At the moment, the issue of US leadership at the multilateral development banks (MDBs) is focused squarely on the World Bank presidency. But there’s a lot more to it than that, and a lot more at risk for the United States in the years ahead. In a new paper for the Council on Foreign Relation, I examine the US role in the MDB system—why it matters for the United States itself, how China has emerged as a game changer, and how the United States is too often its own worst enemy when it comes to effective leadership.
US representatives in the MDBs are burdened by overly restrictive policy mandates from Congress. They have also been unable to make good on funding commitments to the MDBs, with a past due bill approaching $2 billion this year. And perhaps not surprisingly, US officials have been reluctant to express any new financing ambition when it comes to future growth of the MDBs.
All of these constraints stand in the way of strong leadership at a time when the institutions themselves are prepared to step up to a wide array of global challenges and at a time when they have emerging champions willing to take on a leadership role. Strengthening US leadership in the MDB system will require a new approach from the Congress and the next administration.
What will that look like? You’ll have to read the paper to find out.
CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors, drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD is a nonpartisan, independent organization and does not take institutional positions.