|This is the February 2004 edition of the World Bank Civil Society Engagement eNewsletter which is a regular electronic newsletter sent to Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) worldwide. It is produced by the Civil Society Team of the World Bank (WB) in collaboration with other WB units. This newsletter highlights some of the many policies, programs, and initiatives of the WB which may involve or be of interest to CSOs.
Also available in PDF format - February 2004 Newsletter [368KB PDF]
THERE ARE 12 ITEMS IN THIS ISSUE:
1. Summary of Online Discussion on "Issues and Options for Improving Engagement Between the World Bank and Civil Society"
2. World Bank Group Welcomes Consultation Report on Extractive Industries
3. World Bank Establishes Trust Fund for World’s Poorest Countries
4. Making Results Matter at the Marrakesh Roundtable
5. 2004 Country-level Development Marketplaces (CDMs): Call for Proposals
6. New Statistical Initiative to Measure Results
7. Civil Society Budget Initiative (CSBI) - Call for Letters of Interest
8. European Union (EU) Contributes €1 Million to Eliminate Stockpiles of Obsolete Pesticides in Africa
9. News from the World Bank's Regional Departments
- Ethiopia - First Annual Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper Progress Report and joint IDA-IMF Staff Assessment
- Strategic Partnership with Africa Renews Commitment to Increase and Reform Aid to Africa
- World Bank and Partners Pledge Support for Liberia’s Recovery
- Country Assistance Evaluation for Rwanda
East Asia and Pacific (EAP)
- Laguna de Bay Institutional Strengthening and Community Participation (LISCOP) Project in the Philippines
Europe and Central Asia (ECA)
- HIV/AIDS in ECA at High-Level Dublin Conference
- Education Quality and Relevance Project in Armenia
Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC)
- CAS in Bolivia
- Debt Service Relief for Nicaragua
- Poverty Reduction Support Credit for Nicaragua
- IDA Credit for the Commonwealth of Dominica
- Country Assistance Evaluation for Brazil
Middle East and North Africa (MENA)
- World Bank Authorizes Trust Fund, Endorses Interim Strategy For Iraq
- National Geographic on World Bank-supported Yemen Literacy Through Poetry Project
South Asia Region (SAR)
- The Punjab Education Service Delivery Reform
10. New Publications from the World Bank
Partnerships in Development: Progress in the Fight Against Poverty, 2004
203 Annual Report of Operations Evaluation
The CGIAR at 31: An Independent Meta-Evaluation of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research
East Asia Integrates: A Trade Policy Agenda for Shared Growth
11. New Websites / Web Resources
12. Ongoing and Recent Global Events/Discussions
E-Discussion on the Role of Communication in Agricultural and Rural Development Projects, February 2-27, 2004
5th Annual Conference of the Parliamentary Network on the World Bank (PNOWB), February 15-16, Paris, FranceVideoconference Dialogue: Discussing the Cases of China and India, February 13, 2004
The Cocoa Symposium, February 10, Washington, DC
WB-Civil Society Discussion Lunch on Governance and Civil Society Participation in Poverty Reduction Strategy
1. Summary of Online Discussion on "Issues and Options for Improving Engagement
Between the World Bank and Civil Society" - Between October 28, 2003 and February 13,
2004 the World Bank made available for public comment a draft paper entitled "Issues and Options for Improving Engagement Between the World Bank and Civil Society Organizations". The paper analyzes the state of global civil society and its relations with the Bank, and makes recommendations on how to improve its engagement with civil society organizations. In addition to virtual comments, the drafting team has sought comments on the paper through a series of meetings and videoconferences with CSOs in several countries, including Mozambique, Indonesia, Egypt jointly with West Bank and Gaza, Argentina, and the United States. Summaries of these discussions as well as a final summary of all contributions received and how they were or were not reflected in the final draft are being posted on the website on the Bank's engagement with civil society.
2. World Bank Group Welcomes Consultation Report on Extractive Industries - The WB Group (WBG) on January 23 issued a statement welcoming the completion of an extensive independent report on stakeholder views regarding the institution’s role in the extractive industries, and commended Dr. Emil Salim for his leadership in preparing the review. The independent stakeholder report is the final part of a multi-year appraisal process in which civil society, industry and government stakeholders. Bank management is now in the process of preparing a draft response to Dr. Salim's report, and will be discussing this with a subcommittee of the Bank Group’s board of executive directors, the Committee on Development Effectiveness (CODE), in the coming weeks on a date to be determined. Following that, the full Board of Executive Directors, which represents the 184 shareholder nations who are members of the WBG, will review the final Management Response and determine which policy, procedural, and institutional proposals should be accepted. To learn more about the Extractive Industries Review, and to read the report by Dr. Salim, please go to: http://www.eireview.org/.
3. World Bank Establishes Trust Fund for World’s Poorest Countries - The WB created on January 15 a $25 million Trust Fund to strengthen institutions, support early efforts at policy reform and build capacity for social service delivery in the world’s poorest countries. These countries, collectively known as Low Income Countries Under Stress (LICUS), are characterized by very weak institutions and governance, and constitute the most difficult environments in which to use aid effectively. The Bank's LICUS initiative aims to support selective basic governance reforms and innovative mechanisms for social service delivery. The Trust Fund will target those LICUS countries that are not eligible to receive International Development Association (IDA) funding due to their arrears with the Bank. The Trust Fund will be financed by transferring funds from the Bank’s surplus for FY03 and will operate until the end of 2007. It will be administered by the International Development Association (IDA), drawing on the approval system, documentation and procedures of the existing Post Conflict Fund. The Trust Fund will work closely with the support available from other donor agencies, ensuring close collaboration with our partners, in particular the UN system. To learn more about the LICUS initiative, please go to: http://www.worldbank.org/licus.
4. Making Results Matter at the Marrakesh Roundtable - The Second International Roundtable on Managing for Development Results took place on 4-5 February 2004 in Marrakesh, Morocco. The Roundtable was sponsored by the multilateral development banks - the African Development Bank, Asian Development Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Inter-American Development Bank and the WB - in collaboration with the Development Assistance Committee of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The Roundtable brought together representatives from developing countries and development agencies to discuss the challenges of managing for development results at the country level and the ways in which countries and development agencies are addressing these issues on the ground. Participants assessed progress since the First Roundtable, which took place in 2002, and talked about how they can continue to strengthen country and agency commitments to harmonize monitoring and evaluation around national strategies and systems, in order to provide useful reporting on results. They also reflected on how donors can better coordinate support to strengthen the planning, statistical systems, and monitoring and evaluation capacity that countries need to manage their development process. Heads of agencies endorsed a Joint Marrakesh Memorandum which outlines common principles on managing for development results, including a commitment to specific actions for 2004. To learn more about the Bank's work on the results agenda, please visit: http://www.worldbank.org/results.
5. 2004 Country-level Development Marketplaces (CDMs): Call for Proposals - The Development Marketplace is a global competition for innovative ideas held annually at the WB headquarters. The Marketplace is also organizing decentralized \Country-level Development Marketplaces, competitions for creative project proposals in specific countries. On January 30, 2004 , the Philippine CDM announced that 50 winning projects would share an award pool of US$1.2 million, the largest award pool for any CDM to date. The next five CDMs in 2004 will be held in India, Yemen, Southern Africa, Colombia and Lithuania. They are scheduled to take place in April, May and June. The Call for Proposals is now open for: Southern Africa - deadline February 20, Yemen - deadline March 8, Colombia - deadline April 9. Dates for Lithuania are still to be confirmed. If you have any questions, you may contact the Development Marketplace secretariat by writing to: mailto:DMinfo@worldbank.org.
6. New Statistical Initiative to Measure Results - The new initiative called STATCAP is designed to build the capacity of developing countries to gather and analyze statistics. It envisions a new lending program to help countries gather hard evidence on the state of development in their communities by developing more sophisticated statistical systems. To take part in the STATCAP program, countries will be asked to produce statistical masterplans for the upgrading of their systems. Two pilot programs are already being developed, in Ukraine and Burkina Faso. Among the priorities of STATCAP will be developing the ability within the statistical systems to monitor countries' progress toward the Millennium Development Goals. The initiative builds on the WB's effort to emphasize the results of its development efforts.
7. Civil Society Budget Initiative (CSBI): Call for Letters of Interest - CSBI, a three year grants program coordinated by the International Budget Project is inviting “Letters of Interest” from CSOs interested in receiving financial and technical support to build their capacity to carry out effective analysis and advocacy work on government budgets. Eligible countries for the first year selection are: Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique, Senegal, Cambodia, Indonesia, Mongolia, Bolivia, Honduras, and Nicaragua. The deadline for application is February 28, 2004. CSBI prefers to receive applications in English, but it will accept applications in French, Portuguese, and Spanish. CSBI is a partnership of civil society organizations (CSOs) that specialize in citizen based budget work, and donor agencies. The partners are: FUNDAR of Mexico, The Uganda Debt Network, The Institute for Democracy in South Africa, The Center for Democracy in Bolivia, The Ford Foundation, National Center for Advocacy Studies, India, the Municipality of Porto Alegre in Brazil, DFID, SIDA, DANIDA, and the WB.
8. European Union (EU) Contributes €1 Million to Eliminate Stockpiles of Obsolete Pesticides
in Africa - The Africa Stockpiles Program (ASP) on January 26 announced that the EU has contributed €1 million to the recently established Multi-Donor Trust Fund, becoming the first ASP partner to deliver on its pledge to help launch the program. The ASP is a partnership between industry, governments, private foundations, civil society, and international organizations, including the WB, all of whom have agreed to pool resources and expertise in a collaborative, comprehensive effort to rid Africa of polluting stockpiles of obsolete pesticides. The objective of the ASP is to clear all obsolete pesticide stocks from Africa in an environmentally sound manner, and to put in place measures to prevent their recurrence. An initial $48 million committed by the partnership will be used to prepare programs and to clean up six African countries (Ethiopia, Mali, Morocco, South Africa, Tanzania, and Tunisia), as well as prepare nine more for clean up.
9. News from the World Bank's Regional Departments
- Ethiopia - First Annual Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper Progress Report and joint IDA-IMF Staff Assessment - In 2002 the Ethiopian Government committed itself to the Sustainable Development and Poverty Reduction Program (SDPRP). This is the first annual progress report on the implementation of the program. The development objectives of the country set out in the SDPRP were to build a free-market economic system in the country, which will enable the economy to develop rapidly, to end dependence on food aid; and to allow poor people to benefit from economic growth. The report analyzes the main conditions of growth in Ethiopia and also shows other features of growth in the country including the significance of rainfall as one variable factor.
- Strategic Partnership with Africa Renews Commitment to Increase and Reform Aid to Africa - Countries and organizations comprising the Strategic Partnership with Africa (SPA) on January 21 renewed their commitment to increase aid to Africa and improve its impact on reducing poverty in the continent. Hosted by the African Development Bank, the SPA held its annual plenary meeting on January 20-21, 2004 in Tunis, Tunisia. For the first time, African governments joined the meeting as full participants. The meeting reviewed progress on the goals agreed at its last meeting in January 2003, and agreed on its program for the coming year. Specific issues discussed included the importance of reaching a new global trade accord, need for redoubled efforts to meet the commitment on aid volumes to Africa, and the efficiency of past year's aid programs in supporting concrete goals outlined in national poverty programs. The Partnership, which since 1987 has mobilized support for reforming African economies, is the principal forum for aid mobilization and coordination for Sub-Saharan Africa. WB Africa team website has more information about the SPA.
- World Bank and Partners Pledge Support for Liberia’s Recovery - The WB made a statement on February 6 that it would help finance Liberia's recovery at an international reconstruction conference for the country, co-hosted by the United Nations, the US, and the WB. A large group of donors, including the EU, the IMF, the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Japan, and France, along with the conference co-hosts, pledged substantial support for Liberia's Results Focused Transitional Framework and for the UN's Consolidated Appeal for Liberia. For the fiscal year ending June 30, 2004, the WB will make available to Liberia a $25 million grant. The WB expects to provide a similar amount in the next fiscal year, subject to an assessment of performance and specific needs. To learn more about Bank's work in Liberia, please visit the website of WB's Africa region.
- Country Assistance Evaluation for Rwanda - This Country Assistance Evaluation (CAE) examines IDA assistance to Rwanda between 1989 and 2001. The CAE is a countrywide evaluation that examines the relevance, efficiency, efficacy, sustainability, and institutional development impact of the WB’s program of assistance, and includes an assessment of the outcomes of IDA’s assistance strategies.
East Asia and Pacific (EAP)
- Laguna de Bay Institutional Strengthening and Community Participation (LISCOP) Project in the Philippines - A US$5 million loan agreement and a US$5 million grant agreement from the Netherlands Government were signed on January 28 to support the Laguna de Bay Institutional Strengthening and Community Participation (LISCOP) Project in the Philippines. The project aims to reduce pollution and improve the environmental quality of Laguna de Bay, the second largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia. The project has two components: The first, co-managed micro-watershed environmental interventions, will assist the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA), local government units (LGUs), private sector and community groups to reduce pollution of the lake and improve the environmental quality of its watershed. The second component, strengthening institutions and instruments, will allow the LLDA and LGUs to take on the task of undertaking the change in the way the watershed is regulated and managed. To learn more about the project, please visit the website of the Philippines office.
Europe and Central Asia (ECA)
- HIV/AIDS in ECA at High-Level Dublin Conference - Donors, including the WB, and government officials from 55 countries across the region as well as 10 youth delegates will meet in Dublin February 23-24 for a conference hosted by the Irish EU presidency called "Breaking the Barriers -- Partnership to Fight HIV/AIDS in Europe and Central Asia." The specific theme of the conference is the threat posed by HIV/AIDS to the countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Participants will discuss such topics as living with HIV/AIDS, prevention and young people, and partnerships and the global perspective. The conference is expected to conclude with adoption of a document, the Dublin Declaration, which will set out an action plan and targets designed to ensure that HIV/AIDS is tackled effectively through prevention, treatment and care. The WB will be represented at the event by a senior delegation including the Vice President for the ECA Region, the Director for the Global HIV/AIDS Program, and the Sector Manager for Health, Nutrition and Population from the ECA region.
- Education Quality and Relevance Project in Armenia - The WB on January 20 approved a US$19 million equivalent credit for the Armenia Education Quality and Relevance Project. This International Development Association (IDA) Credit will assist the government in its efforts to improve the quality and relevance of the Armenian school system to meet the challenges of the knowledge society. The project is intended to be the first phase of a three-phase, ten-year commitment by the WB to supporting educational change in Armenia. The Project will make the school curriculum more suitable for the Armenian economy and society and make the way students are tested more objective and reliable. The project will also provide computers and other materials and help teachers use them effectively in the classroom. Ongoing plans to improve the management and efficiency of the education system will be supported.
Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC)
- CAS in Bolivia - On February 10 the WB approved the Country Assistance Strategy (CAS) for Bolivia, which projects up to $300 million in new lending over 2004 and 2005, in order to fight poverty and promote economic growth. As part of this new program, the Bank also approved a $30 million First Programmatic Bank and Corporate Sector Restructuring Program Adjustment Loan/Credit for economic recovery that supports the Government’s bank and corporate restructuring program. The new CAS outlines a lending program of up to $150 million of new financial resources per year. As part of the CAS, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the WB Group, will continue to support the development of the private sector in Bolivia over these two years. In addition, the World Bank Institute (WBI) will significantly increase its efforts towards improving governance, with a focus on anticorruption and enhancement of institutional capacity; improving voice, accountability, and inclusion; promoting pro-poor growth; and achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
- Debt Service Relief for Nicaragua - The WB's International Development Association (IDA) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) agreed that Nicaragua has taken the steps necessary to reach its completion point under the enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative. Debt relief under the enhanced HIPC Initiative from all of Nicaragua’s creditors will amount to approximately US$4.5 billion over time. Nicaragua becomes the tenth country to reach its completion point under the enhanced framework of the HIPC Initiative. IDA will provide debt relief amounting to US$382.6 million in debt service relief (US$190.9 million in net present value (NPV) terms), to be delivered through a 90 percent reduction in debt service on IDA credits from 2001 through 2023. The IMF will provide debt relief of approximately US$106.5 million (US$82.2 million, or SDR 63.5 million, in NPV terms) on payments falling due to the IMF during 2002–09. The remaining bilateral and multilateral creditors are also expected to provide their share of relief required under the Initiative. Nicaragua’s total external debt is to be reduced by approximately 73 percent in NPV terms. Resources made available by debt relief under the HIPC Initiative are being allocated to fund key pro-poor growth programs, which are outlined in Nicaragua’s Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP).
- Poverty Reduction Support Credit for Nicaragua - In support of Nicaragua’s efforts to maintaining economic stability, the WB on January 22 approved a $70 million, zero-interest balance of payments credit to advance the implementation of poverty reduction actions and fiduciary strengthening reforms. The Poverty Reduction Support Credit (PRSC) aims to improve the impact of public programs through increased efficiency of public sector spending and better donor coordination. The PRSC will focus on priority areas included in the four pillars of Nicaragua’s Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP). The PRSC will contribute to Nicaragua’s poverty reduction efforts by increasing the accountability, responsiveness and effectiveness of the state, and by directly supporting several Millennium Development Goals, such as targets for primary school completion, improved child health and nutrition, improved water coverage, and improved reproductive and maternal health for women.
- IDA Credit for the Commonwealth of Dominica - The WB on January 29 approved an IDA credit of US$3 million to support a resumption of economic growth and the restoration of fiscal balance in the Commonwealth of Dominica. The Economic Recovery Support Operation promotes improvements in public expenditure, financial and debt management, and implementation of a recently articulated Medium Term Public Sector Reform Strategy. At the same time, the project provides resources needed to protect essential social spending during the period of fiscal adjustment.
- Country Assistance Evaluation for Brazil - This report examines whether the objectives of Bank assistance during the 1990-2002 period were relevant, given Brazil’s development needs and challenges during that time. Second, whether the Bank’s assistance program was effectively designed and consistent with its objectives. Third, the document analyzes whether the Bank’s program achieved its objectives and had a substantive impact on the country’s development during this period.
Middle East and North Africa (MENA)
- World Bank Authorizes Trust Fund, Endorses Interim Strategy For Iraq - The WB’s Board of Executive Directors on January 29 authorized the Bank to act as an administrator for the Iraq Trust Fund, which will finance a program of emergency projects and technical assistance for the next six to nine months. The program is contained in the Interim Strategy for Iraq. It includes specific projects and technical assistance, to be financed by the trust fund, and also a program of economic and sector work aimed at laying the groundwork for an expanded development assistance program in the near future. The work program detailed in the Interim Strategy is based on a Joint Iraq Needs Assessment conducted by the UN and WB in 2003. The immediate goals of the work program are: build the Iraqi government’s ability to manage a reconstruction program; initiate emergency programs to address urgent needs; and provide policy advice and analytical work that will pave the transition to a market-based economy and a medium-term development program.
- National Geographic on World Bank-supported Yemen Literacy Through Poetry Project - National Geographic features a story on this pilot project in its January 27 issue. The project has dual goals of teaching literacy skills to rural Yemeni women utilizing their own extensive oral literature, and investigating the relevance of expressive culture to development in ways other than the marketing of cultural artifacts. For centuries, oral poetry has offered a socially acceptable way for Yemeni men and women to solve problems, manage conflicts, and communicate feelings. The project addresses two underlying chronic problems faced by Yemeni women: a decline in their own poetry composition and a loss of a public voice. The project applies the latest findings in educational theory, including the assertion that learning is most effective when it is based on what learners already know, and affirms what they value.
South Asia Region (SAR)
- The Punjab Education Service Delivery Reform - The Punjab education service delivery reform is supported by a US$100 million credit approved by the WB on February 10. The reform will bring more children from Punjab, Pakistan's largest province, particularly poor children and girls, into school and provide them with better quality education. Aiming to improve the education indicators, the credit contributes towards progress in the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) related to poverty reduction and Education For All (EFA) in the country. The reform, which this credit supports has three main pillars: (a) public finance reforms; (b) devolution reforms; and (c) education sector reforms. These reforms have been designed following consultations with students, parents, teachers, and local officials, including with district education teams and CSOs. More information about this project can be found on the website of Bank's office in Pakistan.
10. New Publications from the World Bank
Partnerships in Development: Progress in the Fight Against Poverty, 2004 - The WB has released a new report and booklet on poverty reduction. Both publications are entitled “Partnerships in Development: Progress in the Fight Against Poverty, 2004.” They are designed to provide a more comprehensive and externally focused assessment of how the World Bank Group works with others to help countries move towards the vision of poverty reduction embodied in the Millennium Development Goals and the Monterrey Consensus. Using country examples, the publications highlight the broad range of the Bank Group’s activities to promote growth, and to reduce poverty in its multiple dimensions. Your feedback on either publication would be greatly valued. Please send your comments to: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org. 2003 Annual Report of Operations Evaluation - The report assesses progress of the WB's effort to enhance the results and effectiveness of its development activities, as well as the WB's efforts to build a "results orientation" in member countries during 2003. It takes stock of WB's frameworks both for monitoring and for evaluation, comments on their effectiveness, and highlights areas for improvement and greater management attention. In the area of monitoring and evaluation of WB operations, the report raises three broad areas for WB improvement: the need to enhance outcome orientation and availability of activities in the design stages; the need to strengthen the quality and realism of reporting on implementation progress, based on the performance indicators set out during the design stages; and the need to close gaps in self- and independent evaluation. In terms of building monitoring and evaluation capacity in member countries, the report notes that the WB has been active in helping borrowers strengthen their results orientation and evaluation capacity in order to enhance government performance. Yet the reports also notes limited progress in mainstreaming this work throughout WB operations. The report also makes specific recommendations to WB management and to OED management on how to improve the institution's evaluation capacity. The CGIAR at 31: An Independent Meta-Evaluation of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research - The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) was established in 1971 to scale up years of effort by the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations in supporting four international agricultural research centers in Colombia, Mexico, Nigeria and the Philippines. The Meta-Evaluation of the CGIAR finds that its productivity-enhancing research has had sizeable impacts on reducing poverty. However, the CGIAR is facing huge challenges. It is less focused on enhancing agricultural productivity than it used to be. The report finds that CGIAR’s current mix of activities reflects neither its comparative advantage nor its core competence. It also finds that CGIAR has not responded sufficiently at the system level to the biotechnology revolution, the increasing importance of intellectual property rights, and the growth of private sector research. The evaluation makes several recommendations to address the challenges facing CGIAR, and enhance CGIAR’s role in agricultural research into the future. East Asia Integrates: A Trade Policy Agenda for Shared Growth - Emerging East Asian economies have seen their share of world exports more than triple during the past quarter-century, and intraregional trade has driven this growth. The publication outlines some fundamental strategies that promote cross-border flows of trade, along with domestic policies on logistics, trade facilitation, standards and institutions to maximize the impact of these flows on development and distribute the gains from trade widely. As the authors demonstrate, multilateral and regional trade initiatives must provide a compelling vision of how integration can deliver broadly shared growth and prosperity if they are to succeed. In addition, they must use the momentum offered by trade agreements to address the links between trade on the one hand, and social stability, poverty reduction, and growth on the other.
11. New Websites / Web Resources
Water and Sanitation Program - The Water and Sanitation Program (WSP) is one of WB's longest standing external partnership programs. It links the development agencies around the globe which are concerned with improving sector policies, practices and capacities to alleviate poverty by helping the poor gain sustained access to water and sanitation services. The program is administered by WB and functions as an independent unit within the Department of Energy and Water in the Infrastructure Vice Presidency. The WSP Global Communication Center team has launched in December 2003 its new website, which provides continuously updated information on WSP projects around the world, WSS sector news, WSP publications, a polling function, and links to related networks and partner organizations.
12. Ongoing and Recent Global Events/Discussions
E-Discussion on the Role of Communication in Agricultural and Rural Development Projects, February 2-27, 2004 - This discussion brings together the perspectives and experiences of decision-makers, development practitioners, academia and communication specialists of national and international institutions, CSOs, and donors active in the field of agriculture and rural development. The discussion has involved over 260 participants so far representing 80 countries. 5th Annual Conference of the Parliamentary Network on the World Bank (PNOWB), February 15-16, Paris, France - The French Senate hosted the 5th Annual Conference of the PNoWB. Over 140 MPs attended the two-day event which featured, among other activities, a session with WB President James Wolfensohn and an address by the French Finance Minister. The program included regional working sessions, parallel workshops on Building Alliances for Change, The Role of Parliamentarians in Strengthening the investment climate, Education for all and Working with the WB on Operations, the role of MPs in achieving the Millennium Development Goals, featuring Evelyn Herfkens, UN Executive Coordinator for the MDG campaign. Francois Bourguignon, Chief Economist of the World Bank and Augustin Carstens, Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund were among the featured speakers, and a number of CSO representatives also participated. To see the Conference agenda and learn more about the work of the PNOWB, please visit the website of PNOWB. Videoconference Dialogue: Discussing the Cases of China and India, February 13, 2004 - A three-hour videoconference on scaling up poverty reduction through good governance practices was held at Global Development Learning Network (GDLN) sites in Beijing, Colombo, Delhi, Hanoi and Paris on February 13, 2004. The event was part of some 20 multicountry interactive videoconference dialogues being held prior to the poverty conference in Shanghai in May of 2004. The purpose of the dialogues is to discuss the draft case studies, and the conceptual approaches to "scaling up," to provide feedback to the authors, and to help build a global community of learning. The Cocoa Symposium, February 10, Washington, DC - Experts gathered on February 10 at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, DC for the 2004 Cocoa Symposium. The main focus of the discussions was the cocoa-based confection, which contains chemicals, called flavanols, shown to improve blood flow and reduce blood pressure. Additionally, research conducted through a public/private partnership including UC Davis, Harvard University and the WB was presented. The research has shown that family farmers in tropical regions can benefit from growing cacao while replenishing rain forests. Central and South American nations have most of the world's cacao production, but African and Southeast Asian countries contribute as well. WB-Civil Society Discussion Lunch on Governance and Civil Society Participation in Poverty Reduction Strategy - As part of the WB's regular series of lunch discussions with civil society on the effects of development and WB policies promoting development, two papers were discussed on December 12 on country-level participation in the PRSPs. The first was "Laying the Foundation for Sustainable Development: Good Governance and the Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers" by Ann Hudock, Senior Advisor, World Learning. The second was an “Assessment of Trade Union Participation in the PRSP Process” by Lawrence Egulu, International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, Africa Regional Office. A video file from the discussion is available from the Bank's B-SPAN website as well as a short summary of the discussion.