Bretton Woods Project

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The Bretton Woods Project is a UK-based NGO that challenges the World Bank and IMF and promotes alternative approaches. We serve as an information provider, watchdog, networker and advocate. Our flagship publications are the Bretton Woods Observer, a quarterly critical review of developments at the World Bank and IMF, and the Bretton Woods Bulletin, an online update of news and action on the institutions.

The Bretton Woods Project is an ActionAid-hosted project (UK registered charity no. 274467).

The Bretton Woods Project works as a networker, information-provider, media informant and watchdog to scrutinise and influence the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Through briefings, reports and the bimonthly digest Bretton Woods Update, it monitors projects, policy reforms and the overall management of the Bretton Woods institutions with special emphasis on environmental and social concerns.

Created as an independent initiative by a group of British non-governmental organisations, it works with an extensive network to press for increased transparency and civil society participation in World Bank and IMF policies and interventions. This includes over 7000 non-governmental organisations, policy-makers, journalists, researchers and parliamentarians worldwide.

By encouraging information exchange and debate, it seeks to move the Bretton Woods institutions away from simplistic approaches to development. Priority areas include:


  • Mar.13.2013: The UK’s role in the World Bank and IMF. The UK’s policy lines on World Bank and IMF issues are formally decided by the Department for International Development (DFID) and the Treasury, respectively. Within DFID, the International Financial Institutions department (IFID) leads in devising the organisation’s position on these institutions (see below). In the Treasury, the International Finance department is responsible for preparing advice on the policy issues and specific country programmes brought before the Board of Directors in Washington. The top UK representatives at the IMF and World Bank are the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond MP, and Secretary of State for International Development, Priti Patel MP. The UK is the 4th-largest shareholder in both the World Bank and the IMF, holding 4.3% and 4.8% of votes, respectively. For comparison, the US is by far the largest shareholder with 16.4% and 16.85% vote shares, respectively. Following completion of the latest round of funding for the World Bank’s International Development Association, the UK will be the single largest donor to the World Bank.Very good description of the inner workings. Bretton Woods Project.
  • Apr.2014: Follow the money: The World Bank Group and the use of financial intermediaries. Just 5 years after a major international financial crisis the financial sector is now the largest beneficiary of World Bank Group] investment. A push for channelling money through the private financial sector is occurring despite the failures of the financial systems of US and European countries in the last five years. While the World Bank and its private sector arm the International Financial Corporation (IFC) are leaders in this area, they are not the only public institutions that promote financial deepening or provide finance to the private financial sector in developing countries. A host of development finance institutions now operate in this fashion, including Brazil’s Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social (BNDES) and the China Development Bank. The UN’s Green Climate Fund plans to use this model. It is also likely the new development bank being proposed by Brazil, Russia, China, India and South Africa (BRICS) will use this method. infographic Bretton Woods Project.