Smart Economy


WB wins $11b in pledges to boost lending for climate, global crises

 Published: 14:28, 21 April 2024

WB wins $11b in pledges to boost lending for climate, global crises

The World Bank has said that 11 countries have pledged to contribute over $11 billion to new hybrid capital and portfolio guarantee instruments designed to expand the bank's financing capacity by $70 billion over a decade to tackle climate change, pandemics and other global challenges.

The voluntary contributions, announced at World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) spring meetings in Washington, form the largest single enhancement to the World Bank's balance sheet since the United States and other shareholders expanded its mission beyond fighting poverty in 2022.

In April 2023, World Bank shareholders endorsed an increase in the bank's leverage ratio to boost lending capacity by some $40 billion over 10 years and expanded bilateral guarantees to unlock another $10 billion in financing.

The bulk of the latest funding pledge, around $9 billion, was made by the US to the new Portfolio Guarantee Platform which backs private loans and equity investments in qualifying projects.

But Washington's contribution will not be all cash. It will come partly as a US guarantee for the World Bank's platform, backed by a $750 million appropriation request to Congress, a US Treasury official said. This will limit the pledge's leverage to four times, enabling $36 billion of additional lending over a decade, the official added.

Japan said it is contributing $1 billion to the guarantee program, France is expected to contribute $500 million and Belgium an undisclosed amount.

Contributing to the mechanism for hybrid capital - an instrument that includes features of both debt and equity to leverage loans - are Britain, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Latvia, the Netherlands, and Norway. Britain said it is contributing 100 million pounds.

The World Bank's "reform will not stop here," she told reporters.

World Bank President Ajay Banga, who took office nearly a year ago, is working on a number of other initiatives to expand the World Bank's balance sheet, including harnessing callable capital - emergency funds pledged by shareholding governments but not paid in - that could unlock hundreds of billions of dollars in additional lending capacity.

The World Bank last week published a report showing that a capital call would be an "extremely remote" event. The bank has been at pains to convince rating agencies that lending against such capital should not affect its top-tier AAA rating, which allows it to borrow at cheap rates and pass the savings on to its client countries.