World Bank Group (WBG) President Jim Yong Kim unexpectedly announced on Monday that he will be stepping down from his position on Feb 1, more than three years before his second term ends in 2022.
"Serving as president of WBG has been a great privilege," Kim said. "The work of the WBG 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."
Kim told World Bank employees in an email that he was leaving the world's largest lender to join a private-sector firm focused on infrastructure investments in the developing world.
"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 first became the 12th president of the WBG on July 1, 2012. He was appointed to a second five-year term as president of the multilateral development bank in 2016.
Kristalina Georgieva, who in 2017 became the World Bank's chief executive officer, will assume the role of interim president when Kim departs.
Georgieva, a Bulgarian national, had previously held senior European Union posts after serving 15 years at the World Bank, starting as an environmental economist in 1993.