Jim Yong Kim, the president of the World Bank, abruptly announced that he will be leaving his post on February 1, more than three years ahead of the end of his term as the development lender grapples with turbulence in emerging markets and U.S. doubts about the usefulness of multilateral institutions.
“It has been a great honor to serve as President of this remarkable institution, full of passionate individuals dedicated to the mission of ending extreme poverty in our lifetime,” Kim said in a statement on Monday.
“The work of the World Bank Group is more important now than ever as the aspirations of the poor rise all over the world, and problems like climate change, pandemics, famine and refugees continue to grow in both their scale and complexity,” he added.
Kim has been at the helm of the World Bank since 2012, and was re-elected for a second five-year term that began in 2017.
Kristalina Georgieva, the lender’s second in command, will take over as interim president on Feb. 1, the Washington-based bank said Monday in a statement. In an email to employees of the bank, Kim said he’ll join a private firm focused on infrastructure investments in developing countries.
“The opportunity to join the private sector was unexpected, but I’ve concluded that this is the path through which I will be able to make the largest impact on major global issues like climate change and the infrastructure deficit in emerging markets,” Kim said.
Kim began his second five-year term at the bank on July 1, 2017, after convincing the lender’s board of directors to reappoint him.
In the past year, the Trump administration has put pressure on the World Bank to justify its lending practices, including loans to China. But in April, the lender won support from its member countries for a $13 billion capital increase, after the U.S. dropped its objections, Bloomberg notes.
As a reminder, the U.S. is the largest shareholder in the development lender, which was conceived during the Second World War to finance the reconstruction of Europe but has since focused on alleviating extreme poverty around the world.