Lewis T. Preston

Lewis Preston was the eighth President of the World Bank Group. Serving from 1991 to 1995, the distinguished commercial banker created a client-oriented vision for the Bank Group as it celebrated its 50th anniversary. He declared that alleviating poverty would be the Bank Group's overarching objective and said that applications for loans would be judged on a nation's social justice record as well as on its economic efficiency

Preston emphasized the quality of lending over the quantity of lending. He led the institution through one of its most turbulent eras.

Preston's chief objectives were to make the Bank more flexible, more cost-effective, and more responsive to prevailing social concerns. He stated that the key to success for the World Bank Group depended on its ability to respond to the changes in the world and to execute its administrative role accordingly. With Preston's concern with the efficacy of the institution's operations, he strengthened social sector lending.

Preston made a clear link between poverty and environmental degradation. Preston's predecessor instituted measures to improve the Bank Group's performance in the environmental field, including the establishment of an Environment Department to oversee the Bank Group's work. An effort that came to fruition during Preston's tenure was the Global Environment Facility (GEF), a cooperative program among the World Bank Group, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The GEF agreement was formalized in 1991, and the first grant for environmental projects was made in December of that year.

Preston instituted a further reorganization of the Bank Group's structure, designed to streamline the management structure and simplify the budgeting process. He created the Business Innovation and Simplification Committee to simplify and improve the Bank Group's business processes and established large new units in the areas of human resources, environmentally sustainable development, and the promotion of the private sector.

< Prev   CONTENTS   Next >