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The World Bank: IBRD and IDA

Working for a World Free of Poverty 

The World Bank is an international financial institution that provides loans and grants to the governments of poorer countries for the purpose of pursuing 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.


  • International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) provides loans, credits, and grants.
  • International Development Association (IDA) provides low- or no-interest loans to low-income countries.
  • The International Finance Corporation (IFC) provides investment, advice, and asset management to companies and governments.
  • The Multilateral Guarantee Agency (MIGA) insures lenders and investors against political risk such as war.
  • The International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) settles investment-disputes between investors and countries.


The Bretton Woods Conference, officially known as the United Nations Monetary and  Financial Conference, was a gathering of delegates from 44 nations that met from July 1 to 22,  1944 in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire (USA), to agree upon a series of new rules for international financial and monetary order after the conclusion of World War II.

The two major accomplishments of the conference were the creation of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Founded in 1944, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) — soon called the World Bank — has expanded to a closely associated group of five development institutions.

Originally, its loans helped rebuild countries devastated by World War II. In time, the focus shifted from reconstruction to development, with a heavy emphasis on infrastructures such as dams, electrical grids, irrigation systems, and roads.

With the founding of the International Finance Corporation (IFC) in 1956, the institution became able to lend to private companies and financial institutions in developing countries.

The founding of the International Development Association (IDA) in 1960 put greater emphasis on the poorest countries, part of a steady shift toward the eradication of poverty becoming the Bank Group’s primary goal.

International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) founded in 1966 settles investment disputes between investors and countries.

Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) founded in 1988 insures lenders and investors against political risk such as war.



The World Bank Group is one of the world’s largest sources of funding and knowledge for developing countries. Its five institutions share a commitment to reducing poverty, increasing shared prosperity,  and promoting sustainable development.


To end extreme poverty: By reducing the share of the global population that lives in extreme poverty to  3 per cent by 2030. To promote shared prosperity: By increasing the incomes of the poorest 40 per cent of people in every country. The World Bank Group is one of the world’s largest sources of funding and knowledge for developing countries. Its five institutions share a commitment to reducing poverty,  increasing shared prosperity, and promoting sustainable development.


The World Bank is like a cooperative, made up of 189 member countries. These member countries, or shareholders, are represented by a Board of Governors, who are the ultimate policymakers at the World  Bank. Generally, the governors are member countries’ ministers of finance or ministers of development.

They meet once a year at the Annual Meetings of the Boards of Governors of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund. 

They have more than 10,000 employees in more than 120 offices worldwide.

Financial Products and Services 

They provide low-interest loans, zero to low-interest credits, and grants to developing countries.  These support a wide array of investments in such areas as education, health, public administration, infrastructure, financial and private sector development, agriculture, and environmental and natural resource management. Some of our projects are cofinanced with governments, other multilateral institutions, commercial banks, export credit agencies, and private sector investors.

Innovative Knowledge Sharing 

They offer support to developing countries through policy advice, research and analysis, and technical assistance. Our analytical work often underpins World Bank financing and helps inform developing countries’ own investments. In addition, they support capacity development in the countries they serve. They also sponsor, host, or participate in many conferences and forums on issues of development, often in collaboration with partners.

Focus Area 

To ensure that countries can access the best global expertise and help generate cutting-edge knowledge, the Bank is constantly seeking to improve the way it shares its knowledge and engages with clients and the public at large.

  • Results: They continue to sharpen their focus on helping developing countries deliver measurable results.
  • Reform: They are working to improve every aspect of their work: how projects are designed, how information is made available (Access to Information), and how to bring our operations closer to client governments and communities.
  • Open Development: They offer a growing range of free, easy-to-access tools, research and knowledge to help people address the world’s development challenges. For example, the Open Data website offers free access to comprehensive, downloadable indicators about development in countries around the globe. They have also made World Bank Live—live discussions open to participants worldwide—a key part of our Spring and  Annual Meetings with the International Monetary Fund.


  • Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger
  • Achieve Universal Primary Education
  • Promote Gender Equality
  • Reduce Child Mortality
  • Improve Maternal Health
  • Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and Other Diseases
  • Ensure Environmental Sustainability
  • Develop a Global Partnership for Development


The President of the Bank is the president of the entire World Bank Group. The president is responsible for chairing meetings of the Boards of Directors and for the 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 Boards of Governors consist of one Governor and one Alternate Governor appointed by each member country. The office is usually held by the country’s minister of finance, governor of its central bank, or a senior official of similar rank. The Governors and Alternates serve for terms of five years and can be reappointed.

Role of the Boards of Governors 

All powers of the Bank are vested in the Boards of Governors, the Bank’s senior decision-making body according to the Articles of Agreement. However, the Boards of Governors has delegated all powers to the Executive Directors except those mentioned in the Articles of  Agreement. These powers include:

  • Admit and suspend members;
  • Increase or decrease the authorized capital stock;
  • Determine the distribution of the net income of the Bank;
  • Decide appeals from interpretations of the Articles of Agreement by the Executive  Directors;
  • Make formal comprehensive arrangements to cooperate with other international  organizations;
  • Suspend permanently the operations of the Bank;
  • Increase the number of elected Executive Directors; and
  • Approve amendments to the Articles of Agreement.


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%), Russia (2.77%), Saudi Arabia (2.77%) and Italy (2.64%).


  • Agriculture
  • Education
  • Energy
  • Environment & Natural Resources
  • Finance, Competitiveness & Innovation
  • Governance
  • Health, Nutrition & Population
  • Jobs and Development
  • Macroeconomics, Trade & Investment
  • Poverty
  • Social Protection
  • Social, Urban, Rural, & Resilience
  • Transport
  • Digital Development
  • Water

This blog pertains to UPSC papers on GS 2, International Organisation, Political Science optional paper 2 and Essay Type Question. Also, do check our previous blogs on various topics. Subscribe today so that you don’t miss out on any important topics.


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