WASHINGTON  - American economist Jeffrey Sachs threw his name into the ring for the presidency of the World Bank on Friday in an unusual public campaign for the top global development job.

In an opinion piece in The Washington Post, Sachs argued his credentials made him a better candidate than the bankers and politicians usually put forward by Washington.

“Unlike previous World Bank presidents, I don’t come from Wall Street or U.S. politics. I am a practitioner of economic development, a scholar and a writer,” he wrote. He was more blunt in an interview. “I don’t believe that this is a job for amateurs,” Sachs said by telephone.

A long-time adviser to the United Nations and to many governments on poverty issues, Sachs runs a research institute on development at Columbia University in New York.

World Bank President Robert Zoellick, a former Goldman Sachs executive who held senior posts in the U.S. government, steps down in June. The World Bank provides loans and grants to emerging and developing countries to fight poverty and develop their economies.

Sachs says he would bring the institution closer to cutting edge scientific research. He also says he would focus more on using technology to improve health, education and access to electricity in poor countries.

Under a decades-old gentleman’s agreement, Americans have always run the World Bank, while the International Monetary Fund - its sister institution - has always been led by Europeans. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers and U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice are frequently mentioned as possible candidates to succeed Zoellick. Developing nations, however, are clamoring for a bigger voice.

Sachs said he has won the trust of many developing nations after advising them on how to fight poverty. He expects several to nominate him formally by letter soon.

The World Bank would not comment. It has said it will only make public the names of the candidates that make its “short list” ahead of a final decision due by April. Member countries have until March 23 to submit names.