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Improving World Bank - Civil Society Engagement

Last updated: August 8, 2005

The World Bank's Board of Directors met on January 25, 2005 to discuss a paper entitled Issues and Options for Improving Engagement Between the World Bank and Civil Society Organizations.  The paper was prepared by the Bank's Civil Society Team, comprised of staff from the External Affairs, Communications and United Nations Affairs (EXT), Environmentally and Socially Sustainable Development (ESSD) and Operations Policy and Country Services (OPCS) Vice Presidential departments at the Bank.

Board members were broadly supportive of the paper's analysis of the key lessons and issues that have emerged over the past few years of the Bank's experience of engaging CSOs in development operations and in policy dialogue, and also supported the 10-point action plan aimed at improving the Bank's engagement with CSOs, outlined in the paper.  These points are: 

  1. Establish new global mechanisms for Bank-CSO engagement to help promote mutual understanding and cooperation.
  2. Establish a Bank-wide advisory service/focal point for consultations and an institutional framework for consultation management and feedback.
  3. Pilot a new Bank-wide monitoring and evaluation system for civic engagement.
  4. Conduct a review of Bank funds available for civil society engagement in operations and policy dialogue, and explore possible realignment or restructuring.
  5. Review the Bank’s procurement framework with a view toward facilitating collaboration with CSOs.
  6. Institute an integrated learning program for Bank staff and member governments on how to engage CSOs more effectively, as well as capacity-building for CSOs on how to work effectively with the Bank and its member governments.
  7. Hold regular meetings of senior management, and periodically with the Board, to review Bank-civil society relations.
  8. Develop and issue new guidelines for Bank staff on the institution’s approach, best practices, and a framework for engagement with CSOs.
  9. Emphasize the importance of civil society engagement in the guidance to Bank staff on the preparation of the CAS as well as in CAS monitoring and evaluation.
  10. Develop tools for analytical mapping of civil society to assist country and task teams in determining the relevant CSOs to engage on a given issue, project or strategy.

Board members underscored the imortance of Bank-CSO engagement in improving development effectiveness, contributing to poverty reduction and attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). 

Earlier drafts of the paper were reviewed by senior management and staff across the Bank over the course of 2003.  The earlier draft of the paper was posted in October 2003 for public comment, and comments were solicited via an electronic Discussion Forum and a number of face-to-face meetings and video dialogues with CSOs between November 2003 and February 2004.  Annex A of the final version of the paper provides a matrix summarizing the comments received in 2003 and how they were addressed in the subsequent revision of the paper.

Questions about the paper may be directed to: Civil Society Team.

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