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James D. Wolfensohn, President of the World Bank
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. On September 27, 1999, Mr. Wolfensohn was unanimously reappointed by the Bank's Board of Executive Directors to a second five-year term as president beginning June 1, 2000. This will make 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 183 member countries. During his travels, Mr. Wolfensohn has not only visited development projects supported by the World Bank, but he has also met with the Bank's government clients as well as with representatives from business, labor, media, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), religious and women's groups, students and teachers. In the process 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 (IMF), 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. Two years later, he led a global review of the HIPC Initiative, involving church groups, NGOs and representatives from creditor and HIPC countries, to assess its progress and identify ways to make the Initiative deeper, broader and faster. This review, and proposals by donor countries, culminated in September 1999 with an official endorsement at the World Bank/IMF Annual Meetings to double the amount of relief, make more countries eligible for assistance, and speed up the process.

In January 1999, Mr. Wolfensohn introduced the Comprehensive Development Framework (CDF), drawing on the lessons of development experience and putting into action the key concepts laid out in his Annual Meetings speeches of 1997 and 1998. Together with the Bank's partners, the CDF is now being piloted in 13 countries.

The CDF is meant to be a compass - not a blueprint. It is an approach that places the country front and center and focusing on building stronger partnerships to reduce poverty. It has been discussed with a wide variety of audiences including ministers and senior officials of both developed and developing countries, academics, civil society and the private sector, and other stakeholders. Also, a network of CDF focal points within multilateral, bilateral and UN agencies have been meeting regularly on various aspects of implementation.

The CDF is also meant to enhance the Strategic Compact, a major reform program in the Bank which Mr. Wolfensohn launched to improve the institution's effectiveness in fighting poverty, and to meet the needs of a rapidly changing global economy. A central feature of Mr. Wolfensohn's Strategic Compact is to incorporate key aspects of the information revolution into the Bank's work by transforming the institution into a Knowledge Bank.

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 US and international corporations. He relinquished his interests in the firm upon joining the World Bank.

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 Schroders Ltd in London, President of J. Henry Schroders Banking Corporation in New York, and Managing Director, 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, during which time he led its successful effort to restore the landmark New York building. He is now Chairman Emeritus of Carnegie Hall. In 1990, Mr. Wolfensohn became Chairman of the Board of Trustees 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, Director of the Business Council for Sustainable Development, and served both as Chairman of the Finance Committee and as Director of the Rockefeller Foundation and 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 University. 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 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. Mr. Wolfensohn has also been decorated by the Governments of Australia, France, Germany, Morocco, and Norway.

He and his wife, Elaine, an education specialist and a graduate of Wellesley, BA, and Columbia University, MA and MEd, have three children-Sara, Naomi, and Adam.

(china.org.cn May 30, 2002)

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