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The World Bank Group and Sustainable Energy

The World Bank in a Nutshell
The World Bank Group is a vital source of financial and technical assistance to developing countries around the world...but what does that have to do with sustainable energy?

The World Bank is not a bank per se; it is one of the world's largest development institutions, owned by 186 member countries.

It acts like a bank -- it provides low-interest loans and interest-free credit to developing countries for a wide array of purposes, including the construction of electricity generation.

It also acts like an NGO, issuing grants for education, health, public administration, infrastructure, financial and private sector development, agriculture, and environmental and natural resource management.

The World Bank Group was profitable in the fiscal year ended June 30, 2009, with net income of $3.1 billion.

The Group is comprised primarily of two development institutions: the IBRD and the IDA.

The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) is what most people refer to when they say "the World Bank." It aims to reduce poverty in middle-income and creditworthy poorer countries. It lent US $32.9 billion in fiscal 2009 for 126 new projects. This amount represented half of the World Bank Group's financial activities in dollar terms, and was more than double that of any of the preceding four years.

The International Development Association (IDA) focuses on the world's poorest countries. It committed $14 billion in fiscal 2009 for 176 new projects, more than half of it in Africa.

Thirteen percent of the combined commitments of IBRD and IDA in fiscal 2009 -- $6.3 billion -- were for energy and mining projects. Another 13 percent were for transportation projects, of which 47% were in Europe and Central Asia.

World Bank Energy Financing graph -- please credit EnergyPriorities.com

World Bank Group energy sector financing by category, in 2007 US dollars.

The work of IBRD and IDA is complemented by that of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) and the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), all part of the World Bank Group.

The United States is IBRD's largest shareholder. The total U.S. capital subscription (the maximum obligated amount that can be called) is $31.9 billion, of which $2 billion was called in 2009. Japan, Germany, France and the United Kingdom make up the rest of the top five Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) shareholders in IBRD ranked by capital subscription.

IBRD diversifies its sources of funding by offering its securities and bonds to institutional and retail investors around the world.

World Bank Annual Report 2009 and full financial statements; Bank Information Center.


I would appreciate finding out if the following IF/THEN statement is or is not true. Should it be, it is my hope that others who are capable of such and similar philanthropic feats of daring-do, would dare to do.

IF: Somebody thought it a good idea to help Haiti by building enough biofuel production capacity to transform the poorest country in the western hemisphere into a noteworthy and prospering biofuels exporter...

THEN: The IDA section of the World Bank is where that person would go to seek funding for such a national transformation by a number of financial mechanisms?

Since we no longer have to hunt for oil, why not make some of it in Haiti?