Axel van Trotsenburg (@AxelVT_WB) is the World Bank’s Senior Managing Director (SMD), responsible for Development Policy and Partnerships.
A Dutch-Austrian national, he directs the World Bank’s core development work captured by the Bank’s Global Practice groups – including equitable growth, finance and institutions; human development; infrastructure; and sustainable development – and ensures its integration into operations, with a special focus on climate change, fragility, human capital, and debt sustainability issues.
He currently co-leads the Evolution Roadmap aimed at increasing the scale and impact of the World Bank operations and systematically incorporating sustainability, resilience and inclusion into the Bank’s work on poverty reduction and boosting shared prosperity.
This reform effort seeks to solidify the World Bank’s critical role as the knowledge bank on development and expand its engagement on global challenges such as climate change, fragility and health, as well as to increase mobilization and facilitation of private capital together with the private sector arms of the World Bank Group.
He oversees the Bank’s numerous partnerships including with the UN, international financial institutions (IFIs), and bilateral partners. In addition, van Trotsenburg co-chairs the replenishment of the International Development Association (IDA) and represents the Bank in the G7 and G20 meetings. He leads the Bank’s climate engagement in the context of the annual COP convenings.
As SMD, he is focused on mobilizing knowledge, talent, partnerships and communications to enhance the Bank’s impact globally and in the client countries it serves.
Prior to this, van Trotsenburg was the Managing Director of Operations for 3.5 years, from October 2019 – April 2023 and oversaw Bank operations globally, with a footprint spanning more than 140 offices worldwide. He was responsible for delivery of the World Bank program which includes an active portfolio of more than $304 billion in loans, grants, credits, and trust funds and an annual lending and financial support program that averaged around $70 billion/year.
During his time as MDO, he oversaw the massive increase in financial assistance especially during the COVID19 crisis and other global crises including climate change, reaching about $225 billion. Most notably during that period, climate change financing doubled to $29 billion, health financing tripled to $9 billion, and fragility related financing tripled to $16 billion.
Van Trotsenburg brings deep experience in regional operations and finance, drawing on his experience as the longest serving Bank executive at MD-Vice Presidential level, with two tenures in the Finance Complex and two in Operations. In the year before assuming his MDO position, he was at separate times Acting World Bank CFO and Acting World Bank CEO, serving these roles concurrently with his roles as Vice President.
Van Trotsenburg has extensive experience mobilizing financial resources for development. As Vice President for Development Finance in 2016-2019, he was responsible for the replenishment and stewardship of the International Development Association (IDA), the largest source of concessional financing for the world's poorest countries. He has been a strong champion for IDA, leading and negotiating IDA16 and IDA18 cycles, and chairing IDA20, which together mobilized a record $293 billion for the world’s poor – this includes $93 billion for IDA20; $75 billion in 2016 for IDA18; and $50 billion in 2010 for IDA16.
Under his leadership, for the first time, IDA leveraged its equity by blending donor contributions with internal resources and funds raised through debt markets while increasing its operations to Africa, which now accounts for about 70 percent of total IDA support, up from 15% in 2000.
Van Trotsenburg also oversaw the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) corporate finances. He co-led the WBG’s efforts to obtain a capital increase which resulted in shareholders endorsing a transformative package in April 2018, including an increase of the IBRD capital by $60 billion. He also co-chaired twice the replenishment negotiations for the Global Environment Facility – the GEF5 and GEF7 – and was responsible of a multi-billion-dollar trust fund portfolio.
Apart from his experience in managing World Bank finances, van Trotsenburg has had extensive experience in country operations and regional programs. He served as Vice President for the Latin America and Caribbean Region in 2019; as East Asia and Pacific Region from 2013 to 2016; as Country Director for Colombia and Mexico from July 2007 to July 2009; and as Country Director for Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay from 2002 to July 2007. He also worked as a Senior Country Economist for Côte d’Ivoire and Economist for Guatemala.
Van Trotsenburg was a Senior Manager and architect of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative, the largest and most comprehensive debt relief program for poor countries. In this capacity, he was responsible, with his IMF counterparts, for the design of the debt relief framework as well as the delivery of debt relief packages of about $30 billion for 20 countries.
He joined the Bank as a Young Professional in 1988. Prior to joining the World Bank, van Trotsenburg worked at the OECD in Paris. He holds a master’s and a doctorate degree in economics and a master’s degree in international affairs. He is married and has two adult children.