Transforming the Bank’s Knowledge Agenda
Knowledge has never been more important to the Bank’s mission than it is today. Development issues have moved to center stage following the food, fuel, and financial crises; many of the major global challenges—climate change, food security, the spread of communicable diseases, conflict—are increasingly being viewed through a development lens; and collective action has become critical to achieving progress toward shared development goals. All of these changes have increased the importance of knowledge platforms for sharing experiences and new ideas.
The Bank’s clients are seeking a Bank that is not only a source for the best development knowledge but also the broker of the best knowledge and innovation from across the world. They are seeking a Bank that can adapt these inputs to local conditions, a Bank that is more responsive to client needs and more flexible in providing advice.
To meet these client demands—and reflect the growing importance of the knowledge agenda— the Bank’s Board endorsed a new knowledge strategy in March 2010. The strategy seeks to achieve improvements in three main areas:
- Global technical practices: Strengthening technical excellence, mobility, and responsiveness to country clients and improving team collaboration, especially on cross-sectoral issues
- Knowledge products: Managing the Bank’s knowledge portfolio for maximum impact by improving flexibility, strengthening the strategic focus, identifying synergies, and leveraging external knowledge
- Knowledge connector: Positioning the Bank as an institution that is open to new ideas and provides platforms for debates, leads development thinking, and fully embraces a collaborative culture both within the institution and with partners.
To achieve these goals, the Bank will need to create a cohesive knowledge architecture, with systems, incentives, and processes to enable capture, storage, collaboration, and use of both formal and tacit knowledge and enhance the ability of front line staff to draw on all of the knowledge that the institution generates. It will need to put in place governance mechanisms to actively manage the knowledge portfolio, strengthen strategic directions, and provide funding for change and key priorities.
The Bank will implement the new knowledge strategy through a series of core programs. These programs include global expert teams, senior technical experts, and a World Bank Fellows program for global thought leaders; promotion of innovation and cross-sectoral initiatives; support for critical South-South exchanges; and the launch of a few broad knowledge platforms on key development challenges. (See http://wbi.worldbank.org/wbi.)
Economic and Sector Work and Nonlending Technical Assistance
The Bank delivered 484 economic and sector activities (ESW) and 607 nonlending technical assistance (TA) activities this fiscal year. These activities provided the basis for the Bank’s policy dialogue with clients, assisted in the development of country strategies, facilitated client capacity building, and provided upstream analysis for the Bank’s lending programs.
In terms of sectoral coverage, law and justice and public administration, followed by finance, represented the main focus of ESW and TA activities. About 55 percent of these activities were coordinated with development partners and/or clients. Increasingly, the Bank is responding to the changing needs of middle-income countries, providing services separately or bundled with lending programs. In fiscal 2010, 43 percent of the total ESW and TA activities were carried out in middle-income countries, up from 40 percent last fiscal year.
Sector Strategy Development
Fiscal 2010 saw the delivery of two sector strategy documents. The Board of Executive Directors considered a new Urban and Local Government Strategy, which aims to work with developing countries as they take advantage of the economic opportunities associated with rapid urbanization. It also considered a midcycle progress report on the Water Resources Sector Strategy, which seeks to provide tailored assistance to client countries to improve water resources management and enhance water services. In addition the Mid-Term Review of the Strategic Framework on Development and Climate Change, which summarized implementation progress since the endorsement of the framework and outlined directions for the remaining period, was discussed in fiscal 2010.
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The World Bank Institute
The World Bank Institute (WBI) works with global, regional, and country-based leaders, institutions, and coalitions of stakeholders to find solutions to the development challenges of climate change, fragile and conflict-affected situations, governance, growth and crisis, health system strengthening, public-private partnership, and urban development. It offers courses and conferences, platforms to facilitate knowledge exchange among countries, and support for solutions.
Credit: Michele Egan
Preparing for Climate Change
In November the Development Marketplace 2009 hosted 100 innovators, many from indigenous communities, who shared their ideas and projects for helping local communities become climate resilient. Twenty-six winners received grants of up to $200,000 each to further develop and test their innovations. WBI is working with finalists and winners to disseminate their work more widely.
Some 3,000 participants from 110 countries and 240 exhibitors attended the carbon market's leading global trade fair and conference for emission trading, carbon abatement solutions, and new mitigation technologies in Cologne in May. WBI is one of the conference’s sponsors; participants at the three-day conference discussed international emissions trading, trends and developments in the carbon markets, project finance, and barriers to carbon mitigation.
Building Capacity in Fragile and Conflict-Affected States
WBI cohosted a seminar on “Building Capacity in Conflict-Affected Countries in Africa: Multi-Stakeholder Perspectives” during the World Bank’s Annual Meetings in October 2009. Panelists discussed the role of leaders; building coalitions for change; short- and long-term needs, tensions, and trade-offs; and the contribution of development partners.
WBI launched a program on Collaborative Leadership for Development Impact for 19 emerging leaders from six economies. Haiti, Kenya, Kosovo, Liberia, South Sudan, and the Republic of Yemen to help develop their skills to bring about change and lead key reforms.They learned about adaptive leadership, political-economy mapping, coalition-building and collaborative strategies, and results-based action planning.
WBI addressed key issues affecting fragile and conflict-affected states in the October 2009 issue of Development Outreach Magazine, a monthly Bank flagship publication. The issue addressed such questions as how donors can help governments make informed choices without interfering politically or overwhelming local efforts.
Supporting Effective and Accountable Governance
WBI worked with the Affiliated Networks for Social Accountability in Africa, East Asia and Pacific, and South Asia to help civil society organizations monitor the effects of procurement reforms and support citizens’ demand for public accountability. In Africa and South Asia, it helped government officials, civil society practitioners, the media, academics, the private sector, and donors promote access to information for more transparent and inclusive governance. Stakeholders shared good practices and identified priority actions, such as promoting transparent governance in the extractive industries, using new technologies for better access to information, and proactively disclosing information.
WBI’s parliamentary strengthening program develops parliamentary performance indicators and benchmarks for use by parliaments, multilateral development institutions, and bilateral donors. In cooperation with the United Nations Development Programme, WBI cohosted the International Conference on Benchmarking and Self-Assessment for Democratic Legislatures last March. Participants identified internationally accepted indicators and tools for assessing and benchmarking parliamentary performance.
Credit: The World Bank
Sharing Knowledge on Economic Policy after the Crisis
To help countries assess their policies in the wake of the economic and financial crisis, WBI held a series of groundbreaking debates on export competitiveness, connecting policy makers and experts in Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Zambia in person and through video. This high-level knowledge exchange explored workable strategies for growth and development in a postcrisis global economy. The debate, followed by country-specific action planning workshops, focused on enhancing economic diversification in Sub-Saharan Africa and fostering better integration of the region into the global economy.
The first global-level debate on Development Challenges in a Post Crisis World was delivered at the Annual Bank Conference on Development Economics, or ABCDE, in Stockholm. The webcast debate organized by the World Bank Institute and the Banks’ Development Economics group, featured three Nobel Laureates, Robert Solow, James Mirrlees, and Eric Maskin. The experts explored the implications of short-term policies to stimulate growth, while acknowledging that the longer-term issues of poverty reduction and climate change should not be neglected.
Strengthening Health Systems
Through its flagship course on health sector reform and sustainable financing, WBI’s health systems strengthening practice develops learning materials with partner institutions worldwide, adapting learning to regional and local needs. The three-week course presents intensive, state-of-the-art knowledge on options for health sector development, including lessons learned and best practices from country experience. This year’s course, delivered in Washington D.C. in October 2009 in partnership with Harvard University’s School of Public Health, drew 50 people from the public and private sectors of 15 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and East Asia and Pacific.
At the request of the Chinese authorities, and with the World Health Organization and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, WBI cosponsored an International Roundtable on China-Africa Health Collaboration, organized by the Institute for Global Health at Peking University. Senior officials from China, Africa, international organizations, and other global experts discussed Africa’s health system needs, dynamics, performance, and international experience in delivering health assistance to Africa.
A South-South knowledge and experience exchange activity on Result-Based Financing (RBF) in Health Systems was held through the Global Development Learning Network. RBF practitioners from Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Niger, and Senegal exchanged information and experiences on implementation issues and challenges.
Promoting Public–Private Partnership
Public–private partnership (PPP) is an important tool for the efficient delivery of public services— provided that governments have the skills to oversee and manage contracts. A growing PPP community of practice meets every year to exchange knowledge and innovative ideas. This fiscal year WBI held learning forums in francophone Africa, the Caribbean, Eastern Europe, and Asia to foster regional PPP practitioner networks. Participants will continue their conversations through an online peer learning platform.
Advancing Sustainable Urban Development
WBI is a global connector of good practice and innovation in city managements, urban services for the poor, disaster risk management, and urban water services. Through learning programs and South-South exchanges, it connects urban practitioners, including mayors, all over the world. In June, for example, mayors from Brazil, the Philippines, Senegal, Tanzania, and Vietnam participated in a live webcast on “Cities as Engines of Economic Growth: Enhancing the Subnational Investment Climate,” available on the WBI Web site.
The Global Development Learning Network
The Global Development Learning Network (GDLN) is a partnership of more than 120 learning centers in 80 countries that designs customized learning solutions for individuals, teams, and organizations to help them communicate; share specialized knowledge; and learn from one another’s experiences in a timely and cost-effective manner. The GDLN hosted more than 800 learning events in fiscal 2010, connecting people in government agencies, private sector entities, academia, and nongovernmental organizations around the world. (See www.gdln.org.)
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Global Expert Teams
Credit: Arne Hoel
Global Expert Teams (GETs)—small teams of top-level experts—intervene across the world in areas of high strategic relevance to the World Bank Group and its clients, in order to ensure that the best global knowledge (internal and external) is deployed quickly and flexibly in response to client needs. The teams help capture and disseminate practical knowledge to the broader community and clients and groom the next generation of practice leaders. Since their launch in 2009, GETs have significantly improved the quality of operational engagements.
This fiscal year GETs provided support to clients and teams across the world. The disaster risk management GET supported the government of Haiti by sharing good practice advice and developing options for postdisaster recovery. The health systems GET brought together health insurance practitioners from six countries in response to the increasing demand for cross learning and joint problem solving by countries pursuing similar reforms. It also provided significant input to a workshop held in Delhi, India, that focused on the nuts and bolts of implementation. The public sector performance GET held a brainstorming session to help guide the Bangladesh country team in implementing a public financial management program. Participants discussed sequencing reforms; balancing technical, supply-driven reform with demand-generating activities; and building capacity. The public-private partnership GET increased its interventions in Africa by more than 40 percent. Its activities included helping develop the North-South Corridor to increase the trade and transport capacity of several countries in southern Africa by improving the corridors that link them to the ports of Tanzania and South Africa. The government of Mongolia was assisted by FC GET with plans for closing a systemically important bank, by setting up a bridge bank (now called State Bank) and worked with authorities on planning for possible additional bank failures. The FC GET reviewed bank-by-bank special audit reports and met with government officials on possible bank restructuring plans. It also advised on possible changes to blanket deposit insurance guarantees and design of new limited deposit insurance systems. An external evaluation of the GETs is currently being undertaken at the request of Bank management. The aim of this evaluation is to identify lessons learned and streamline the GETs in the long term.
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Credit: Arne Hoel
This fiscal year much of the work by the Bank’s research group focused on the causes of the global financial crisis, the likely impact on poverty and human development, and appropriate policy responses. The research reviewed successes and failures in policy responses to past crises and identified concrete actions—including actions for protecting the poor—that developing countries can take to address the crisis without damaging long-term development prospects.
Core research programs continued to study long-term growth, poverty reduction, inequality, climate change, energy, agriculture, land governance, development finance, conflict, international migration, trade reform, and health care services. Country-specific and comparative research spanned 43 developing countries, documented in 13 books, 57 book chapters, 140 journal articles, and 179 working papers. New and updated datasets in fiscal 2010 helped users monitor poverty and inequality, evaluate public programs, assess trade and financial regulations, measure governance, model sea-level rise and storm surges, and track the impact of the financial crisis on exports.
(See econ.worldbank.org/research and the online resources identified below.)
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Credit: Arne Hoel
The Development Data Group (DECDG) coordinates statistical and data work within the World Bank and maintains a number of macro, financial, and sector databases. These databases are used to prepare Country Assistance Strategies, poverty assessments, research studies, and other forms of economic and sector work. Guided by professional standards in the collection, compilation, and dissemination of data, DECDG ensures that all data users can have confidence in the quality and integrity of the data produced.
The quality of global data depends on the quality of statistics provided by national systems. The World Bank, and especially the Data Group, works to help developing countries improve the capacity, efficiency, and effectiveness of their national statistical systems.
DECDG manages several programs to improve the capacity of statistical systems in developing countries, including the Trust Fund for Statistical Capacity Building, and STATCAP, a lending program to finance investments on statistical systems.
DECDG also coordinates the International Comparison Program, a worldwide statistical partnership to collect comparative price data and compile detailed expenditure values of countries’ gross domestic products, and to estimate purchasing power parities for the world’s economies.
This year the Bank launched a new Web site, data.worldbank.org, as part of the Open Data Initiative. The Web site makes World Bank data open, accessible, and searchable, and it allows anyone in the world to access World Bank data that was once available only to subscribers. Users can easily find, download, manipulate, use, and redistribute the data compiled by the World Bank.
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