James Wolfensohn

President,
World Bank Group

James D. Wolfensohn, the World Bank Group’s ninth President since 1946, established his career as an international investment banker with a parallel involvement in development issues and the global environment. Mr. Wolfensohn began his second five year term as President beginning June 2000, making him the third President in World Bank history to serve a second term. Since becoming President on June 1, 1995, he has traveled to more than 100 countries to gain first-hand experience of the challenges facing the World Bank and its 184 member countries. During his travels, he has taken the initiative in forming new strategic partnerships between the Bank and the governments it serves, the private sector, civil society, regional development banks, and the UN. In 1996, together with the International Monetary Fund, Mr. Wolfensohn initiated the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative (HIPC) as the first comprehensive debt reduction program to address the needs of the world’s poorest, most heavily indebted countries. In January 1999, Mr. Wolfensohn introduced the Comprehensive Development Framework (CDF), drawing on lessons of development experience and putting into action the key concepts laid out in his Annual Meetings speeches of 1997 and 1998. Nearly 50 low-income countries around the world are now using the CDF approach as the basis for their preparation of Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs). Mr. Wolfensohn has placed sustainable poverty reduction at the center of the Bank’s mission and has focused the institution’s work on supporting the international community’s efforts to reach the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. Prior to joining the Bank, Mr. Wolfensohn was an international investment banker. His last position was as President and Chief Executive Officer of James D. Wolfensohn Inc., his own investment firm set up in 1981 to advise major international and US corporations. Before setting up his own company, Mr. Wolfensohn held a series of senior positions in finance. He was Executive Partner of Salomon Brothers in New York and head of its investment-banking department. He was Executive Deputy Chairman and Managing Director of Schroeder’s Ltd in London, President of J. Henry Schroeder’s Banking Corporation in New York, and Managing Director of Darling & Co of Australia. Throughout his career, Mr. Wolfensohn has also closely involved himself in a wide range of cultural and volunteer activities, especially in the performing arts. In 1970, Mr. Wolfensohn became involved in New York’s Carnegie Hall, first as a board member and later, from 1980 to 1991, as Chairman of the board, and he is now Chairman Emeritus of Carnegie Hall. In 1990, Mr. Wolfensohn became Chairman of the board of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC. On January 1, 1996, he was elected Chairman Emeritus. Mr. Wolfensohn has been President of the International Federation of Multiple Sclerosis Societies and Director of the Business Council for Sustainable Development. He has served as Chairman of the Finance Committee and as Director of the Rockefeller Foundation, and Director of the Population Council, and as member of the board of Rockefeller University. Currently, in addition to serving as President of the World Bank Group, he is Chairman of the board of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton. Mr. Wolfensohn is also an Honorary Trustee of the Brookings Institution and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Century Association in New York. Born in Australia in December 1933, Mr. Wolfensohn is a naturalized US citizen. He holds a BA and an LLB from the University of Sydney and an MBA from the Harvard Graduate School of Business. Before attending Harvard, he was a lawyer in the Australian law firm of Allen Allen & Hemsley. Mr. Wolfensohn served as an Officer in the Royal Australian Air Force, and was a member of the 1956 Australian Olympic Fencing Team. Mr. Wolfensohn is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a Fellow of the American Philosophical Society. He has been the recipient of many awards for his volunteer work, including the first David Rockefeller Prize of the Museum of Modern Art in New York for his work for culture and the arts. In May 1995, he was awarded an Honorary Knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II for his contribution to the arts. The Governments of Australia, France, Germany, Morocco, and Norway have also decorated Mr. Wolfensohn.