Background (Encyclopedia of Global Resources)
The World Bank is also known as the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. It was created after the Bretton Woods Conference in 1944. Its original goal was to rebuild international economic systems after World War II. Its focus shifted to helping developing countries with the stated goal of poverty reduction by offering financial, institutional, and technical support.
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Impact on Resource Use (Encyclopedia of Global Resources)
The World Bank suggests that poor countries have suffered from chronic poverty not because of a lack of natural resources but as a result of a“resource curse”—they lack the incentives to diversify their economies because of the abundance of natural resources. Poor management, inadequate infrastructure, and a lack of know-how are also cited as causes of poverty. climate change has posed further threats to developing countries, because poor people rely heavily on natural resources for their livelihoods. More episodes of flood and drought, owing to anthropologically induced climatic variability, will severely affect their survival. Because of this background, integrating natural resources into sustainable development has become the World Bank’s key strategy in rural development and environmental conservation.
To achieve sustainable natural resources management, the World Bank focuses on four main areas: forests, desertification, water, and biodiversity. While many programs take place at the community level, the World Bank also promotes crosscutting and cross-sectoral interventions at both national and international levels through public-private partnerships and civil society programs. The World Bank also introduces new technologies, such as biofuels, to help developing countries raise agricultural productivity and capitalize on the rising commodity price levels.
In the 1980’s, the World Bank adopted the...
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Mission (Encyclopedia of Global Warming)
Named the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the World Bank was established in 1945 with the aim of promoting the post-World War II reconstruction. It has since evolved and become strongly focused on worldwide poverty alleviation, in conjunction with its affiliate, the International Development Association. The bank also deals with humanitarian emergencies and post-conflict rehabilitation affecting developing and transition economies.
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Significance for Climate Change (Encyclopedia of Global Warming)
In December, 2007, Robert Zoellick, president of the World Bank Group, said at the Climate Change Conference in Bali, Indonesia: “Climate change is a development, economic, and investment challenge. It offers an opportunity for economic and social transformation that can lead to an inclusive and sustainable globalization.” His comment is crucial in two respects: First, it demonstrates that the bank places climate change high in its development agenda. Second, it shows that the bank considers climate change as offering new opportunities for long-term poverty reduction and sustainable development.
The bank takes its climate change agenda seriously, because, according to its own research, a 1° Celsius increase in temperature will lead to a 10 percent loss in average net revenues per hectare in Africa. By 2020, it is estimated that between 75 million and 250 million people in Africa will suffer from water stress due to climate change. These scenarios will affect millions of poor people in developing countries, because they are dependent on natural resources for livelihoods such as agriculture, forestry, and fishing. Water and energy resources are also sensitive to climate change. The expected rise in sea level will also cause loss of farmland and result in migration and increased risk of conflicts over scarce resources. Poor people are least capable of adapting to climate changes because of inadequate...
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Further Reading (Encyclopedia of Global Warming)
Tan, Celine. “World Bank’s Climate Change Funds Will Undermine Global Climate Action.” Penang, Maylaysia: Third World Network, 2008. Provides a critique of the Bank’s unfair climate change policies in developing countries.
World Bank. Climate Change and Adaptation: Environment Matters at the World Bank. Washington, D.C.: Author, 2008. Examines the impact of climate change in different developing countries and the bank’s updated adaptation policies.
_______. IDA and Climate Change: Making Climate Action Work for Development. Washington, D.C.: Author, 2008. Highlights the bank’s mitigation policy and finances in response to climate change.
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World Bank (West's Encyclopedia of American Law)
The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, commonly referred to as the World Bank, is an international financial institution whose purposes include assisting the development of its member nations' territories, promoting and supplementing private foreign investment, and promoting long-range balanced growth in international trade.
The World Bank was established in July 1944 at the United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire. It opened for business in June 1946 and helped in the reconstruction of nations devastated by WORLD WAR II. Since the 1960s the World Bank has shifted its focus from the advanced industrialized nations to developing third-world countries.
The World Bank consists of a number of separate institutions. The three major institutions are the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), the International Development Association (IDA), and the International Finance Corporation (IFC). The IBRD, the bank's most important component, lends funds directly, guarantees loans made by others, or participates in these loans. The IDA, which was established in 1960, lends to low-income countries on more favorable terms, charging a small service fee but no interest. It gets its funds from more affluent member countries. The IFC, established in 1956,...
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World Bank (Encyclopedia of Public Health)
Ensuring adequate levels of basic health and nutrition lies at the heart of poverty reduction and economic development, which are the cornerstones of the World Bank's mission. While much of the world has experienced notable health gains, the health, nutrition, and population challenges for most developing countries remain great in the twenty-first century:
- Six communicable diseasesIV/AIDS (human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome), malaria, tuberculosis, measles, diarrheal disease, and acute respiratory infectionccount for more than half of the global communicable disease burden.
- HIV/AIDS threatens the future progress of many countries, particularly in Africa where health care systems are stretched beyond their limits.
- Two million children die each year from vaccine-preventable diseases, and over half of the child mortality in low-income countries is linked to malnutrition.
- Cancer, heart disease, and injuries represent a growing proportion of the disease burden in many countries, and tobacco-related illness and death threaten more people, particularly women and young people.
- More than 500,000 maternal deaths occur each year, and more than one-third of all pregnancies are believed to be unwanted or mistimed.
- Environmental degradation poses a serious threat to health in much of the world, and the ability of populations to fight poverty and improve well-being.
Addressing these challenges requires approaches which transcend regional or organizational boundaries and embrace the active participation of communities. Together with sustained improvements in education (particularly for girls), the environment, and the availability of roads and safe water supplies, better health care can be achieved.
The World Bank's objectives for its work in health, nutrition, and population (HNP) are to assist countries in improving the HNP outcomes of poor people and protecting the population from the impoverishing effects of illness, malnutrition, and high fertility; enhancing the performance of health care systems; and securing sustainable health care financing.
The bank works together with countries in achieving these objectives in several complementary ways. First, the World Bank is the single largest source of HNP financing for developing countries. From 1970 through 2000, the bank has offered $16 billion in loans to more than one hundred countries. Second, the World Bank provides technical and policy advice on a wide range of topics in HNP, from health-system reform to maternal and child health and nutrition. The bank also supports governments in the formulation of poverty-reduction strategies that stress the role of human capital in general, and health status in particular, in fighting poverty. Third, the bank mobilizes and maintains partnerships with countries, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), private enterprises, bilateral donors, foundations, and other agencies. Fourth, knowledge management and sharing, including dissemination of the bank's analytical work, are also critical.
The bank's work in health emphasizes the interconnectedness between ill health and poverty. Recent work has supported improvements in the equity and efficiency of health systems through changing how health care providers are paid, how resources are allocated, and engaging private providers in publicly funded service provisions. Support is also directed towards upgrading infrastructure and equipment, training health personnel, and strengthening policymaking and capacity building.
In public health, the bank focuses on five priority areas: HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, maternal/child health and nutrition, and tobacco control. Recent work in the economics of tobacco control is helping to demonstrate to governments that taxation, together with other measures such as advertising bans, can significantly reduce smoking and save lives without permanent negative effects on the economy. Support for immunization programs continues to expand through the bank's partnership with the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization.
Recognizing that malnutrition takes an enormous toll on health and well-being, the bank committed about $2 billion to support nutrition activities from 1976 through 2000. The multisectoral approach adopted in these activities encompasses community-and school-based programs, with an emphasis on communication for behavior change, food fortification programs, and food policy reforms.
From 1970 through 2000, the bank supported more than 239 population and reproductive health projects in 87 countries. These activities help to address the impoverishing effects of unplanned pregnancy and maternal mortality, and to ensure that the vital needs of women, children, and adolescents are met. The bank's work links population policy with poverty reduction and human development through an approach which integrates family planning, maternal health, and the prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS.
(SEE ALSO: Family Planning Behavior; HIV/AIDS; International Development of Public Health; International Nongovernmental Organizations; Maternal and Child Health; Poverty; Reproduction)
World Bank (2001). World Development Report 2000001: Attacking Poverty. New York: Oxford University Press.
(2001). The World Bank Annual Report 2000. Washington, DC: Author
World Bank Group (1997). Health, Nutrition, and Population Sector Strategy Paper. Washington, DC: Author.
World Bank (Encyclopedia of Business)
The World Bank was created along with its sister institution, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, in 1944. World leaders gathered at the Bretton Woods conference to ensure the economic recovery and economic stabilization of a world economy ravaged by World War II. They created the World Bank, which over the decades has evolved into a lending institution working to foster the long-term growth of less-developed countries while integrating their economies into the global economy. The IMF, on the other hand, works to stabilize currency exchange rates and provides aid for countries with balance of payment problems.
The World Bank is more formally known as the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD). It is affiliated with four other organizations: the International Development Association, the International Finance Corporation, the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Dispute, and the Multi-Lateral Investment Guarantee Agency. The World Bank Group is an umbrella organization comprised of these four institutions and the IBRD. Although "World Bank" and "International Bank for Reconstruction and Development" are often used interchangeably, the term "World Bank" more properly describes an organization jointly comprising the IBRD and the International Development Association. The IBRD is also a designated "special agency" of the United Nations.
The immediate purpose of the Bretton Woods conference was to formulate a plan for post-World War II international economic cooperation. President Franklin Roosevelt and U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau Jr. both believed that a stabilized world economy would be invaluable in preventing a reoccurrence of the Great Depression of the 1930s and perhaps an ensuing global war. Establishment of the IBRD was an integral part of their plan.
Over the decades, the emphasis of the IBRD has shifted from its immediate and short-term purpose of rebuilding war-ravaged economies to the promotion of economic growth in developing countries. In fact the IBRD makes loans only to developing or transitional countries, unlike the IMF which makes no such distinction amongst its client nations. The IBRD makes loans directly to governments of member nations and to large private development projects that are backed by guarantees of member nation governments. Loans made directly to governments are generally to ease balance of payment problems, promote trade, and solve social sector problems related to such things as primary education, nutrition, and programs targeting the rural poor. The IBRD also helps governments in the promotion of "social safety nets" such as social security and pension systems. Private loans have traditionally been made for large building projects of high productivity and employment that will benefit the citizens of the host country. Environmental quality also figures in the IBRD's scheme of things; in 1998 it had a portfolio of 166 environmental projects totaling approximately $11 billion. To all of these ends the IBRD commits about $20 billion in new loans to approximately 100 developing countries annually. Although these loans are made at low interest rates, the IBRD is often criticized by the borrowing countries for imposing severe austerity measures as a condition of the loan.
The IBRD raises capital by borrowing from world capital markets and from members' subscriptions to capital shares. The IBRD, which regards itself as a fiscally conservative and prudent institution, accounts for nearly three-fourths of monies lent by the World Bank. Most of this money is raised by selling AAA-rated bonds and other debt securities to individuals and institutional investors such as corporations, insurance companies, and pension funds. The IBRD lends money at three-quarters of a percent above what its own borrowing rate is. Loans are financed for 15 to 20 years with a three-to-five-year grace period before repayment of principal must begin. A borrowing country has never defaulted on a loan, because of the IBRD's rule requiring that outstanding loans and disbursements not exceed the combined capital and reserves of the borrowing country.
In order to better align itself with the economic needs of a changing world, the IBRD has instituted a Strategic Compact designed to carry the institution well into the 21st century. The Strategic Compact will, it is hoped, make the IBRD more efficient by lowering costs, improving products and processes, and impacting more on its customer countries.
The 1997 Asian monetary crisis, which began with currency turmoil in Thailand and quickly grew to global proportions, has been the World Bank's greatest challenge. Between January and March 1997, however, the IBRD was able to quickly and with much efficiency raise $14.9 billion through 69 bond offerings in 17 different currencies. This speaks to the sophistication and ease with which the IBRD is able to move through world financial markets. Some of this is due to World Bank President James Wolfensohn who has held that position since 1995. Wolfensohn, in an effort to make the governments of developing countries politically as well as economically responsible, is changing the emphasis of the World Bank's lending priorities. Wolfensohn is shifting the exclusivity of lending policies away from such civil engineering projects as big dams and superhighways and more towards projects that will implement educational institutions, political reform, effective tax collection systems, and environmental regulation. Wolfensohn feels that such programs, if implemented, will encourage private-sector investment.
The chief governing authority of the IBRD is the Board of Governors, with one governor being appointed by each member country. The appointed governor is usually a finance minister or a person holding a comparable office in the represented country. Daily operations of the IBRD are administered by 24 executive directors who represent the interests of their respective countries while overseeing the implementation of IBRD policy and project management.
SEE ALSO: Development Banks
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Dudley, Nigel. "Most Professional Borrower: World Bank." Euromoney, June 1998, 104 + .
Kapur, Devesh. The World Bank: Its First Half Century. Washington: Brookings Institution, 1997.
McTague, Jim. "It's a New World: An Aussie-Born Wall Street Veteran Shakes Up a Big Multinational Lender." Barron's, 25 May 1998: 27-30.
Sender, Henny. "The Storm Intensifies: Asia's Still-Growing Problems May Drag down the Rest of the World." Far Eastern Economic Review, I October 1998, 44-50.
World Bank. "World Bank." Washington: International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, 1998. Available from www.worldbank.org.