How can I find out about latest developments, news and events pertaining to the Bank's work with civil society?
A monthly electronic newsletter, Civil Society Engagement, containing useful information such as upcoming consultations, special events and new policy documents, is posted on the World Bank's Civil Society website. You can also subscribe to the newsletter by visiting the Newsletters page.
Why is the World Bank interested in working with Civil Society Organizations (CSOs)?
The World Bank has learned through two decades of interaction that CSOs can play an important role in helping to amplify the voices of the poorest people in the decisions that affect their lives, improve development effectiveness and sustainability, and hold governments and policymakers publicly accountable. The participation of CSOs in World Bank-financed projects can enhance operational performance and sustainability by contributing local knowledge, technical expertise, and social legitimacy. CSOs can also bring innovative ideas and solutions as well as participatory approaches to solve local problems.
Does the Bank consult with civil society on policies and programs?
The World Bank consults widely with CSOs on new policies such as governance, information disclosure, and climate change. It also consults on its strategies and research, such as sector strategies (i.e. agriculture, health), and on its major studies such as the annual World Development Reports. At the country level, the Bank consults civil society on its Country Assistance Strategies and individual projects when relevant. For information on ongoing consultations visit our civil society website.
How can CSOs get involved in World Bank-supported projects?
CSOs are increasingly involved in Bank-financed projects in such areas as AIDS prevention, environmental protection, education, and even in macro-economic reform. CSO participation is occurring throughout the project cycle from the design and planning stages, to implementation and monitoring. The World Bank produces a biannual Review on the Bank's Relations with CSOs on a regular basis which provides statistics on CSO involvement in Bank operations, as well as examples of World Bank/CSO collaboration. Copies of the reports are available for downloading on the Bank's Civil Society website.
While the World Bank’s principal activity is to provide loans to governments, it has established numerous funding mechanisms over the past two decades to provide grants to CSOs. Grants are being provided either indirectly via government-run grant funds with Bank financing or directly by World Bank-managed funding mechanisms. An estimated 10% of the Bank’s annual funding portfolio, or $2 billion US dollars, is channeled to government-operated Community-Driven Development projects or social funds, which provide grants to CSOs to rebuild war-torn communities, provide social services, and strengthen community organizations. There are also several grant mechanisms managed by the World Bank – often in partnership with other donor agencies -- which provide grants directly to CSOs in a variety of areas such as environment, micro-credit, civic engagement, and innovative approaches. For more information on these grant funds visit the funding section of the World Bank's Civil Society website.
Does the World Bank have any training programs available for CSOs?
The World Bank believes that learning and capacity building for all development stakeholders is vital to the success of its lending programs. The World Bank Institute (WBI) offers more than 800 learning courses annually on a wide variety of issues related to development which are available to government officials and in some cases to CSO representatives. The Civil Society Team provides orientation sessions on the Bank jointly with CSO networks and during the Annual and Spring Meetings. To learn more about the WBI’s and other training programs offered by the Bank, visit the training section of the World Bank's Civil Society website.
Does the World Bank have social safeguard and compliance mechanisms?
Yes, the World Bank has 10 social and environmental safeguard policies which ensure that the Bank follow the most current practices related to promoting socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable development. The IFC has adopted performance standards which ensure similar practices related to its private sector investments. The World Bank Group (WBG) has also established two semi-independent compliance mechanisms in order to ensure that the safeguard policies and performance standards are adhered to in its financed projects. The Inspection Panel was established in 1993 to provide an independent forum for private citizens who believe that they or their interests have been, or could be, directly harmed by a project financed by the World Bank. For a description of these requests and information on which ones were investigated by the Panel, please visit: http://www.worldbank.org/inspectionpanel. The International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Association (MIGA) established the Compliance Advisor/Ombudsman Office (CAO) in 2000. In addition to auditing IFC and MIGA’s compliance with environmental and social safeguard policies, it also carries out an ombudsman role by attempting to mediate disputes between companies, governments, and CSOs. For more information on the CAO, please visit: http://www.ifc.org/cao.
How can I access information on World Bank policies and copies of World Bank documents?
The World Bank Policy on Access to Information sets forth a groundbreaking change in how the World Bank makes information available to the public. Now the public can get more information than ever before: information about projects under preparation, projects under implementation, analytic and advisory activities, and Board proceedings. For accessing printed versions of Bank documents, the Bank operates the InfoShop. The InfoShop is located in Washington, D.C. It houses all public World Bank documents and publications. Many of the publications are available at cost and others are free of charge, and many of the latter can also be downloaded from the Infoshop website:
The World Bank has also established Public Information Centers (PICs) in more than 80 countries worldwide, which can be visited in person, or inquiries made by phone or via email. Each PIC serves as the central contact in the country for persons seeking to obtain World Bank documents and information on Bank operations. PICs are located adjacent to World Bank offices or in universities or other accessible sites, usually in capital cities around the world. Please note that World Bank documents related to a specific country are available free of charge to citizens of that country.
Contacting the right individual can be time consuming. In order to help point you in the right direction, try these steps:
For CSOs located in developing countries, it is best to make direct contact with the relevant country or regional office. Most World Bank country offices have Civil Society Focal Points or other External Affairs staff who can provide information on current policy consultations as well as opportunities for operational collaboration: country-based civil society focal points
For CSO representatives planning on visiting the World Bank in Washington, it is best to know how your interest corresponds with the Bank's organizational structure. If your interest is in a specific country or region, it is best to contact civil society focal points who work within those regions, networks, and other units at headquarters: Washington-based civil society focal points