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World Bank Publications on Civil Society Engagement

Available in: العربية, Français, Español


CS Review Cover Doc PageSourcebook on Consultations with Civil SocietyIssues and Options Paper







Below is the listing of studies, reports, publications, and other materials produced by the World Bank on its civil society engagement work as well as other development topics related to civil society and social development.  These are produced by different regional, network, country, and other units throughout the institution.   Full listing of all World Bank publications.

World Bank - Civil Society Engagement: Review of Fiscal Years 2010 - 2012 
Guidance Note on World Bank Multi-Stakeholder Engagement 2009
Civil Society Consultation Sourcebook

Civil Society Bank Publications 

 Bi-Annual Reviews on WB-Civil Society Engagement

These Reviews provide a comprehensive accounting of Bank – civil society relations across the institution every 2-3 years. It provides detailed information on global consultation processes, examples of operational collaboration, CSO funding mechanisms, and civil society outreach initiatives by region and constituency teams.

World Bank-Civil Society Engagement Review of Fiscal Years 2010 - 2012
World Bank-Civil Society Engagement. Review of Fiscal Years 2007 - 2009
World Bank-Civil Society Engagement. Review of Fiscal Years 2005 and 2006
World Bank-Civil Society Engagement. Review of Fiscal Years 2002-2004
World Bank-Civil Society Collaboration – Progress Report for Fiscal Years 2000 and 2001


General on WB-Civil Society Relations

Civil Society, Public Action and Accountability in Africa (2011) This 68-page paper examines the potential role of civil society action in increasing state accountability for development in Sub-Saharan Africa. It further develops the analytical framework of the World Development Report 2004 on accountability relationships, to emphasize the underlying political economy drivers of accountability and implications for how civil society is constituted and functions.

Issues and Options for Improving Engagement Between the World Bank and Civil Society Organizations (March 2005) The paper assesses the World Bank’s recent relations with civil society organizations, and proposes options for promoting more effective civic engagement in Bank-supported activities and managing associated risks in the future. It analyzes the Bank’s extensive experience over time in engaging CSOs in a broad range of development operations and in policy dialogue at the local, national and global levels.

Working Together. World Bank-Civil Society Relations (2003) This 36-page booklet is composed of two sections.  The first provides basic information on the Bank including its governing structure, project cycle, safeguard policies, and programs such as PRSP.  The second section focuses on the Bank’s civil society engagement work including the rationale and nature of this engagement, civil society staff, and funding mechanisms for civil society.

Engaging Civil Society  (2003) This brochure provides a quick snapshot on the Bank’s civil society engagement work.  It covers the three aspects of why, how, and who carries out these activities in the Bank.  The brochure also has information on how the Bank supports civil society through information, training, and funding.

Non- Governmental Organizations and Civil Society Engagement in World Bank Supported Projects. Lessons from OED Evaluations (2002) This 8-page document summarized findings from previous studies conducted by the Operations Evaluation Department (OED) on engaging civil society. It identified various factors contributing to successful Bank - CSO collaboration, and included recommendations on ways to solidify these relations.

"Government Social Funds in Brazil Bolster Civil Society Grassroots Initiatives" (2001) This 11-page article was written by John Garrison of the Civil Society Team.  It describes the objectives, thematic priorities, operational characteristics, and participatory mechanisms of 14 government-managed social funds financed by the World Bank and valued at over $955 million dollars over a seven year period (1993 - 2001).  The note demonstrates how these "small grants programs" funds in such areas as AIDS prevention, environmental conservation, and rural poverty reduction have begun to significantly change the relations between the government and civil society.

"From Confrontation to Collaboration: Civil Society - Government - World Bank Relations in Brazil " (2000)
This 107-page study written by John Garrison of the Civil Society Team examines the evolving relations between the World Bank, governments, and civil society in Brazil.  The study provides a historic overview of the Brazilian civil society sector, information on the Bank's civil society outreach efforts including its objective and methodology, and examples of civil society involvement in Bank-financed loans.

Nongovernmental Organizations in Bank - Supported Projects (1999) This 87-page  report represented one of the first comprehensive attempts to assess the impact of civil society participation in Bank operations. It was carried out by the Operations Evaluation Department (OED) and analyzed the nature and impact of NGO and CBO participation in 37 in five countries: Bolivia, India, Mali, Brazil, and Kenya. The report presented the findings which were based on desk reviews, staff consultations, and field visits. The document further outlined strategies to influence CSO involvement, and offered recommendations on CSO – World Bank engagement.

Nongovernmental Organizations in World Bank- Supported Projects. A Review (1999) This 4-page paper summarizes the findings of the larger OED report which examined the impact of CSO participation in 37 projects in five countries. Since 1989, when the Bank adopted an Operational Directive to encourage CSO participation in Bank projects, as many as half the projects approved each year have had some form of CSO involvement. But the quality and depth of this collaboration has been uneven. 

"The Challenges of Promoting Participatory Development in the Amazon" (1997) This 11-page note was written jointly by John Garrison, Civil Society Team, and Teresa Aparicio, Social Anthropologist at the Inter-American Development Bank.   The piece provides background information and analyzis on one of the best known and controversial Bank loans to have been funded in the Brazilian state of Rondonia Planafloro.   It provides background information on the region, details the problems plaguing the natural resource project, and describes how the project was re-designed after a participatory process involving local CSOs.

Working with NGOs. A Practical Guide to Operational Collaboration between The World Bank and Non-governmental Organizations (1995) The purpose of this 136-page document was to flag key issues and describe emerging practices in the World Bank's operational collaboration with CSOs, and was intended to guide the reader to enhance its understanding of the benefits and challenges of working together with CSOs. The guide introduced the civil society sector, outlined the potential benefits of working with CSOs, and explained the specific roles they could play at various stages of the project cycle. The guide further identified key issues to successful collaboration with CSOs.  

Involving Nongovernmental Organizations in Bank - Supported Activities. Operational Directive 14.70 (1989) This operational directive provided a framework for involving CSOs in Bank supported activities. It provided Bank staff with guidance on how to engage CSOs in Bank operations. The document described the definition and characteristics of civil society, their strengths and weakness, and various forms NGOs could be involved in Bank-financed projects. It also outlined Bank staff responsibilities regarding CSO engagement.  


Consultations Guidelines

Guidance Note on World Bank Multi-Stakeholder Engagement (2009):  As part of the implementation plan to strengthen World Bank Group engagement on governance and anticorruption, the Bank has prepared a Guidance note on multi-stakeholder engagement. This note provides guidance to staff on demand-side good practice and mandate issues vis-a-vis civil society engagement. Part two of this note discusses the applicable legal and policy considerations in more detail. And finally, part three provides guidance on good practice for ensuring the effectiveness of Bank interventions and that they are performed in a manner consistent with the Bank's mandate, with a particular focus on working with media, parliament, and civil society.

Consultations with Civil Society. A sourcebook - Working Document (February 2007) Produced by the Civil Society Team, the sourcebook presents knowledge and expertise of World Bank staff on how to engage civil society and promote participatory development.  Its first version was published in 2001 and produced by the NGO Unit in the Environmentally and Socially Sustainable Development (ESSD) Newtork.  It has evolved and has been revised over time as a result of being presented and discussed over time.

Consultations with Civil Society Organizations. General Guidelines for World Bank Staff (2000)
This first of a kind publication was prepared by the Bank's NGO and Civil Society Unit in an effort to provide more guidance and support in facilitating consultations with CSOs on projects, policy, and investment lending. Although non-mandatory, the guidelines reflect the advice and good practices distilled from experience of many Bank staff.


Funding Guidelines 

Guide to Resources for NGOs and Other Organizations of Civil Society (2003) The second edition of the document was prepared in partnership between the Small Grants Program of the World Bank and the International Youth FoundationThe publication is intended as a guide to technical and financial resources for CSOs.

Civil Society Engagement eNewsletter

The Civil Society Engagement eNewsletter is a monthly electronic newsletter produced by the Civil Society Team which provides information on World Bank events, reports, staff appointments, and jobs of interest to civil society.
Sign up for the eNewsletter

Independent Evaluation Group Reports on Civil Society Issues 

An OED Review of Social Development in Bank Activities. February 2004 (PDF, 0.4MB) This report presents the collected findings of several evaluative exercises: a literature review, an analysis of the organization of social development in aid agencies, surveys of Bank staff, and a meta-analysis of the previous and ongoing OED studies related to social development. Separate reports on each of these exercises are available on request.

Toward Country-led Development: a Multi-Partner Evaluation of the Comprehensive Development Framework. June 2003 (PDF, 2MB)  The Comprehensive Development Framework (CDF) - launched by World Bank President James D. Wolfensohn in early 1999 - has become an important influence on the global development agenda. This review is an extended multi-partner effort to evaluate the implementation of the CDF principles, to identify the factors that have facilitated and hindered it, and to assess the extent to which CDF implementation has affected behaviors and outcomes.

"OED Lessons and Practices: Non-Governmental Organizations and Civil Society Engagement in World Bank Supported Projects: Lessons from OED Evaluations" The Bank's Operations and Evaluation Department has undertaken a series of studies on the civil society sector and its interaction with the World Bank.  These include a major study undertaken in 1998 in five countries which sought to identify factors contributing to successful World Bank-NGO collaboration, as well as a number of other OED studies.  This paper draws on that body of work to identify some of the important findings and recommendations that should inform the Bank as it attempts to broaden and consolidate its civil society engagement work. 

"OED Prescis: Non-governmental Organizations in World Bank-Supported Projects" (1999)
This is a summary analysis of a larger study carried out in 1998 by the Operational Evaluation Department on the involvement of NGOs in World Bank supported activities at the country level.   The study focused on five countries (Bolivia, Brazil, India, Kenya, and Mali) and found that while the level of NGO involvement is overstasted and uneven accross the Bank, the majority of projects studied showed potential for success because their preparation and early implementation were characterized by civil society organizations.


Other (poverty, social development, etc.)

The World Bank has consolidated its approach to social development into a single Bank-wide Strategy and Implementation Plan, entitled  'Empowering People by Transforming Institutions: Social Development in World Bank Operations", which focuses on efforts to empower poor women and men through enhanced Bank support for social inclusion, cohesive societies and accountable institutions. Social development, is defined as transformation of institutions and as such, promotes better growth, better projects and better quality of life.The paper sets a vision, objectives, and a course of action for the longer term and suggests specific actions, targets, and institutional measures for the next five years. This paper was produced through a three-year effort involving extensive stocktaking, research, consultation.

Voices of the Poor SeriesAt the turn of the new millennium, the World Bank collected the voices of more than 60,000 poor women and men from 60 countries, in an unprecedented effort to understand poverty from the perspective of the poor themselves. Voices of the Poor, as this participatory research initiative is called, chronicles the struggles and aspirations of poor people for a life of dignity. Poor people are the true poverty experts. Poor men and women reveal, in particular, that poverty is multidimensional and complex -- raising new challenges to local, national and global decision-makers. Poverty is voicelessness. It's powerlessness. It's insecurity and humiliation, say the poor across five continents. The immediate impetus for the Voices of the Poor study was to prepare the World Development Report 2000/01The research findings have been published for the World Bank by Oxford University Press in a three-volume series: 

Can Anyone Hear Us? analyzes the voices of over 40,000 poor women and men in 50 countries from participatory poverty assessments carried out by the World Bank in the 1990s;
Crying Out for Change pulls together reports on fieldwork conducted in 1999 in 23 countries involving over 20,000 poor men and women; and
From Many Lands offers regional patterns and country case studies.

Moving Out Of Poverty Series: Poverty studies typically focus on people who live below the poverty line. Few studies have examined how people are able to not only move out of but also stay out of poverty. The global Moving out of Poverty study, carried out in 15 countries, is one of the few large-scale comparative research attempts to analyze mobility out of poverty rather than poverty alone. A follow-up to the Voices of the Poor study, Moving out of Poverty seeks to understand the bottom-up factors that unleash poor people’s economic potential and support their transitions out of poverty, through the perspectives of the men, women and youth who have lived through these experiences. In the process, the study also explores people’s definitions and understandings of mobility, freedom, power, democracy and aspirations, and how these concepts link to building assets and creating wealth.The individual studies that form part of the series are below:

Moving Out of Poverty: Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives 
Moving Out of Poverty: Success from the Bottom-Up 
Moving Out of Poverty: The Promise of Empowerment and Democracy in India 
Moving Out of Poverty: Rising from the Ashes of Conflict 
Country Reports 
Moving Up and Out of Poverty: Countries, Communities, and Individuals


Mainstreaming Participation in the PRSP This is a report of a study undertaken by Bank staff in the Africa region under the coordination of Paula Donnelly-Roark (Senior Social Scientist - Africa Region) to identify what factors lead to more effective participation by civil society in the PRSPs.  The study was carried out in three countries -- Kenya, Cameroon, and Chad -- and identified a four-point iterative approach to participation which consists of: dialogue, collective analysis, action, and monitoring for feedback.


Involving Nongovernmental Organizations in Bank-Supported Activities (1998): This is a piece of advisory that contains  information that World Bank staff may find useful in carrying out the Bank's policies and procedures. It is not necessarily a complete treatment of the subject. This particular piece encourages borrowers and staff members to consult with NGOs and to involve them, as appropriate, in Bank-supported activities, including economic and sector work and all stages of project processing--identification, design, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation.  It was formerly called Good Practices statements (GPs) 14.7.

The Bank’s Relations with NGOs. Issues and Directions (1998) This 20-page report provided an update on Bank- CSO relations, incorporating the findings of the FY 1997 Progress Report. In summarizing the evolution of Bank/NGO relations over nearly two decades of interaction, the paper points to much progress that has clearly been win-win for development. However, concerns have been increasingly expressed by some borrowers that the Bank may be running ahead of its partner governments in its dialogue with NGOs on policy issues, and that some NGOs want even greater dialogue with the Bank, in part as a way to influence borrower governments.    

Last updated: 2013-08-20

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