Parliamentarians and the World Bank Group
Parliamentarians – as elected representatives – can be powerful advocates for development. They pass laws, debate, and approve foreign aid budgets; review development policies; and hold governments accountable for World Bank-financed programs. The World Bank Group, in turn, is an important focus of parliamentary interest as it channels around one-fifth of all aid to the poorest countries. It is also an important source of knowledge and information on how to achieve development results.
How does the Bank engage with parliamentarians?
The World Bank recognizes transparency and accountability as essential to the development process and central to achieving the Bank’s mission to alleviate poverty. Driven by a desire to foster public ownership, partnership and participation in development from a wide range of stakeholders, the World Bank shares its wide-ranging development knowledge freely and openly. The World Bank provides free and open access to a comprehensive set of data about development in countries around the globe, allowing policymakers to make better-informed decisions and measure improvements more accurately.
During the past 10 years, the World Bank Institute (WBI) has trained more than 10,000 members of parliament in partnership with parliamentary organizations. Acting both as a knowledge broker and a centre for action research the Bank works with development partners around the globe to strengthen the capacity of institutions, individual parliamentarians, and parliamentary staff. Consistent with the Bank’s mandate, WBI seeks to enhance the capacity of parliaments to effectively perform their functions (oversight, representation and lawmaking) in order to better contribute to open and collaborative development. WBI does this by strengthening regional parliamentary networks to act as platforms for south-south exchange, structured learning, and knowledge sharing. Action-planning and peer-review mechanisms assist in translating global and regional best practice into national level action. In particular, WBI works in the area of open budgeting, climate change, and extractive industries. WBI is also on the Board of the recently created multilateral portal for parliamentary development, www.agora-parl.org
The Bank interacts with parliamentarians through regular workshops, information sharing, seminars, informal briefing sessions, and parliamentary field visits. For example, the Bank regularly engages members of parliament to contribute to consultations on Bank policies or country assistance strategies. Together with the IMF the World Bank organizes 1-day Parliamentary Workshops around the Spring and Annual Meetings, and the Bank regularly receives parliamentary delegations visiting its headquarters in Washington, D.C. World Bank Senior Management often have informal meetings with foreign policy, finance or development policy appropriation committees when visiting member countries. The Bank also interacts with a number of parliamentary organizations, notably the Parliamentary Network on the World Bank and IMF ; the Global Legislators Organizations (GLOBE); and the Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU).
The Bank involves parliamentarians in the preparation of our Country Assistance Strategies, and encourages parliamentary participation in Poverty Reduction Strategy processes. A survey of World Bank Country Office engagement with Parliamentarians showed that the World Bank was involving parliamentarians in three out of four Country Assistance Strategies in 2009. Parliamentarians are also invited to comment on sector strategies: the Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption (GOPAC) for instance commented on the recent update of the World Bank strategy to strengthen engagement on Governance and Anticorruption (GAC).
Although the Bank works with parliamentarians in various capacities as outlined above, the Bank maintains its official relationships with the governments of its 187 member countries, whose ministers of finance, economy, development, or foreign affairs sit on its Board of Governors. As mandated by its charter, the Bank does not involve itself in the domestic political affairs of a country. This means that except in rare cases, Bank staff cannot testify before a legislative body.
Who Works with Parliamentarians at the Bank?
The Bank’s country offices and country teams are the key entry points for most parliamentarians, and country offices are encouraged by Bank management to have an open and active dialogue with parliaments, through consultations on the Bank’s Country Assistance Strategies or other means. In a recent EXT survey of county offices, most offices reported regular interaction between Country Offices, parliaments and parliamentarians. Many country offices also have Public Information Centers (PICs) where documents and reports on Bank-financed projects and other key publications can be found.
The Parliamentary Relations Team is the Bank’s centralized contact point for parliamentarians. The team acts a facilitator, connecting parliamentarians and parliamentary organizations with relevant Bank units and country offices. Through joint activities with organizations such as the Parliamentary Network, the Bank creates a platform for dialogue, information sharing, and development advocacy. The Team also maps the World Bank’s engagement with parliamentarians, and researches the role of parliaments in development.
The World Bank Institute (WBI), the Bank’s knowledge-sharing arm, strengthens the capacity of parliaments in developing countries through structured learning events, knowledge exchanges, and support for parliamentary networks so that parliaments can contribute to better development results.
The Poverty Reduction and Economic Management Network (PREM) aims to integrate the Bank’s poverty reduction efforts at the country level by strengthening the Bank’s operational and analytical knowledge. It also supports country teams that wish to engage with parliamentarians in the context of broader governance activities.
More Information is available through:
• World Bank’s website for parliamentarians:www.worldbank.org/parliamentarians
• The Eight Pointers: a special guide with useful tips for staff willing to engage with Parliamentarians (available upon request)
Updated March 2012