a tenure that has been clouded by questions over his climate stance.