An international organization created at Breton Woods in 1944 to help in the reconstruction and development of its member nations. Its goal is to improve the quality of life for people in the poorer regions of the world by promoting sustainable economic development. See also International Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
Informal name for a group of four affiliated international institutions: the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD); the International Development Association (IDA); the International Finance Corporation (IFC); and the Multilateral Investment Guaranty Agency (MIGA). The four institutions are owned by the governments of the countries that subscribe their capital for credit and investment in developing countries; each institution has a specialized agenda for aiding economic growth in target countries. To participate in the World Bank group, member states first must belong to the International Monetary Fund (IMF-- q.v.).
The World Bank Group is comprised of five agencies that make loans or guarantee credit to 177 member countries. Its stated aim is to help countries reduce poverty by making long-term loans to governments for large-scale projects such as dams or pipelines, or to back economic reform programmes. However, World Bank loans have often had very negative effects on countries putting them in situations of precarious debt and setting conditions on which countries can receive loans, conditions which often have a devastating impact on the lives of citizens.