The World Bank
The World Bank
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World Bank
The World Bank (French: Banque mondiale) is an international financial institution that provides loans to countries of the world for capital projects.

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Not to be confused with World Bank Group.

World BankWorld Bank logoMottoWorking for a World Free of PovertyFormationJuly 1945; 73 years ago (1945-07)TypeMonetary International Financial OrganizationLegal statusTreatyHeadquartersWashington, D.C., U.S.Membership 190 countries (IBRD)[1]
173 countries (IDA)[1]Key people
  • Jim Yong Kim (President)
  • Kristalina Georgieva (CEO)
  • Shanta Devarajan (Chief Economist) (Acting)[2]
Parent organizationWorld Bank

The World Bank (French: Banque mondiale)[3] is an international financial institution that provides loans[4] to countries of the world for capital projects. It comprises two institutions: the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), and the International Development Association (IDA). The World Bank is a component of the World Bank Group.

The World Bank's most recent stated goal is the reduction of poverty.[5] As of November 2018, the largest recipients of world bank loans were India ($859 million in 2018) and China ($370 million in 2018), through loans from IBRD.[6][7]

  • 1 World Bank Group
  • 2 History
    • 2.1 1944–1974
    • 2.2 1974–1980
    • 2.3 1980–1989
    • 2.4 1989–present
      • 2.4.1 Criteria
  • 3 Leadership
    • 3.1 Presidents
    • 3.2 Chief Economists
  • 4 Members
    • 4.1 Voting power
  • 5 List of 20 largest countries by voting power in each World Bank institution
  • 6 Poverty reduction strategies
  • 7 Global partnerships and initiatives
    • 7.1 Climate change
    • 7.2 Food security
  • 8 Training wings
    • 8.1 World Bank Institute
    • 8.2 Global Development Learning Network
      • 8.2.1 GDLN Asia Pacific
    • 8.3 The JUSTPAL Network
  • 9 Country assistance strategies
  • 10 Clean Air Initiative
  • 11 United Nations Development Business
  • 12 Open data initiative
  • 13 Grants table
  • 14 Open Knowledge Repository
  • 15 Criticisms & Controversy
    • 15.1 Structural adjustment
    • 15.2 Fairness of assistance conditions
    • 15.3 Sovereign immunity
    • 15.4 PricewaterhouseCoopers (1998)
  • 16 See also
  • 17 References
  • 18 Further reading
  • 19 External links
World Bank Group

The World Bank is different from the World Bank Group, an extended family of five international organizations:

  • International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD)
  • International Development Association (IDA)
  • International Finance Corporation (IFC)
  • Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA)
  • International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID)
History John Maynard Keynes (right) and Harry Dexter White, the "founding fathers" of both the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).[8]

The World Bank was created at the 1944 Bretton Woods Conference along with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The president of the World Bank is, traditionally, an American.[9] The World Bank and the IMF are both based in Washington, D.C., and work closely with each other.

The Gold Room at the Mount Washington Hotel where the International Monetary Fund and World Bank were established

Although many countries were represented at the Bretton Woods Conference, the United States and United Kingdom were the most powerful in attendance and dominated the negotiations.[10]:52–54 The intention behind the founding of the World Bank was to provide temporary loans to low-income countries which were unable to obtain loans commercially.[5] The Bank may also make loans and demand policy reforms from recipients.[5]


Before 1974, the reconstruction and development loans provided by the World Bank were relatively small. The Bank's staff were aware of the need to instill confidence in the bank. Fiscal conservatism ruled, and loan applications had to meet strict criteria.[10]:56–60

The first country to receive a World Bank loan was France. The Bank's president at the time, John McCloy, chose France over two other applicants, Poland and Chile. The loan was for US$250 million, half the amount requested, and it came with strict conditions. France had to agree to produce a balanced budget and give priority of debt repayment to the World Bank over other governments. World Bank staff closely monitored the use of the funds to ensure that the French government met the conditions. In addition, before the loan was approved, the United States State Department told the French government that its members associated with the Communist Party would first have to be removed. The French government complied and removed the Communist coalition government - the so-called tripartite. Within hours, the loan to France was approved.[11]:288, 290–291

When the Marshall Plan went into effect in 1947, many European countries began receiving aid from other sources. Faced with this competition, the World Bank shifted its focus to non-European countries. Until 1968, its loans were earmarked for the construction of infrastructure works, such as seaports, highway systems, and power plants, that would generate enough income to enable a borrower country to repay the loan. In 1960, the International Development Association was formed (as opposed to a UN fund named SUNFED), providing soft loans to developing countries.


From 1974 to 1980 the bank concentrated on meeting the basic needs of people in the developing world. The size and number of loans to borrowers was greatly increased as loan targets expanded from infrastructure into social services and other sectors.[12]

These changes can be attributed to Robert McNamara, who was appointed to the presidency in 1968 by Lyndon B. Johnson.[10]:60–63 McNamara implored bank treasurer Eugene Rotberg to seek out new sources of capital outside of the northern banks that had been the primary sources of funding. Rotberg used the global bond market to increase the capital available to the bank.[13] One consequence of the period of poverty alleviation lending was the rapid rise of third world debt. From 1976 to 1980 developing world debt rose at an average annual rate of 20%.[14][15]

In 1980 the World Bank Administrative Tribunal was established to decide on disputes between the World Bank Group and its staff where allegation of non-observance of contracts of employment or terms of appointment had not been honored.[16]


In 1980 McNamara was succeeded by US President Jimmy Carter's nominee, Alden W. Clausen.[17][18] Clausen replaced many members of McNamara's staff and crafted a different mission emphasis. His 1982 decision to replace the bank's Chief Economist, Hollis B. Chenery, with Anne Krueger was an example of this new focus. Krueger was known for her criticism of development funding and for describing Third World governments as "rent-seeking states."

During the 1980s the bank emphasized lending to service Third-World debt, and structural adjustment policies designed to streamline the economies of developing nations. UNICEF reported in the late 1980s that the structural adjustment programs of the World Bank had been responsible for "reduced health, nutritional and educational levels for tens of millions of children in Asia, Latin America, and Africa".[19]


Beginning in 1989, in response to harsh criticism from many groups, the bank began including environmental groups and NGOs in its loans to mitigate the past effects of its development policies that had prompted the criticism.[10]:93–97 It also formed an implementing agency, in accordance with the Montreal Protocols, to stop ozone-depletion damage to the Earth's atmosphere by phasing out the use of 95% of ozone-depleting chemicals, with a target date of 2015. Since then, in accordance with its so-called "Six Strategic Themes", the bank has put various additional policies into effect to preserve the environment while promoting development. For example, in 1991 the bank announced that to protect against deforestation, especially in the Amazon, it would not finance any commercial logging or infrastructure projects that harm the environment.

In order to promote global public goods, the World Bank tries to control communicable disease such as malaria, delivering vaccines to several parts of the world and joining combat forces. In 2000 the bank announced a "war on AIDS" and in 2011 the Bank joined the Stop Tuberculosis Partnership.[20]

Traditionally, based on a tacit understanding between the United States and Europe, the president of the World Bank has always been selected from candidates nominated by the United States. In 2012, for the first time, two non-US citizens were nominated.

On 23 March 2012, U.S. President Barack Obama announced that the United States would nominate Jim Yong Kim as the next president of the Bank.[21] Jim Yong Kim was elected on 27 April 2012.

The World Bank Group headquarters building in Washington, D.C. Criteria

Various developments had brought the Millennium Development Goals targets for 2015 within reach in some cases. For the goals to be realized, six criteria must be met: stronger and more inclusive growth in Africa and fragile states, more effort in health and education, integration of the development and environment agendas, more as well as better aid, movement on trade negotiations, and stronger and more focused support from multilateral institutions like the World Bank.[22]

  1. Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger: From 1990 through 2004 the proportion of people living in extreme poverty fell from almost a third to less than a fifth. Although results vary widely within regions and countries, the trend indicates that the world as a whole can meet the goal of halving the percentage of people living in poverty. Africa's poverty, however, is expected to rise, and most of the 36 countries where 90% of the world's undernourished children live are in Africa. Less than a quarter of countries are on track for achieving the goal of halving under-nutrition.
  2. Achieve Universal Primary Education: The percentage of children in school in developing countries increased from 80% in 1991 to 88% in 2005. Still, about 72 million children of primary school age, 57% of them girls, were not being educated as of 2005[update].
  3. Promote Gender Equality: The tide is turning slowly for women in the labor market, yet far more women than men- worldwide more than 60% – are contributing but unpaid family workers. The World Bank Group Gender Action Plan was created to advance women's economic empowerment and promote shared growth.
  4. Reduce Child Mortality: There is some improvement in survival rates globally; accelerated improvements are needed most urgently in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. An estimated 10 million-plus children under five died in 2005; most of their deaths were from preventable causes.
  5. Improve Maternal Health: Almost all of the half million women who die during pregnancy or childbirth every year live in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. There are numerous causes of maternal death that require a variety of health care interventions to be made widely accessible.
  6. Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and Other Diseases: Annual numbers of new HIV infections and AIDS deaths have fallen, but the number of people living with HIV continues to grow. In the eight worst-hit southern African countries, prevalence is above 15 percent. Treatment has increased globally, but still meets only 30 percent of needs (with wide variations across countries). AIDS remains the leading cause of death in Sub-Saharan Africa (1.6 million deaths in 2007). There are 300 to 500 million cases of malaria each year, leading to more than 1 million deaths. Nearly all the cases and more than 95 percent of the deaths occur in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  7. Ensure Environmental Sustainability: Deforestation remains a critical problem, particularly in regions of biological diversity, which continues to decline. Greenhouse gas emissions are increasing faster than energy technology advancement.
  8. Develop a Global Partnership for Development: Donor countries have renewed their commitment. Donors have to fulfill their pledges to match the current rate of core program development. Emphasis is being placed on the Bank Group's collaboration with multilateral and local partners to quicken progress toward the MDGs' realization.

To make sure that World Bank-financed operations do not compromise these goals but instead add to their realisation, environmental, social and legal safeguards were defined. However, these safeguards have not been implemented entirely yet. At the World Bank's annual meeting in Tokyo 2012 a review of these safeguards has been initiated, which was welcomed by several civil society organisations.[23]

Leadership Jim Yong Kim, the current President of the World Bank Group

The President of the Bank is the president of the entire World Bank Group. The president, currently Jim Yong Kim, is responsible for chairing the meetings of the Boards of Directors and for overall management of the Bank. Traditionally, the President of the Bank has always been a US citizen nominated by the United States, the largest shareholder in the bank (the managing director of the International Monetary Fund having always been a European). The nominee is subject to confirmation by the Board of Executive Directors, to serve for a five-year, renewable term. While most World Bank presidents have had banking experience, some have not.[24][25]

The vice presidents of the Bank are its principal managers, in charge of regions, sectors, networks and functions. There are two Executive Vice presidents, three Senior Vice presidents, and 24 Vice presidents.[26]

The Boards of Directors consist of the World Bank Group President and 25 Executive Directors. The President is the presiding officer, and ordinarily has no vote except a deciding vote in case of an equal division. The Executive Directors as individuals cannot exercise any power nor commit or represent the Bank unless specifically authorized by the Boards to do so. With the term beginning 1 November 2010, the number of Executive Directors increased by one, to 25.[27]

Presidents Name Dates Nationality Previous work Eugene Meyer 1946–1946 United States Newspaper publisher and Chairman of the Federal Reserve John J. McCloy 1947–1949 United States Lawyer and US Assistant Secretary of War Eugene R. Black, Sr. 1949–1963 United States Bank executive with Chase and executive director with the World Bank George Woods 1963–1968 United States Bank executive with First Boston Corporation Robert McNamara 1968–1981 United States President of the Ford Motor Company, US Defense Secretary under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson who escalated the Vietnam War[28] Alden W. Clausen 1981–1986 United States Lawyer, bank executive with Bank of America Barber Conable 1986–1991 United States New York State Senator and US Congressman Lewis T. Preston 1991–1995 United States Bank executive with J.P. Morgan James Wolfensohn 1995–2005 United States
Australia (prev.) Wolfensohn was a naturalised American citizen before taking office. Corporate lawyer and banker Paul Wolfowitz 2005–2007 United States US Ambassador to Indonesia, US Deputy Secretary of Defense, Dean of the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University, prominent architect of 2003 invasion of Iraq, resigned World Bank post due to ethics scandal[29] Robert Zoellick 2007–2012 United States Deputy Secretary of State and US Trade Representative Jim Yong Kim 2012–present United States
South Korea (prev.) Former Chair of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard, president of Dartmouth College, naturalized American citizen[30] Chief Economists Main article: World Bank Chief Economist Name Dates Nationality Hollis B. Chenery 1972–1982 United States Anne Osborn Krueger 1982–1986 United States Stanley Fischer 1988–1990 United States Lawrence Summers 1991–1993 United States Michael Bruno 1993–1996 Israel Joseph E. Stiglitz 1997–2000 United States Nicholas Stern 2000–2003 United Kingdom François Bourguignon 2003–2007 France Justin Yifu Lin 2008–2012 China Kaushik Basu 2012–2016 India Shanta Sharanja 2016–2018 United States


Members Main article: List of World Bank members

The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) has 189 member countries, while the International Development Association (IDA) has 173 members. Each member state of IBRD should be also a member of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and only members of IBRD are allowed to join other institutions within the Bank (such as IDA).[1]

Voting power

In 2010 voting powers at the World Bank were revised to increase the voice of developing countries, notably China. The countries with most voting power are now the United States (15.85%), Japan (6.84%), China (4.42%), Germany (4.00%), the United Kingdom (3.75%), France (3.75%), India (2.91%),[32] Russia (2.77%), Saudi Arabia (2.77%) and Italy (2.64%). Under the changes, known as 'Voice Reform – Phase 2', countries other than China that saw significant gains included South Korea, Turkey, Mexico, Singapore, Greece, Brazil, India, and Spain. Most developed countries' voting power was reduced, along with a few developing countries such as Nigeria. The voting powers of the United States, Russia and Saudi Arabia were unchanged.[33][34]

The changes were brought about with the goal of making voting more universal in regards to standards, rule-based with objective indicators, and transparent among other things. Now, developing countries have an increased voice in the "Pool Model", backed especially by Europe. Additionally, voting power is based on economic size in addition to International Development Association contributions.[35]

List of 20 largest countries by voting power in each World Bank institution

The following table shows the subscriptions of the top 20 member countries of the World Bank by voting power in the following World Bank institutions as of December 2014 or March 2015: the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the International Development Association (IDA), and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA). Member countries are allocated votes at the time of membership and subsequently for additional subscriptions to capital (one vote for each share of capital stock held by the member).[36][37][38][39]

The 20 Largest Countries by voting power (Number of Votes) Rank Country IBRD Country IFC Country IDA Country MIGA World 2,201,754 World 2,653,476 World 24,682,951 World 218,237 1 United States 358,498 United States 570,179 United States 2,546,503 United States 32,790 2 Japan 166,094 Japan 163,334 Japan 2,112,243 Japan 9,205 3 China 107,244 Germany 129,708 United Kingdom 1,510,934 Germany 9,162 4 Germany 97,224 France 121,815 Germany 1,368,001 France 8,791 5 France 87,241 United Kingdom 121,815 France 908,843 United Kingdom 8,791 6 United Kingdom 87,241 India 103,747 Saudi Arabia 810,293 China 5,756 7 India 67,690 Russia 103,653 India 661,909 Russia 5,754 8 Saudi Arabia 67,155 Canada 82,142 Canada 629,658 Saudi Arabia 5,754 9 Canada 59,004 Italy 82,142 Italy 573,858 India 5,597 10 Italy 54,877 China 62,392 China 521,830 Canada 5,451 11 Russia 54,651 Netherlands 56,931 Poland 498,102 Italy 5,196 12 Spain 42,948 Belgium 51,410 Sweden 494,360 Netherlands 4,048 13 Brazil 42,613 Australia 48,129 Netherlands 488,209 Belgium 3,803 14 Netherlands 42,348 Switzerland 44,863 Brazil 412,322 Australia 3,245 15 Korea 36,591 Brazil 40,279 Australia 312,566 Switzerland 2,869 16 Belgium 36,463 Mexico 38,929 Switzerland 275,755 Brazil 2,832 17 Iran 34,718 Spain 37,826 Belgium 275,474 Spain 2,491 18 Switzerland 33,296 Indonesia 32,402 Norway 258,209 Argentina 2,436 19 Australia 30,910 Saudi Arabia 30,862 Denmark 231,685 Indonesia 2,075 20 Turkey 26,293 Korea 28,895 Pakistan 218,506 Sweden 2,075 Poverty reduction strategies

For the poorest developing countries in the world, the bank's assistance plans are based on poverty reduction strategies; by combining a cross-section of local groups with an extensive analysis of the country's financial and economic situation the World Bank develops a strategy pertaining uniquely to the country in question. The government then identifies the country's priorities and targets for the reduction of poverty, and the World Bank aligns its aid efforts correspondingly.

Forty-five countries pledged US$25.1 billion in "aid for the world's poorest countries", aid that goes to the World Bank International Development Association (IDA), which distributes the loans to eighty poorer countries. While wealthier nations sometimes fund their own aid projects, including those for diseases, and although IDA is the recipient of criticism, Robert B. Zoellick, the former president of the World Bank, said when the loans were announced on 15 December 2007, that IDA money "is the core funding that the poorest developing countries rely on".[40]

World Bank organizes Development Marketplace Awards, a competitive grant program that surfaces and funds innovative, development projects with high potential for development impact that are scalable and/or replicable. The grant beneficiaries are social enterprises with projects that aim to deliver a range of social and public services to the most underserved low-income groups.

Global partnerships and initiatives

The World Bank has been assigned temporary management responsibility of the Clean Technology Fund (CTF), focused on making renewable energy cost-competitive with coal-fired power as quickly as possible, but this may not continue after UN's Copenhagen climate change conference in December 2009, because of the Bank's continued investment in coal-fired power plants.[41]

Together with the World Health Organization, the World Bank administers the International Health Partnership (IHP+). IHP+ is a group of partners committed to improving the health of citizens in developing countries. Partners work together to put international principles for aid effectiveness and development cooperation into practice in the health sector. IHP+ mobilizes national governments, development agencies, civil society and others to support a single, country-led national health strategy in a well-coordinated way.

Climate change

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said in 2012 that:

"A 4 degree warmer world can, and must be, avoided – we need to hold warming below 2 degrees ... Lack of action on climate change threatens to make the world our children inherit a completely different world than we are living in today. Climate change is one of the single biggest challenges facing development, and we need to assume the moral responsibility to take action on behalf of future generations, especially the poorest."[42] A World Bank report into Climate change in 2012 noted that (p. xiii): "Even with the current mitigation commitments and pledges fully implemented, there is roughly a 20 percent likelihood of exceeding 4 °C by 2100." This is despite the fact that the "global community has committed itself to holding warming below 2 °C to prevent 'dangerous' climate change". Furthermore: "A series of recent extreme events worldwide highlight the vulnerability of all countries ... No nation will be immune to the impacts of climate change."[43]

The World Bank doubled its aid for climate change adaptation from $2.3bn (£1.47bn) in 2011 to $4.6bn in 2012. The planet is now 0.8 °C warmer than in pre-industrial times. It says that 2 °C warming will be reached in 20 to 30 years.[44][45]

Food security Main article: Food security
  1. Global Food Security Program: Launched in April 2010, six countries alongside the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have pledged $925 million for food security. To date, the program has helped 8 countries, promoting agriculture, research, trade in agriculture, etc.
  2. Launched Global Food Crisis Response Program: Given grants to approximately 40 nations for seeds, etc. for improving productivity.
  3. In process of increasing its yearly spending for agriculture to $6 billion–$8 billion from earlier $4 billion.
  4. Runs several nutrition program across the world, e.g., vitamin A doses for children, school meals, etc.[citation needed]
Training wings World Bank Institute

The World Bank Institute (WBI) creates learning opportunities for countries, World Bank staff and clients, and people committed to poverty reduction and sustainable development. WBI's work program includes training, policy consultations, and the creation and support of knowledge networks related to international economic and social development.

The World Bank Institute (WBI) is a "global connector of knowledge, learning and innovation for poverty reduction". It aims to inspire change agents and prepare them with essential tools that can help achieve development results. WBI has four major strategies to approach development problems: innovation for development, knowledge exchange, leadership and coalition building, and structured learning. World Bank Institute (WBI) was formerly known as Economic Development Institute (