Today, Representative John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) and 26 other Members of Congress sent a letter to President Obama encouraging him to nominate Professor Jeffrey Sachs as the United States' candidate for the World Bank presidency. Member nations of the World Bank have until March 23 to nominate candidates for the position. Current World Bank President, Robert Zoellick, has announced that he will step down from his post in June.
Professor Sachs is the Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and also serves as Special Advisor to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Professor Sachs' candidacy has been endorsed by President Ahmad Mohamed Ali of the Islamic Development Bank and the governments of Kenya, Timor Leste, Malaysia, Bhutan, Namibia, Jordan, and Haiti.
"In recent years, the World Bank has often been headed by career politician or a Wall Street banker, who has often lacked significant experience or expertise in international development policy," they wrote. "As a result, it has often fallen short in its efforts to build sustainable economies and healthy communities for the people of the developing world. In contrast, Professor Sachs is a development professional and a problem solver -- someone who has seen the destabilizing effects of poverty, famine, and resource scarcity first hand, and who has mobilized people and resources to do something about it. Under his leadership, the World Bank would be an entity that brings together the public sector, private enterprise, and civil society to forge creative solutions to these complex challenges."
The letter was also signed by Representatives Hansen Clarke (D-MI), Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), James McGovern (D-MA), Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Keith Ellison (D-MN), Robert Brady (D-PA), Rubén Hinojosa (D-TX), Peter Defazio (D-OR), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Maxine Waters (D-CA), Bob Filner (D-CA), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Andre Carson (D-IN), Chaka Fattah (D-PA), Rush Holt (D-NJ), Charles Rangel (D-NY), Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Donna Edwards (D-MD), Jim McDermott (D-WA), Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), and Hank Johnson (D-GA).
The text of the letter follows below.
March 15, 2012
The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear Mr. President,
When the member nations of the World Bank meet this spring to select the organization's next President, we strongly encourage you to nominate Professor Jeffrey Sachs, the Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and Special Advisor to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, as the United States' candidate. We believe that Professor Sachs has the experience, expertise, and bold vision for the future needed to lead the World Bank at this critical moment in history.
Professor Sachs is widely considered to be the world's leading expert on economic development and the fight against poverty. For over 25 years, he has advised dozens of governments throughout the developing world on economic development, environmental sustainability, poverty alleviation, debt cancellation, and globalization. He has twice been named among Time Magazine's 100 most influential world leaders. He was described by the New York Times as "probably the most important economist in the world," and by Time Magazine as "the world's best known economist." A recent survey by The Economist Magazine ranked Professor Sachs as among the world's three most influential living economists of the past decade.
Professor Sachs' work has been pivotal in many of the key junctures of globalization during the past thirty years. In the 1980s he helped several Latin American countries including Bolivia, Brazil, and Peru to end hyperinflations and renegotiate their external debts. In 1989, Professor Sachs advised Poland's anti-communist Solidarity movement and the first post-communist Government of Prime Minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki, and wrote the first-ever comprehensive plan for the transition from central planning to a market democracy. Sachs's ideas and methods of transition from central planning were successfully adopted throughout the transition economies. From the mid-1990s till today, Professor Sachs has been involved with economic reforms in many parts of Asia, including India and China, and he works with governments in the Middle East including Jordan and Qatar on poverty reduction, education, and ICT initiatives.
Professor Sachs has amassed an impressive track record of accomplishment over the years, including helping launch the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, the President's Malaria Initiative, the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP), and the Millennium Villages Project, which operates in more than one dozen African countries covering 500,000 people, and has pioneered a strategy of integrated rural development for poverty alleviation. He also played a critical role in bringing Members of Congress together on a bipartisan basis to pass the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and the U.S. Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Act of 2003, which established the highly successful President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).
In recent years, the World Bank has often been headed by career politician or a Wall Street banker, who has often lacked significant experience or expertise in international development policy. As a result, it has often fallen short in its efforts to build sustainable economies and healthy communities for the people of the developing world. In contrast, Professor Sachs is a development professional and a problem solver -- someone who has seen the destabilizing effects of poverty, famine, and resource scarcity first hand, and who has mobilized people and resources to do something about it. Under his leadership, the World Bank would be an entity that brings together the public sector, private enterprise, and civil society to forge creative solutions to these complex challenges.
As Professor Sachs recently noted "The world is at a crossroads. Either the global community will join together to fight poverty, resource depletion, and climate change, or it will face a generation of resource wars, political instability, and environmental ruin." If the world community is serious about addressing these challenges, it is clear that the World Bank's next president should be an accomplished professional who is ready to tackle these great challenges from day one. We can think of no better person to play this critically important role than Professor Sachs and we hope that you will nominate him as the next President of this important international economic development organization.