International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD)

Banque internationale pour la reconstruction et le développement (BIRD)
Banco Internacional de Reconstrucción y Fomento (BIRF)

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27 Dec 1945, Washington DC (USA), when Bank's Charter, or 'Articles of Agreement', was signed by 28 nations; commenced operations 25 June 1946. IBRD was conceived at Bretton Woods Conference, 22 July 1944, when representatives of 44 nations met to lay plans for international economic and financial cooperation in postwar years. Most nations attending the Conference later ratified the Bank's Charter and became the first members. Although the USSR never became a member, after its dissolution its component republics individually applied for admission in 1991 and 1992. The Bank is a specialized agency of United Nations (UN) within United Nations System and linked to United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). Formal relations between the Bank and the UN are governed by an agreement approved by the Bank's Board of Governors in Sep 1947 and by the UN General Assembly in Nov 1947. Relations with the United Nations are maintained through the The World Bank Group, which is an umbrella organization comprising the IBRD with its affiliates: International Development Association (IDA), International Finance Corporation (IFC) and Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA). The IBRD is also known popularly as World Bank -- Banque mondiale -- Banco Mundial, although the expression 'World Bank' in fact technically refers to IBRD and IDA together.


Help reduce global poverty and promote the economic development of member countries by making loans to governments, or with a government guarantee, below conventional rates of interest for high-priority productive projects in cases where capital is not obtainable from other sources on reasonable terms; provide member countries with technical assistance on matters relating to their economic development; try to increase the effectiveness of the international development effort by fostering cooperation with and among other donors of financial and technical assistance.

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The initial emphasis of Bank activity was on urgent problems in reconstruction of the war-damaged economies in Western Europe, for which it made loans totalling US$ 497 million in 1947. When Marshall Aid came into operation in 1948, the Bank turned its attention to financing development worldwide. It plays a catalytic role through encouraging cofinancing of its loans with official agencies and commercial banks. The interest rate on loans to developing countries changes every 6 months. A small fee is charged (O.5% over Bank's borrowing costs on capital markets, reducing to O.25% or even O.15% for current borrowers). Loans usually have a 5-year grace period and must be repaid within 15 to 20 years. In providing guarantees, IBRD aims to cover the minimum risk possible to make a project finance-able. Partial risk guarantees are used mainly for limited recourse project finance, where lenders attach more importance to revenues and assets of a project than to the sponsor's credit and can cover risks associated with government contractual commitment; partial credit guarantees, however, cover only a part of the term of the financing and aim to improve borrowing terms through a lengthening maturity. Enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative (HIPC Initiative), enhanced framework commenced Oct 1999, is a response to the world debt crisis and the need for poverty reduction.

Of the US$ 11,500 million lent by IBRD in fiscal year 2002, regional distribution was as follows: Europe and Central Asia - 42%; Latin America and the Caribbean - 37%; East Asia and Pacific - 9%; South Asia - 8%; Middle East and North Africa - 4%; Sub-Saharan Africa - less than 1%. Emphasis is on investment that can directly affect the well-being of the masses of poor people in developing countries by making them more productive and integrating them as active partners in the developing process. Current focus is on assisting clients to improve development strategies, implement reform policies and build institutional capacity and on strengthening the financial and private sector regulatory framework and improving public sector governance. The Bank also supports economic management and urban development. For 2002, lending was aimed at the following sectors: Law, justice and public administration - 31%; Finance - 18%; Transportation - 13%; Health and other social services - 12%; Education - 7%; Energy and mining - 6%; Industry and trade - 5%; Agriculture, fishing and forestry - 5%; Water, sanitation and flood protection - 2%; Information and communication - 1%.

Regional and resident missions abroad assist member countries to identify and prepare projects for presentation to the Bank and IDA. Projects normally go through 6 stages: identification; preparation; appraisal; negotiation and Board presentation; implementation and supervision; evaluation, although some project ideas never get beyond identification and others may be fundamentally reworked during preparation and appraisal stages. 'Operations Evaluation Department (OED)', an independent department within IBRD, carries out the final (evaluation) stage. Development assistance is coordinated through Consultative Groups, Aid Groups and Aid Consortia of capital-providing countries and international agencies, which coordinate the flow of finance and technical assistance. The Bank supports the reforms taking place in Eastern Europe and is carrying out activities to ease the transition of the republics of the former USSR to market-oriented economies. These include a technical assistance programme, design of economic and sector work programmes and intensive development-training efforts in preparation for lending for reform programmes. It is a partner in Environmental Action Programme for Central and Eastern Europe (EAP) and organizes its own World Bank Baltic Sea Programme, providing investment and support to protection of the environment in the Baltic Sea region, assisting transition policies of national governments and creating a Baltic fund for the social sector.

To be eligible to apply for membership of the Bank a country must first be a member of IMF. However, while the IMF may lend to any member country lacking sufficient foreign currency to cover short-term obligations to creditors in other countries, the Bank may lend only to poor countries. From 1 Apr 1989, the World Bank requires IMF approval for some of its loans to developing countries.

The Bank is co-sponsor with FAO and UNDP of CGIAR System Organization (CGIAR), providing Chairman and Executive Secretariat. Together with UNDP and UNEP, it jointly manages Global Environment Facility (GEF). With UNDP and a number of bilateral donors, it runs the Energy Sector Management Assistance Programme (ESMAP) to increase use of natural gas in developing countries, help them devise sound energy strategies and make the necessary institutional and policy reforms to facilitate the transition. 'Foreign Investment Advisory Service (FIAS)' advises governments wanting to attract foreign direct investment. IBRD acts as Secretariat for and cooperates with governments and other international agencies in Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP); it functioned as a component of Urban Management Programme for Asia and the Pacific (UMPAP) through Metropolitan Environment Improvement Programme (MEIP).


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Relations with Inter-Governmental Organizations

Relations with 86 inter-governmental organizations.
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Relations with Non-Governmental Organizations

Relations with 10 non-governmental organizations.
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Information Services

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Members in 183 countries
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Type I Classification

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Type II Classification

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Subjects *

  • Commerce
    • Banking
  • Industry
    • Reconstruction
  • International Relations
    • United Nations
  • Development
    • Development

UN Sustainable Development Goals **

GOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic GrowthGOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure



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* Subject classification is derived from the organization names and aims.
** UN SDGs are linked to the subject classification.

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