Bretton Woods Project - Critical voices on the World Bank and IMF

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What is the Bretton Woods Project?


The Bretton Woods Project envisions a global economic system that operates on the primary principles of justice, equity, human rights and environmental sustainability, with international institutions that are democratic, transparent, accountable, and responsive to the poorest and most vulnerable citizens.


The project focuses on the World Bank and the IMF to challenge their power, open policy space, and promote alternative approaches. We do this because these institutions are influential funders, proponents and enforcers of economic and development policies, and global opinion formers.

We serve as an information provider, watchdog, networker and advocate. We provide information for the benefit of civil society groups, official institutions, research institutes, governments and parliaments across the world. The project acts as a network hub in the UK and works with civil society – in Europe and internationally – to change the Bank and the Fund.

Some priority areas include:

Bretton Woods Update example covers

Publications and services

The Bretton Woods Update is a bimonthly digest of key World Bank and IMF initiatives, controversial policy trends, projects and debate. The Update is read by over 10,000 key officials, journalists, NGOs and researchers and is respected as a reliable source of information on the Bretton Woods institutions. It is available on the web, in print or by email. The Update is also available electronically in Spanish.

Briefings and reports are produced to clarify issues in depth. To receive alerts when new briefings are published, see our subscription page.


Networking and information exchange among the wide range of people and organisations interested in the World Bank and IMF is one of the key functions of the Bretton Woods Project. We are a founding member of IFIWatchnet and are a supporting organisation of

In addition to NGOs, academics, parliamentarians, journalists and activists worldwide, the Project facilitates contacts with staff of the Bretton Woods institutions and decision-makers in aid ministries. It is often asked to advise NGOs in Europe, North America and the South on planning meetings, reports and campaigns. Many from governmental and intergovernmental organisations also contact the Bretton Woods Project for briefings or to find out about NGOs working on particular issues.

Organisational structure and origins

The Bretton Woods Project was established in 1995 by the Development and Environment Group (DEG), a network of UK-based NGOs, to facilitate monitoring of the social and environmental impacts of World Bank and IMF policies and projects. The Project coordinates and consults with the UK BWI network of over 50 organisations working in development, environment and human rights. The Bretton Woods Project Steering Group, meets on a regular basis to advise and review Project activities. The Project is funded by the NGOs in the UK BWI network, the CS Mott Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. Support is received from the European Union for a European civil society project on the impact of the financial sector on development, and for UK work in the Counterbalance coalition, which monitors the European Investment Bank. Under no circumstances should our work be regarded as reflecting the position of the European Union.

At present, the Bretton Woods Project is an ActionAid-hosted project (Registered charity no. 274467, Registered office: ActionAid, 33-39 Bowling Green Lane, London EC1R 0BJ, UK). For details of activities, support and expenses, please refer to the annual reports listed below:

Published: Friday 16th July 2010, last edited: Thursday 4th July 2013

Articles: 3465

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New website launched

You are now browsing an archive version of the Bretton Woods Project's website. This site has not been updated since September 2013, but may be used for reference material as the nbew site is being developed. However we suggest you look at the new website:

Recent briefings & reports

Memorandum to the International Development Committee: Inquiry on the Future of UK Development Cooperation  26 June 2013

The Doing Business review: a test of World Bank leadership 24 June 2013

Climate Investment Funds Monitor 7: April 2013  25 April 2013

Working paper: The private sector and climate change adaptation: International Finance Corporation investments under the Pilot Program for Climate Resilience  24 April 2013

The UK's role in the World Bank and IMF: Department for International Development and HM Treasury  13 March 2013

World Bank on jobs: a "significant departure" or "business as usual"? 13 February 2013

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