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Civil Society Engagement eNewsletter - March 2004

This is the March 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 - March 2004 [370KB PDF]

THERE ARE 11 ITEMS IN THIS ISSUE:

1. World Bank President Speaks at Conference on Human Rights and Development, March 1
2. Draft World Bank Social Development Strategy Available for Comment
3. When is External Debt Sustainable? New Policy Research Working Paper by the WB HIPC Team
4. Role of Environment on the Global Agenda, Roundtable Discussion at the WB
5. First Meeting of the IDA-14 Replenishment Negotiations, Paris, France, February 18-20
6. Update on the WB-Civil Society Joint Facilitation Committee (JFC) Process
7. Spring Meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, April 24-25: Initial Information

8. News from the World Bank's Regional Departments

Africa

  • Post-Reunification Economic Recovery Credit for the Democratic Republic of Congo
  • World Bank Support to Education Sector in Ghana

East Asia and Pacific (EAP)

  • World Bank’s Executive Board Discusses New Progress Report on the Country Assistance Strategy (CAS) for Vietnam

Europe and Central Asia (ECA)

  • Slovenia Moves From Borrower to Donor
  • E-Learning Support Project in Russia

Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC)

  • Honduras Land Administration Program
  • First Programmatic Loan for Sustainable and Equitable Growth for Brazil
  • Social Crisis Response Loan for the Dominican Republic

Middle East and North Africa (MENA)

  • Education Quality Improvement Program (EQIP) II in Tunisia
  • Three Projects To Promote Water Conservation, Enhance Access To Infrastructure And Services For Poor in Yemen
  • Children and Youth Strategy Development

South Asia Region (SAR)

  • The Rajasthan Health Systems Project in India
  • Poverty Reduction Strategy Review for Pakistan
  • Village Banks to Empower Women in Sri Lanka

9. New Publications from the World Bank

  • OED Review of Social Development in Bank Activities
  • Coffee Markets: New Paradigms in Global Supply & Demand
  • When is Growth Pro-Poor: Cross-Country Evidence
  • Agriculture and the WTO: Creating a Trading System for Development

10. Upcoming Global Events/Discussions

  • World Bank Presence at 5th Biennial CIVICUS World Assembly, 21 - 25 March 2004, Gaborone, Botswana
  • Knowledge Economy Forum in Budapest to Explore Competitiveness, March 23-26
  • Second Stop TB Partners' Forum, March 24-26, New Delhi India
  • Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington 25th Anniversary Recommitment Ceremony and Third Annual Richard W. Snowdon Lecture Featuring President of the World Bank, March 30
  • ABCDE-Europe Conference, May 10-11

11. Recent Global Events/Discussions

  • World Bank President Visits CARE Headquarters, March 2
  • Diverting Disaster: Helping the Poor Elude Nature's Wrath, On-line Discussion, March 16
  • Shanghai Poverty Conference: Recent Global Dialogues
  • 2nd Knowledge For Development Forum For Middle East, North Africa, March 15-16, Marseilles, France
  • Conference on Opportunities and Challenges of CAFTA for Central America, March 17-18, San Salvador, El Salvador

1. World Bank President on Human Rights and Development, March 1 - A number of human rights and development experts, including senior officials from the WB and other international organizations, met at the New York University School of Law for a one-day conference on the theme of: Human Rights and Development: Towards Mutual Reinforcement.   The event was cosponsored by the NYU Center for Human Rights and Global Justice and the Ethical Globalization Initiative (EGI) with support from the WB. The Conference’s keynote address was given by James Wolfensohn, President of the World Bank. The event was co-chaired by Mary Robinson, Executive Director of the Ethical Globalization Initiative, and Philip Alston, Professor of Law and Faculty Director of the NYU Center for Human Rights and Global Justice.  Ms. Robinson made introductory remarks.  Wolfensohn addressed the participants with a message of the need for human rights and development communities to work together in an effort to "put pressure on our leaders to make this world a more focused and a better and a more effective place in terms of development and in terms of rights."  Read the full text of Mr. Wolfensohn's remarks at the following link: "Human Rights and Development: Toward Mutual Reinforcement."

  2. Draft World Bank Social Development Strategy Available for Comment - The first draft Strategic Priorities Paper, Social Development in World Bank Operations: Results and a Way Forward, prepared by the WB's Social Development Department, is now posted on the Bank's website, and comments are welcomed until June 2004.  The document outlines how the WB will work with client countries to address their social development challenges and ensure that Bank projects and programs integrate principles of social sustainability. 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.  The WB hopes to generate public discussion and debate on the principles of social development: (a) inclusion, (b) cohesion, and (c) accountability, and how these are reflected in regional and national priority-setting, through a series of upcoming multi-stakeholder roundtables and electronic forums.   To get more information on these upcoming forums, or to submit comments or questions on the draft paper, send an e:mail to: sdcommunications@worldbank.org.

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  3. When is External Debt Sustainable? New Policy Research Working Paper by the WB HIPC Team   - This new paper analyzes the probability of debt distress in developing countries and examines the implications of the analysis for the lending policies of official creditors and the borrowing strategies of low income debtor countries.  It shows that the likelihood of debt distress can be substantially explained using a small set of three factors: debt burdens, policy, and shocks.  The results presented in the paper indicate that the probability of debt distress is already high in many low-income countries, and is likely to increase sharply if the large-scale development finance required to meet the Millennium Development Goals is provided in the form of concessional lending at historic levels.  The paper argues for a new scheme of financing resource transfers to low-income countries in a way that controls the probability of debt distress, provides good incentives to borrowers, and does not involve additional donor commitments to finance large-scale new grants.  Comments on the paper and its findings are welcome and can be addressed to the authors of the report: akraay@worldbank.org and vnehru@worldbank.org.

  4. Role of Environment on Global Agenda, Roundtable Discussion at the WB - On March 3 the Environment Department of the WB hosted the Environment Roundtable Discussion that involved a number of leading environmentalists and CSO leaders.   The debate was chaired by Claude Martin, Director General of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF International) and featured prominent CSO leaders: Steve Sanderson, President and CEO of the Wildlife Conservation Society; Christiana Figueres, Founder and former Executive Director of the Center for Sustainable Development in the Americas; Steve McCormick, President of The Nature Conservancy (TNC); Tim Wirth, President of the United Nations Foundation; Jonathan Lash, President of World Resources Institute (WRI); and Kathryn Fuller, President of World Wildlife Fund US (WWF). The panelists agreed that more cross-sectoral approaches are needed both in governments in the developing world and in donor agencies in order to effectively tackle the challenges reducing poverty and achieving environmental sustainability.

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  5. First Meeting of the IDA14 Replenishment Negotiations, Paris, France, February 18-20 - Representatives of rich donor countries and borrowing countries met in Paris, France to discuss the next replenishment for the International Development Association (IDA).   This was their first meeting on IDA14 funding, which will cover Fiscal Years 2006-08.  At the meeting, participants discussed issues around grant resourcing, a performance-based allocation system, debt sustainability, aid effectiveness, and support for private sector development.  This round of IDA negotiations will continue throughout 2004, aiming for agreement around December, so that IDA-14 framework and funding can be approved by the Bank's Board before July 2005. The next meeting of IDA Deputies is planned for early summer in Vietnam, an IDA recipient country, and the IDA Deputies will interact closely with stakeholders in the region.  All discussion papers as well as background papers for the first IDA14 Replenishment Meeting were made public ahead of the meeting and along with the Chairman's summary of the meeting are available on the Bank's website.

  6. Update on the WB-Civil Society Joint Facilitation Committee (JFC) Process - A February 23  update on the JFC Process by Kumi Naidoo, Secretary General and CEO of CIVICUS, facilitator of CSO participation in the JFC Process, invites interested CSOs to share their views and comments on the recent activities of the JFC as well as suggestions on possible ways the process might move forward.  CIVICUS has made available all materials and documents related to the JFC process on their website.  A listserv for the process has also been created, with a plan to hold a series of discussions on the process with all interested groups during the next several months.  CIVICUS has also developed an online survey to solicit the views of CSOs about how to utilize the JFC space and feedback on the proposed activities.  To fill out the survey and for further information on the JFC, please visit the CIVICUS website at:  http://www.civicus.org/.

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  7. Spring Meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, April 24-25:    Initial Information - Each Spring, the joint Bank-IMF Development Committee and the IMF's International Monetary and Financial Committee hold meetings to discuss progress on the work of the Bank and Fund. The 2004 Spring Meetings will be held in Washington, DC on April 24-25.  The provisional agenda for the Development Committee meeting includes discussions of the Global Monitoring Report on the MDGs, Education for All Initiative, and Debt Sustainability.  The background documents on these topics will be posted on the Spring Meetings Briefing Center closer to the dates of the Meetings.  In addition, a number of dialogues for interested civil society organizations are being organized around the Meetings.  Details of these meetings also will be available on this website closer to the date. There is no formal accreditation process to attend these dialogues, however interested CSOs will be requested to register by email to attend individual sessions.  Inquiries related to the Spring Meetings dialogues can be sent to: civilsociety@worldbank.org.

8. News from the World Bank's Regional Departments

Africa

  • Post-Reunification Economic Recovery Credit for the Democratic Republic of Congo - On February 26, the WB Board of Directors approved an IDA Credit of US$200 million to support the Post-Reunification Economic Recovery Credit.  It will facilitate the implementation of urgent reforms in critical areas including initiating a civil service reform.  It will help the government deal with the country’s debt situation by making resources available to support the government’s settlement of domestic arrears and payment to its utility suppliers. The project will also deepen structural reforms to foster efficiency and enhance productive capacities, and provide the Government with the resources to facilitate transitional and reintegration adjustments across the newly reunified country.
  • World Bank Support to Education Sector in Ghana - On March 16, the Government of Ghana and the WB signed a credit of US$78 million to support the Education Sector Development Program Project (Edsep). The Project’s main objectives are to promote equitable and efficient provision of quality services at the basic and secondary levels and to foster innovation and improved quality at the tertiary level.  As part of the support, the Government of Ghana is also contributing a total of US$10 million to the Project.  Another program supporting reforms in the education sector in Ghana, is approved on March 9, an IDA Credit of US$78 million.  The Education Sector Credit will promote equitable access and efficient delivery of quality services in pre-tertiary education and more relevance in tertiary education.  It will help improve enrollment rate nationwide with an emphasis on girls’ enrollment. The proposed project will also help improve management skills and build the capacity of key actors in the sector.  Activities under both projects will assist Ghana in meeting the Education for All (EFA) goal, which is one of the 8 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

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East Asia and Pacific (EAP)

  • World Bank’s Executive Board Discusses New Progress Report on the Country Assistance Strategy (CAS) for Vietnam - WB’s Executive Board on February 19 discussed the new Progress Report on the Country Assistance Strategy (CAS) for Vietnam, which is based on Vietnam's Comprehensive Poverty Reduction and Growth Strategy (CPRGS).  The Board also reviewed the joint WB/IMF staffs’ assessment of the Government's first annual CPRGS Progress Report. The Board noted progress so far in implementing the strategy laid out in the 2002 CAS.  It supported a continuation of this strategy for the remaining CAS period, as well as an adjusted program of assistance laid out in the new CAS Progress Report. Under the adjusted IDA lending program, WB is expected to provide Vietnam with concessional finance of up to USD 1.6 billion in 2004 and 2005.

Europe and Central Asia (ECA)

  • Slovenia Moves From Borrower to Donor - On March 17, less than two months from joining the European Union, Slovenia transitioned from a WB borrower to a donor partner.  WB President James Wolfensohn witnessed the signing of graduation letters between Slovenia and the World Bank.  The visit by Mr. Wolfensohn and Shigeo Katsu, the WB Regional Vice President for ECA, provided an opportunity to discuss deepening Slovenia’s trade, investment and technical assistance role in the Balkans.  After Slovenia joined the WB in 1993, the relationship focused primarily on providing policy advice and support for institution-building rather than on high-volume lending.  Since then, WB commitments to Slovenia have totaled US$129 million for four projects.
  • E-Learning Support Project in Russia - The WB approved on March 2 a US$100 million loan for the first phase of a total $300 million Adaptable Program loan for the e-Learning Support Project. The first phase of the project will support education modernization goals of the Federal Targeted Program for 2001-2005 “e-Education,“ and will help improve accessibility, quality, and efficiency of general and first level vocational education all over Russia. The project has three main components: (a) addressing the shortage of learning materials, (b) teacher training in the educational use of information and communication technologies, and (c) development of a network of interschool resource centers.

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Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC)

  • Honduras Land Administration Program - WB approved on February 26 a US$25 million, zero-interest credit for Honduras to expand access to formal land titling, surveying, registration, and conflict resolution mechanisms, as part of an integrated and decentralized land administration system. The Honduras Land Administration Program will provide users with accurate information on urban and rural land parcels, as well as effective land administration services in a timely and cost-effective manner. The program aims to increase land security, facilitate land market transactions, develop national and municipal territorial plans, and develop management plans for protected areas, forests, and indigenous peoples lands.
  • First Programmatic Loan for Sustainable and Equitable Growth for Brazil - On February 19, WB Board of Directors approved a US$505 million First Programmatic Loan for Sustainable and Equitable Growth for Brazil. The loan will strengthen a set of microeconomic measures and institutional reforms for sustainable, broad-based growth, employment generation, and poverty reduction through higher investment and rising productivity.  It will also reduce external vulnerability by covering part of Brazil’s external financing requirements and increasing net international reserves. The loan supports a set of microeconomic and institutional reforms with short, medium and long term impacts.
  • Social Crisis Response Loan for the Dominican Republic - WB’s Executive Board on February 12 approved a   Social Crisis Response Adjustment Loan of US$100 million for the Dominican Republic to mitigate the social impact of the current economic crisis. The loan aims to reduce the social impacts of the economic and social crisis in both the electricity and social sectors. It will also support efforts to better manage electricity subsidies and improve the performance and poverty  targeting of social services.

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Middle East and North Africa (MENA)

  • Education Quality Improvement Program (EQIP) II in Tunisia - WB Board approved on March 10 a US$130 million loan for the second phase of an ongoing program to promote excellence in learning and teaching in Tunisia’s schools, while continuing to ensure the inclusion of children at all levels of the basic education system.   The Education Quality Improvement Program (EQIP) II  will seek to boost the enrollment rate for boys and girls in the age groups of 6-18 years, as well as the completion rate of basic education. The project will support the Government’s Education Action Plan for a better qualified labor force by developing stronger links between secondary education on the one hand and vocational training and higher education institutions on the other.  It will also help diversify the secondary education curriculum to make it more relevant to the Tunisian society and economy.
  • Three Projects To Promote Water Conservation, Enhance Access To Infrastructure And Services For Poor in Yemen - WB approved on March 1 a US$145 million credit for three projects in Yemen aimed at expanding access to basic services, addressing water scarcity in farm areas and providing essential infrastructure to improve services and environmental conditions in poor communities. The three projects respond to the Government's efforts to fight poverty through an economy-wide reform program to stimulate growth while ensuring that vulnerable segments of the population are protected. The projects fall in line with WB Country Assistance Strategy for Yemen, which aims to fight poverty by building human resources with emphasis on girls’ education and health, sustainable water management, job creation and public sector governance.
  • Children and Youth Strategy Development - In cooperation with several governments in MENA, the WB is preparing a regional study on children and youth. The paper is based on national studies in Morocco, Egypt, Yemen and Jordan, and grew out of a workshop held in 2003 on the needs of disadvantaged children in the region.  A follow-up workshop is planned for June, where two additional countries will participate: Iran and West Bank and Gaza. The Bank is working to incorporate a focus on children and youth into all projects in the region.  A region-wide children and youth strategy is also being developed.

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South Asia Region (SAR)

  • The Rajasthan Health Systems Project in India - The US$89 million credit for Rajasthan Health Systems Project was approved by the WB on March 11.  It will provide an expansion of access to health system to an expected three million outpatients and another 34,000 inpatients in the state of Rajasthan annually. The project will benefit the entire state's population but special emphasis will be placed on poor and underserved communities, reaching the remotest areas of this largely desert state.  The project is consistent with the Country Assistance Strategy objectives of supporting interventions of special benefit to the poor and disadvantaged.
  • Poverty Reduction Strategy Review for Pakistan - WB reviewed on March 11 the Joint Staff Assessment of Pakistan’s Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP), which was conducted by the staffs of the IMF and the WB.  The WB and IMF Board of Directors unanimously concurred with staff that the PRSP provides a credible poverty reduction strategy and a sound basis for IDA’s concessional assistance. The PRSP will be highlighted at the Pakistan Development Forum in Islamabad from March 17-19, 2004.  At the Forum, donors will discuss steps to assist the Government of Pakistan in fulfilling its poverty reduction strategy.
  • Village Banks to Empower Women in Sri Lanka - Five village banking units were launched on March 8 with financial support from the Japan Social Development Fund (JSDF), administered by the WB.  The units, located in southern part of the country, were inaugurated by the Women's Development Federation (WDF) in Sri Lanka, an NGO, led by women and currently operates 67 community-driven banking units.   The project is part of a grant of around US$900,000 approved in March of 2003. The aim of the initiative is to empower vulnerable women of lower income groups in a number of provinces of the country.

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9. New Publications from the World Bank

  • OED Review of Social Development in Bank Activities - The study identified 2,577 projects covered by recent OED evaluations.  The Review presents a number of specific findings, including: (a) WB's social development resources can be better used to support its social development goals; (b) in many countries, WB can provide an increased social development capacity in the field by making greater use of in-country institutions; (c) country teams need consistent access to essential social information to build social development into project designs and ensure that social development concerns are addressed during implementation; (d) WB mission and policy priorities related to social development receive uneven treatment across regions, and gaps in skills and monitoring and evaluation lead to uneven treatment within countries; and (e) the WB needs to do more to convince borrowing countries and even some of its own staff of the potential of social development.  The Review provides an important input to the WB's draft Strategic Priorities paper on Social Development, discussed in item 2 above in this newsletter.
  • Coffee Markets: New Paradigms in Global Supply & Demand - The report released on March 11, "Coffee Markets: New Paradigms in Global Supply & Demand", argues that rich countries’ agricultural subsidies represent an obstacle to potential diversification out of coffee. The report states that the consequences of the low prices have been an increase in poverty rates in many countries, and banking and balance-of-payments failures, resulting from the loss of export revenues.  This has been particularly acute in regions, such as in Africa and Central America, where the economic dependency on coffee is among the highest.  But even in countries with lower overall economic dependency on coffee, the increase in poverty rates among small farmers and the displacement of landless workers has had negative consequences.
  • When is Growth Pro-Poor: Cross-Country Evidence - This paper is a product of the Investment Climate, Development Research Group of the WB, and is part of a larger effort in the group to better understand the dynamics of pro-poor growth.  Its main finding is that growth in average incomes matters a great deal for reductions in both relative and absolute poverty.  This suggests that a policy package focusing on known determinants of growth in average incomes, such as the protection of property rights, stable macroeconomic policies and openness to international trade, should be at the heart of pro-poor growth strategies.  The results presented in the paper suggest that cross-country evidence is unlikely to be very informative about the policies and institutions that are likely to lead to poverty-reducing patterns of growth in relative incomes.  This in turn suggests that more micro-level and case-study research may be useful in shedding light on the determinants of poverty-reducing distributional change.
  • Agriculture and the WTO: Creating a Trading System for Development - This publication explores the key issues and options in agricultural trade liberalization from the perspective of the developing countries. Leading experts in trade and agriculture from both developed and developing countries provide key research findings and policy analyses on a range of issues that includes market access, domestic support, export competition, quota administration methods, food security, biotechnology, intellectual property rights, and agricultural trade under the Uruguay Round Agreement on Agriculture. Material is covered both in summary and in comprehensive detail with supporting data, a substantial bibliography, and listings of online resources.

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10. Upcoming Global Events/Discussions

  • World Bank Presence at 5th Biennial CIVICUS World Assembly, 21 - 25 March 2004, Gaborone, Botswana - WB President James Wolfensohn will be participating in the Assembly and delivering a plenary address on Tuesday, March 23.  Mr. Wolfensohn will also meet with youth delegates, CSO network leaders and with the reporters attending the Assembly.  Ian Goldin, WB Vice President for External Affairs, Communications and UN Affairs, will be participating in two sessions on WB – civil society relations.  WB staff will also conduct a workshop on social accountability, which will also discuss the work of the Civil Society Budget Initiative, a coalition of international civil society groups that specialize in independent budget work, and donors including DFID, SIDA, DANIDA, and the WB.
  • Knowledge Economy Forum in Budapest to Explore Competitiveness, March 23-26 - The WB and the Government of Hungary are sponsoring the third Knowledge Economy Forum (KEF), "Improving Competitiveness through a Knowledge-Based Economy," which will take place in Budapest from March 23-26.  KEF III will focus on the competitiveness agenda and on how a more dynamic, knowledge-intensive economic context can support innovation, competitiveness, and economic growth.   Delegates representing 22 Europe and Central Asian governments, international organizations, the private sector, civil society, and academia will convene to discuss the knowledge economy:  the new economic environment in which innovation and knowledge are replacing capital and labor as the primary wealth-creating assets. 
  • Second Stop TB Partners' Forum, March 24-26, New Delhi India - The second Stop TB Partners' Forum will be held 24-26 March in New Delhi, India. The Forum will convene ministerial delegations of the 22 highest tuberculosis burden countries, as well as high-level political invitees from the G-8 countries, and all Stop TB partners. There are nearly 200 Stop TB partner agencies involved in the process, including a range of NGOs. The meeting will highlight progress at country level and the importance of private and civil sector involvement. WB participants in the Forum include Vice President for the South Asia Region. Remarks will also be given by Bank’s Director for Heath Nutrition and Population.  Other senior staff will also be participating.

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  • Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington 25th Anniversary Recommitment Ceremony and Third Annual Richard W. Snowdon Lecture Featuring President of the World Bank, March 30  - The conference's theme is "Millennium Challenges for Faiths and Development: New Partnerships to Reduce Poverty and Strengthen Conservation."  Mr. Wolfensohn will deliver a lecture and answer questions from the participants in the event.  Also during the event, three $1000 scholarships provided by the Washington Post for the best essays based on Wolfensohn's lecture by high school, undergraduate and graduate school student will be presented.  The event is free, however tickets will be required.  More information can be found on the IFC website at: http://www.ifcmw.org.
     
  • ABCDE-Europe Conference, May 10-11 - The sixth ABCDE-Europe will bring together academics, policy makers, representatives from civil society and the private sector to exchange views on development challenges and the fight against poverty.  The theme of this year’s conference is “Doha, Monterrey and Johannesburg: Are we on track?  Invited speakers include Guy Verhofstadt (Prime Minister, Belgium), Amartya Sen (Harvard University, U.S.A.), Pascal Lamy (E.U. Trade Commissioner), Ali Babacan (Minister of State for Economy, Turkey), François Bourguignon (WB Chief Economist), Thierry Verdier (Director, Département et Laboratoire d'Economie Théorique et Appliquée-DELTA, France), Robert Lucas (Boston University, U.S.A.), John Sutton (London School of Economics, U.K.) and other leading economists and policy makers from Europe and the developing world.  The closing roundtable will bring together Romano Prodi (President, European Commission), Guy Verhofstadt (Prime Minister, Belgium) and WB President James Wolfensohn.

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11. Recent Global Events/Discussions

  • World Bank President Visits CARE Headquarters, March 2 - WB President James Wolfensohn visited CARE USA at its headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia to learn more about CARE's work globally and to discuss areas of mutual interest, including organizational learning and change management; rights-based approaches; and building public support for overseas development assistance.  During his visit, he met with Peter Bell, CEO and President of CARE, and his senior staff.  The meeting was followed by an exchange with a group of CARE staff and some of their Atlanta-based volunteers on the topic of the Millennium Development Goals.  WB and CARE staff also shared information on their respective programming in the area of HIV/AIDS, and possible areas for future collaboration.
  • Diverting Disaster: Helping the Poor Elude Nature's Wrath, On-line Discussion, March 16 - The WB launched in 2003  "Speak Out" - an online tool allowing all interested individuals to have a chance to talk online with Bank officials on a variety of issues.  On March 16, Margaret Arnold, head of the WB's Hazard Management Unit, participated in a live online discussion on disaster management in developing countries. She discussed with a number of participants what can be done to curb the devastation of natural disasters.  Please visit the Speak Out page to view the discussion, as well as other past and upcoming discussions.  Suggestions for future "Speak Out" dialogues are welcome.
  • Shanghai Poverty Conference: Recent Global Dialogues - Leading up to the Poverty Conference in Shanghai, May 25-27, 2004, a learning process has been initiated with an intend to draw on leading-edge information and communication technologies in bringing together actors from across the development community.  A series of videoconferences, online dialogues, and field visits are being organized ahead of the conference.  The objective of the dialogues is to discuss the draft case studies, and the conceptual approach to “scaling up,” and to help build a global community of learning. Summaries of all global dialogues are being posted on the web as they occur. The most recent dialogues include: (a) Dialogue on Community Driven Development with case studies from Bosnia and Ukraine, held on March 11; (b) Dialogue with Country Case Studies from Chile and Poland, also held on March 11, (c) Dialogue on Community Driven Development with case studies from India and Tajikistan, held on March 9; and (d) Dialogue on Land Reform with case studies from India and Azerbaijan, held on March 2.
  • 2nd Knowledge For Development Forum For Middle East, North Africa, March 15-16, Marseilles, France - The second annual Knowledge for Development Conference, sponsored by WB, and the Institut de la Méditerranée, explored the nexus of trade, competitiveness, and the knowledge economy. Following the launch of the Conference, was the opening of the Middle East and North Africa Knowledge Hub (MKH) in Marseilles. Using state-of-the-art information and communications technologies, the center will help boost capacity for knowledge sharing and learning in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
  • Conference on Opportunities and Challenges of CAFTA for Central America, March 17-18, San Salvador, El Salvador - Central American Ministers of Commerce and government authorities met on March 17 in San Salvador with officials from the private sector, academia, civil society, as well as representatives from multilateral agencies, including the WB, to analyze how Central American countries could gain from the proposed Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). The conference, “Opportunities and Challenges of CAFTA for Central America”, which is cosponsored by the WB and the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development, draws from preliminary findings from WB studies, as well as other analysis from the region. WB research suggests that potential benefits that CAFTA offers include the transfer of technology from the U.S., wider access to the U.S. market, and an increase in direct investment in Central American countries.

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