The World Bank's official goal is the reduction of poverty. According to the World Bank's Articles of Agreement (as amended effective 16 February 1989), all of its decisions must be guided by a commitment to promote foreign investment, international trade, and facilitate capital investment.
The World Bank differs from the World Bank Group, in that the World Bank comprises only two institutions: the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the International Development Association (IDA), whereas the latter incorporates these two in addition to three more: International Finance Corporation (IFC), Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), and International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).
 HistoryBretton Woods Conference in 1944. The International Monetary Fund (IMF), a related institution, is another. Delegates from many countries attended the Bretton Woods Conference. The most powerful countries in attendance were the United States and United Kingdom, which dominated negotiations.:52-54
Although both are based in Washington, D.C., the World Bank is traditionally headed by a citizen of the United States while the IMF is led by a European citizen.
 1944–1968From its conception until 1965, the bank undertook a relatively low level of lending. Fiscal conservatism and careful screening of loan applications was common. Bank staff attempted to balance the priorities of providing loans for reconstruction and development with the need to instill confidence in the bank.:56-60
Bank president John McCloy selected France to be the first recipient of the World Bank aid; two other applications from Poland and Chile were rejected. The loan was for US$250 million, half the amount requested and came with strict conditions. Staff from the World Bank monitored the use of the funds, ensuring that the French government would present a balanced budget and give priority of debt repayment to the World Bank over other governments. The United States State Department told the French government that communist elements within the Cabinet needed to be removed. The French government complied with this diktat and removed the Communist coalition government. Within hours, the loan to France was approved.:288, 290-291
The Marshall Plan of 1947 caused lending by the bank to change as many European countries received aid that competed with World Bank loans. Emphasis was shifted to non-European countries; and, until 1968, loans were earmarked for projects that would enable a borrower country to repay loans (such projects as ports, highway systems, and power plants).
 1968–1980From 1968 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.
These changes can be attributed to Robert McNamara who was appointed to the presidency in 1968 by Lyndon B. Johnson.:60-63 McNamara imported a technocratic managerial style to the Bank that he had used as United States Secretary of Defense and President of the Ford Motor Company.:62 McNamara shifted bank policy toward measures such as building schools and hospitals, improving literacy and agricultural reform. McNamara created a new system of gathering information from potential borrower nations that enabled the bank to process loan applications much faster. To finance more loans, McNamara told bank treasurer Eugene Rotberg to seek out new sources of capital outside of the northern banks that had been the primary sources of bank funding. Rotberg used the global bond market to increase the capital available to the bank. 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%.
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.
|The neutrality of this article is disputed. (May 2011)|
Lending to service third world debt marked the period of 1980–1989. Structural adjustment policies aimed at streamlining the economies of developing nations were also a large part of World Bank policy during this period. UNICEF reported in the late 1980s that the structural adjustment programs of the World Bank were responsible for the "reduced health, nutritional and educational levels for tens of millions of children in Asia, Latin America, and Africa".
 1989–presentFrom 1989, World Bank policy changed in response to criticism from many groups. Environmental groups and NGOs were incorporated in the lending of the bank in order to mitigate the effects of the past that prompted such harsh criticism.:93-97
World Bank in accordance with its Six Strategic themes has taken more various policies into effect since 1989 up until today. It has taken various policies to preserve the environment while promoting development. In 1989, World Bank named an implementing agency in Montreal protocols to stop the ozone damage with the target of 95% phase-out of substances that deplete the ozone layer by 2015. Moreover, in order to prevent deforestation especially the Amazon, announced that it would not finance any commercial logging or infrastructure projects that do harm to the environment in 1991.
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 World Bank announced a “war on AIDS”, and in 2011, the Bank joined the Stop Tuberculosis Partnership.
Traditionally, and due to tacit agreement between the United States and Europe, the U.S. has always chosen the President of the World Bank. In 2012, for the first time, there are two candidates nominated for the presidency of the World Bank who are not from the United States.
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.
 CriteriaMany achievements have brought the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 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 and better aid, movement on trade negotiations, and stronger and more focused support from multilateral institutions like the World Bank.
- 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.
- Achieve Universal Primary Education: The number 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.
- 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.
- Reduce Child Mortality: There is some what 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
 LeadershipThe President of the Bank, currently Jim Yong Kim, is responsible for chairing the meetings of the Boards of Directors and for overall management of the Bank. Traditionally, the Bank President has always been a US citizen nominated by the United States, the largest shareholder in the bank. 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.
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.
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.
 List of Presidents
|Eugene Meyer||1946–1946||United States||Newspaper publisher|
|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||US Defense Secretary, business executive with Ford Motor Company|
|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|
|Sir James Wolfensohn||1995–2005|| United States|
|Corporate lawyer and banker|
|Paul Wolfowitz||2005–2007||United States||Various cabinet and government positions; US Ambassador to Indonesia, US Deputy Secretary of Defense|
|Robert Zoellick||2007–2012||United States||Bank executive with Goldman Sachs, Deputy Secretary of State and US Trade Representative|
|Jim Yong Kim||2012–present|| Korea Republic|
|Korean-American physician and anthropologist, co-founder of Partners in Health and 17th President of Dartmouth College. Elected on 16 April 2012.|
 List of chief economists
- Hollis B. Chenery (1972–1982)
- Anne Osborn Krueger (1982–1986)
- Stanley Fischer (1988–1990)
- Lawrence Summers (1991–1993)
- Michael Bruno (1993–1996)
- Joseph E. Stiglitz (1997–2000)
- Nicholas Stern (2000–2003)
- François Bourguignon (2003–2007)
- Justin Yifu Lin (June 2008–2012 )
- Kaushik Basu (September 2012-)
 MembersThe International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) has 188 member countries, while the International Development Association (IDA) has 172 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).
 Voting powerIn 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%). 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 poor countries such as Nigeria. The voting powers of the United States, Russia and Saudi Arabia were unchanged.
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.
 Poverty reduction strategiesFor 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".
 Global Partnerships and InitiativesThe 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.
Together with the WHO, 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 2012Report 2012: Even with the current mitigation commitments and pledges fully implemented, there is roughly a 20 percent likelihood of exceeding 4°C by 2100. A series of recent extreme events worldwide highlight the vulnerability of all countries. No nation will be immune to the impacts of climate change. The global community has committed itself to holding warming below 2°C to prevent “dangerous” climate change. World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim(2012): "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. 4°C warmer world can, and must be, avoided – we need to hold warming below 2°C. Lack of action on climate change threatens to make the world our children inherit a completely different world than we are living in today".
 Training wings
 World Bank InstituteThe 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) can be defined as 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 (EDI), established on March 11, 1955 with the support of the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations. The purpose of the institute was to serve as provide an open place where senior officials from developing countries could discuss development policies and programs. Over the years, EDI grew significantly and in 2000, the Institute was renamed as the World Bank Institute. Currently Sanjay Pradhan is the Vice President of the World Bank Institute.
 Global Development Learning NetworkThe Global Development Learning Network (GDLN) is a partnership of over 120 learning centers (GDLN Affiliates) in nearly 80 countries around the world. GDLN Affiliates collaborate in holding events that connect people across countries and regions for learning and dialogue on development issues.
GDLN clients are typically NGOs, government, private sector and development agencies who find that they work better together on subregional, regional or global development issues using the facilities and tools offered by GDLN Affiliates. Clients also benefit from the ability of Affiliates to help them choose and apply these tools effectively, and to tap development practitioners and experts worldwide. GDLN Affiliates facilitate around 1000 videoconference-based activities a year on behalf of their clients, reaching some 90,000 people worldwide. Most of these activities bring together participants in two or more countries over a series of sessions. A majority of GDLN activities are organized by small government agencies and NGOs.
 GDLN Asia PacificThe GDLN in the East Asia and Pacific region has experienced rapid growth and Distance Learning Centers now operate, or are planned in 20 countries: Australia, Mongolia, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Singapore, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Japan, Papua New Guinea, South Korea, Thailand, Laos, Timor Leste, Fiji, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal and New Zealand. With over 180 Distance Learning Centers, it is the largest development learning network in the Asia and Pacific region. The Secretariat Office of GDLN Asia Pacific is located in the Center of Academic Resources of Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand.
GDLN Asia Pacific was launched at the GDLN’s East Asia and Pacific regional meeting held in Bangkok from 22 to 24 May 2006. Its vision is to become “the premier network exchanging ideas, experience and know-how across the Asia Pacific Region”. GDLN Asia Pacific is a separate entity to The World Bank. It has endorsed its own Charter and Business Plan and, in accordance with the Charter, a GDLN Asia Pacific Governing Committee has been appointed.
The committee comprises China (2), Australia (1), Thailand (1), The World Bank (1) and finally, a nominee of the Government of Japan (1). The organization is currently hosted by Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand, founding member of the GDLN Asia Pacific.
The Governing Committee has determined that the most appropriate legal status for the GDLN AP in Thailand is a “Foundation”. The World Bank is currently engaging a solicitor in Thailand to process all documentation in order to obtain this legal status.
GDLN Asia Pacific is built on the principle of shared resources among partners engaged in a common task, and this is visible in the organizational structures that exist, as the network evolves. Physical space for its headquarters is provided by the host of the GDLN Centre in Thailand – Chulalongkorn University; Technical expertise and some infrastructure is provided by the Tokyo Development Learning Centre (TDLC); Fiduciary services are provided by Australian National University (ANU) Until the GDLN Asia Pacific is established as a legal entity tin Thailand, ANU, has offered to assist the governing committee, by providing a means of managing the inflow and outflow of funds and of reporting on them. This admittedly results in some complexity in contracting arrangements, which need to be worked out on a case by case basis and depends to some extent on the legal requirements of the countries involved.
 Country assistance strategiesAs a guideline to the World Bank's operations in any particular country, a Country Assistance Strategy is produced, in cooperation with the local government and any interested stakeholders and may rely on analytical work performed by the Bank or other parties.
 Clean Air InitiativeClean Air Initiative (CAI) is a World Bank initiative to advance innovative ways to improve air quality in cities through partnerships in selected regions of the world by sharing knowledge and experiences. It includes electric vehicles.
 United Nations Development BusinessBased on an agreement between the United Nations and the World Bank in 1981, Development Business became the official source for World Bank Procurement Notices, Contract Awards, and Project Approvals.
In 1998, the agreement was re-negotiated, and included in this agreement was a joint venture to create an electronic version of the publication via the World Wide Web. Today, Development Business is the primary publication for all major multilateral development banks, United Nations agencies, and several national governments, many of whom have made the publication of their tenders and contracts in Development Business a mandatory requirement.
The World Bank or the World Bank Group is also a sitting observer in the United Nations Development Group.
 Open Data initiativeThe World Bank collects and processes large amounts of data and generates them on the basis of economic models. These data and models have gradually been made available to the public in a way that encourages reuse, whereas the recent publications describing them are available as open access under a Creative Commons Attribution License, for which the bank received the SPARC Innovator 2012 award.
 CriticismsThe World Bank has long been criticized by non-governmental organizations, such as the indigenous rights group Survival International, and academics, including its former Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz, Henry Hazlitt and Ludwig Von Mises. Henry Hazlitt argued that the World Bank along with the monetary system it was designed within would promote world inflation and "a world in which international trade is State-dominated" when they were being advocated. Stiglitz argue that the so-called free market reform policies which the Bank advocates are often harmful to economic development if implemented badly, too quickly ("shock therapy"), in the wrong sequence or in weak, uncompetitive economies.
One of the strongest criticisms of the World Bank has been the way in which it is governed. While the World Bank represents 186 countries, it is run by a small number of economically powerful countries. These countries (which also provide most of the institution's funding) choose the leadership and senior management of the World Bank, and so their interests dominate the bank.:190 Titus Alexander argues that the unequal voting power of western countries and the World Bank's role in developing countries makes it similar to the South African Development Bank under apartheid, and therefore a pillar of global apartheid.:133-141
In the 1990s, the World Bank and the IMF forged the Washington Consensus, policies which included deregulation and liberalization of markets, privatization and the downscaling of government. Though the Washington Consensus was conceived as a policy that would best promote development, it was criticized for ignoring equity, employment and how reforms like privatization were carried out. Joseph Stiglitz argued that the Washington Consensus placed too much emphasis on the growth of GDP, and not enough on the permanence of growth or on whether growth contributed to better living standards.:17
The United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations report criticized the World Bank and other international financial institutions for focusing too much "on issuing loans rather than on achieving concrete development results within a finite period of time" and called on the institution to "strengthen anti-corruption efforts".
Criticism of the World Bank often takes the form of protesting as seen in recent events such as the World Bank Oslo 2002 Protests, the October Rebellion, and the Battle of Seattle. Such demonstrations have occurred all over the world, even amongst the Brazilian Kayapo people.
Another source of criticism has been the tradition of having an American head the bank, implemented because the United States provides the majority of World Bank funding. "When economists from the World Bank visit poor countries to dispense cash and advice," observed The Economist, as Jim Yong Kim said in 2012, "they routinely tell governments to reject cronyism and fill each important job with the best candidate available. It is good advice. The World Bank should take it." Jim Yong Kim is the most recently appointed president of the World Bank.
 Structural adjustmentThe effect of structural adjustment policies on poor countries has been one of the most significant criticisms of the World Bank. The 1979 energy crisis plunged many countries into economic crisis.:68 The World Bank responded with structural adjustment loans which distributed aid to struggling countries while enforcing policy changes in order to reduce inflation and fiscal imbalance. Some of these policies included encouraging production, investment and labour-intensive manufacturing, changing real exchange rates and altering the distribution of government resources. Structural adjustment policies were most effective in countries with an institutional framework that allowed these policies to be implemented easily. For some countries, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, economic growth regressed and inflation worsened. The alleviation of poverty was not a goal of structural adjustment loans, and the circumstances of the poor often worsened, due to a reduction in social spending and an increase in the price of food, as subsidies were lifted.:69
By the late 1980s, international organizations began to admit that structural adjustment policies were worsening life for the world's poor. The World Bank changed structural adjustment loans, allowing for social spending to be maintained, and encouraging a slower change to policies such as transfer of subsidies and price rises.:70 In 1999, the World Bank and the IMF introduced the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper approach to replace structural adjustment loans.:147 The Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper approach has been interpreted as an extension of structural adjustment policies as it continues to reinforce and legitimize global inequities. Neither approach has addressed the inherent flaws within the global economy that contribute to economic and social inequities within developing countries.:152 By reinforcing the relationship between lending and client states, many believe that the World Bank has usurped indebted countries' power to determine their own economic policy.
 Sovereign immunityThe World Bank requires sovereign immunity from countries it deals with. Sovereign immunity waives a holder from all legal liability for their actions. It is proposed that this immunity from responsibility is a "shield which [The World Bank] wants to resort to, for escaping accountability and security by the people." As the United States has veto power, it can prevent the World Bank from taking action against its interests.
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- The World Bank President is traditionally an American citizen. Wolfensohn was a naturalised American citizen before taking office.
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