David Malpass is elected President of the World Bank in 2019 on Donald Trump’s nomination. Because of several statements, the 66-year-old has the reputation of being a “climate denier”. A year before the end of his term of office, the resignation comes as a surprise.

World Bank President David Malpass surprisingly announced his resignation. The 66-year-old will leave the post at the end of June, just under a year before the end of his actual term of office, according to the Washington-based international financial institution. “After careful consideration, I have decided to pursue new challenges,” Malpass was quoted as saying in a statement.

The US economist became head of the World Bank in April 2019, having been nominated by then US President Donald Trump. His five-year term would actually have lasted until next year.

Malpass drew sharp criticism last year with statements about climate change, and there were also calls for his resignation. When asked at a conference whether the burning of fossil fuels by humans is leading to rapid and dangerous global warming, he replied with “I’m not a scientist”.

Federal Development Minister Svenja Schulze described the statements as “irritating”. Malpass later appealed for damage control and said he regretted his choice of words. Former US Vice President and climate protection activist Al Gore had described Malpass as a “climate denier”. The World Bank President was then asked to comment.

Malpass’ response provoked sharp criticism from environmentalists. The White House also criticized the World Bank boss. The World Bank must be a “world leader” in the fight against the climate crisis, said President Joe Biden’s spokeswoman, Karine Jean-Pierre.

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen thanked Malpass for his work at the helm of the World Bank and for wanting to ensure an orderly succession. She hopes for a “transparent, performance-based and rapid nomination process” for the successor. The US would propose a candidate to continue the World Bank’s work to end extreme poverty and promote shared prosperity.

The President of the World Bank, whose mission is to fight poverty worldwide, traditionally comes from the USA. The International Monetary Fund (IMF), also based in Washington, is traditionally headed by a European.