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Civil Society Engagement eNewsletter - February 2006

MAIN STORIES:

*  NEWS FROM THE WORLD BANK'S REGIONAL DEPARTMENTS
*  NEW PUBLICATIONS FROM THE WORLD BANK
*  UPCOMING AND ONGOING GLOBAL EVENTS/DISCUSSIONS
*  RECENT GLOBAL EVENTS/DISCUSSIONS


1.  Spring Meetings of the World Bank and IMF:  Initial Information for CSOs - The Spring Meetings of the Boards of the WB and the IMF will be held in 2006 on April 22 and 23.  As in previous years, a program of Policy Dialogues for accredited CSOs will be organized by WB's Civil Society Team in cooperation with other teams across the Bank and IMF.  These dialogues will be held between Thursday, April 21 and Monday, April 24.  Please note that all CSOs who wish to participate in these dialogues as well as in all open official Spring Meetings events over the weekend, will need to obtain accreditation.  The accreditation process will be fully automated and on-line.  Details of the accreditation requirements as well as initial information on the planned Policy Dialogues for CSOs, will become available by March 1 on WB's website for civil society: http://www.worldbank.org/civilsociety.  If you have any questions about the Spring Meetings, please send an email to: civilsociety@worldbank.org.

2.  Multilateral Development Banks Agree on Common Approach to Fight Corruption - On February 18, the leaders of the African Development Bank, Asian Development Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, European Investment Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the International Monetary Fund and the WB agreed on the need to standardize their definition of corruption, to improve the consistency of their investigative rules and procedures, to strengthen information sharing, and to assure compliance and enforcement actions taken by one institution are supported by all of five others.  The leaders established a task force to report to them bi-monthly on progress made to develop a uniform Framework for Preventing and Combating Fraud and Corruption with the goal of concluding an agreement by the September Annual Meetings of the WB Group and the IMF.  The leaders also agreed to work together to develop concrete proposals to assist countries over the longer term in strengthening their capacity to combat corruption and to improve cooperation with CSOs and other stakeholders and institutions such as the press and judiciary with the goal to enhance transparency and accountability.  More

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3.  Avian Flu After Beijing Conference: World Bank Role - The WB hopes to have arrangements in place within the next month for a trust fund to handle some of the millions of dollars pledged by the international community to fight avian influenza.  The international community promised US$1.9 billion to tackle avian flu and prepare for a possible human flu pandemic at the January meeting in Beijing, with the largest commitments coming from the US and the European countries.  The Head of the WB’s Avian Flu Taskforce, Jim Adams, notes that while the Beijing meeting saw funding earmarked for specific countries, there was interest from Europe as well as Russia, China, and Australia in contributing to a trust fund, managed by WB.  The first WB project on avian flu for the Kyrgyz Republic, worth US$4 million was approved on February 9. More  At this stage the two regions most affected – East Asia and Eastern Europe – are the regions where new WB programs are most likely to emerge, but Africa is a priority, being on a critical flight path for migratory birds coming from infected regions.  At the global level, Adams says there’s also likely to be another meeting later in the spring to assess action since the Beijing pledging conference. More

4.  World Bank President Talks to G8 Finance Ministers' About Debt, Trade and Energy - The WB president attended the G8 Ministers of Finance meeting held in preparation of the G8 Summit, which Russia will host in July this year. The WB has traditionally been engaged on both technical and leadership level in G8 discussions on global development issues and in implementing development initiatives launched by the G8.  Mr. Wolfowitz spoke on the issues of debt relief, trade and energy.  Wolfowitz confirmed that the WB was on its way to complete all the technical work for the full implementation of the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI) by July 1, 2006.  On trade, Wolfowitz called for successful completion of the Doha Round world trade talks.  In his intervention he also stressed that large scale investments will be needed in the next 10 - 15 years to provide access to clean and reliable energy in the rapidly growing developing world.  With a mandate from Gleneagles, WB is preparing a policy and investment framework for supporting low-carbon and efficient technologies, necessary for achieving the MDGs.  Other issues on the agenda included tackling infectious diseases and combating money laundering. More

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5.  First Visit by Bank President to Germany - On the invitation of the German Government, Paul Wolfowitz visited Berlin on January 29−30, 2006. The WB President met with the President of Germany, leading ministers, and representatives of Parliament, civil society, and the private sector. The discussions focused on the development agenda, poverty reduction, Africa, post-conflict situations, renewable energies, and the Doha round of trade negotiations as well as on reaching measurable results.  In all meetings, there was a marked interest in further strengthening the partnership between Germany and the WB. Wolfowitz's priority focus on Africa was widely welcomed and his emphasis on poverty reduction, transparency and measurable results were supported by government and other stakeholders.  More

6.  IFC Safeguard Policies Update - The final draft Safeguard Policies are being considered by IFC's Board on February 21.  The draft Policy and Performance Standards on Social and Environmental Sustainability was made available for public comment during a 60-day window from September 22-November 25, 2005.  Comments received Currently IFC is disclosing Implementation Documents - the February 2006 revised working draft of the Environmental and Social Review Procedure and the Guidance Notes (finalized in September 2005).  The Procedure along with Guidance Notes does not require board approval and do not constitute policy requirements. They are advisory in nature, however they are important to understanding the policy framework underpinning the revision of IFC’s current Safeguard Policies.  Guidance Notes provide helpful guidance to IFC clients (and staff) on the requirements of the Performance Standards (which detail the requirements of IFC clients in order to receive and retain IFC support.)  Environmental and Social Review Procedure speaks to IFC’s roles and responsibilities in its partnership with clients.  More 

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7.  World Bank Statement at Conclusion of Initial Discussions With Chadian Officials - On January 6 the WB decided to suspend disbursements to Chad.  (read press release) Following that decision, delegations from the WB Group and the Government of the Republic of Chad, met on January 30 to hold talks on poverty reduction programs and accountability in public finance management.  WB statement says: "Both delegations agreed to return to brief their authorities on the status of the talks.  The WB Group seeks to establish a mutual understanding of the facts related to Chad’s critical needs and budget shortfalls while ensuring that funds reach Chad’s poorest citizens and displaced people and refugees caused by the conflict in Darfur. The Bank Group also is determined to safeguard the oil revenues intended for poverty reduction programs included in its original agreement with Chad.  Escrowed funds will be protected while discussions continue.  World Bank Group representatives commended the Chadian officials for their constructive approach to the discussions and both parties agreed to continue the consultations."  More

8.  2006 Global Development Marketplace Finalists Announced - The competition focused on “Innovations in Water, Sanitation, and Energy Services for Poor People” is in full swing. One hundred and nineteen finalists have been selected to showcase their projects on May 8-9 in Washington DC. The finalists were selected through a rigorous peer review process consisting of three rounds of assessment made possible by contribution of some 240 sector development specialists from the WB Group and over 50 different development partner organizations. 53% of the finalist proposals came from CSOs. Interestingly, in turn, an estimated 47% of these CSOs are partnering with private businesses. Proposals engage a wide array of stakeholders, ranging from the provision of water and sanitation facilities for HIV/AIDS affected communities in southern Africa, to building decentralized renewable energy-based technology power plants in India; and from the involvement of nature clubs in water quality monitoring in Bhutan to raising hygiene awareness among all generations through role playing and theater in Peru. To see the full list of finalists, and to stay informed, please visit the Development Marketplace website: http://www.developmentmarketplace.org.

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9.  International Essay Competition for Youth Launched - In today's world young people are making a difference. They are working to solve community problems, such as lack of access to education or jobs, the spread of HIV/AIDS or conflict.  Yet, the impact of their work does not always receive enough exposure and recognition.  The WB and its partners invite interested young people to participate in the International Essay Competition 2006 to share their experience and ideas on community work and participation in public life.  They may choose from one of the topics: (a) How do you contribute to solving community problems? or (b) How do you influence decision-making?  Submission deadline is April 2, 2006.  The award for the first place is $5,000 and for the runners-up - $1,000.  All information can be found at: http://www.essaycompetition.org.

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NEWS FROM THE WORLD BANK'S REGIONAL DEPARTMENTS

Africa (AFR)

Kenya and the World Bank: Latest Facts - On January 24, 2006, the WB approved two credits for Kenya which bring the number of active operations to 14 and the total commitment to US$718.8 million.  The Institutional Reform and Capacity Building Project (US$25 million) will support the Government's fight against corruption.  The East African Trade and Transport Facilitation project(US$120 million) aims to improve the efficiency of trade supply chains and main trade routes, reducing the room for corruption in the trading system of four East African countries, including Kenya.  Five operations are scheduled for WB Board presentation by end-June 2006, some pending completion of review by the Bank’s Department of Institutional Integrity (INT). These operations total US$260.5 million.  More

Guinea Receives Additional Financing from the World Bank for the First Phase of the Village Communities Support Program - The WB Board approved on January 24, 2006, an IDA grant of US$7 million, providing additional funding for the first phase of the program. The aim is to increase access of rural population to basic infrastructure and services through the setting up of a decentralized system catering to local development needs. The grant funding will help to scale up decentralized and participatory rural development through the geographical expansion of the program. The activities to be funded by the grant are fully consistent with the Country Assistance Strategy, the PRSP and the Africa Action Plan. The program will contribute to foster sustainable and equitable growth by improving access to markets for village communities and improving access to and quality of basic social services. It will also improve governance and build institutional and human capacity through training, support to decentralization and empowerment of local populations.  More

Uganda: Joint Assistance Strategy and World Bank Approval of US$135 Million for Fifth Poverty Reduction Support Operation - The WB Board approved on January 17, 2006, an IDA grant of US$112.5 million and a credit of US$22.5 million to finance the fifth Poverty Reduction Support Operation (PRSC5). The Joint Strategy presents plans of 7 development partners for 2005-9 and provides the basis for the partners' support for the implementation of the government's new Poverty Eradication Action Plan (PEAP) covering 2005/6 - 2008/9 and has been collaboratively prepared by the UJAS partners. The WB commended Uganda for its good economic performance but expressed concern about aspects of political governance and urged the Government to continue to strengthen its anti-corruption institutions and its systems of public financial management to reduce opportunities for corruption, intensify its efforts to bring peace and development to the north and adopt measures to address its exceptionally high population growth rate which impedes progress toward PEAP objectives and the MDGs.  More

African Ministers, Officials and Development Partners Meet in Accra, Agree on Agenda for Cooperation to Accelerate Progress Toward the MDGs - The Strategic Partnership with Africa held its annual Plenary Meeting on January 17-18, 2006, to discuss issues critical to reducing poverty and accelerating progress toward achieving the MDGs. Officials from 13 African countries, from African regional organizations and all major multilateral and bilateral development finance institutions and support agencies, participated. The meetings were sponsored by the WB and hosted by Ghana. Key messages that emerged include a broad agreement that shared growth is central to achieving the MDGs and that there is a need to ensure that donor sectoral allocations of aid reflect national priorities; concerns as to how countries will manage the scaling up of promised financial support after the G8 Gleneagles Summit; and the need for donors to ensure that their support encourages capacity development and discourages the use of donor technical assistance that weakens government institutions.  More


East Asia and the Pacific (EAP)

China Development Marketplace - The WB will sponsor representatives of the 100 finalist projects of the China Development Marketplace (CDM) to come to Beijing for the project exhibition and competition for the awards. A jury for the CDM is being set up, comprising of senior representatives of the CDM government partners, multilateral and bilateral agencies, private sector, CSOs and academia. CDM was co-sponsored by the WB, State Council Leading Group Office for Poverty Alleviation and Development and the Ministry of Civil Affairs, with full support by the Ministry of Finance. Launched last June, it received 975 project proposals from CSOs all over China and through 2 rounds of assessments, 100 best project proposals were selected.  More

China Increasing Its Use of Renewable Energy As Power Demand Grows - The WB Board approved on February 7, 2006 an $86.33 million loan to scale up China's use of renewable energy with the increase in the demand for power in China. The loan would involve the follow-up project to the 2005 China Renewable Energy Scale-Up Program Phase 1 to develop a large wind farm in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, as well as rehabilitate and develop selected small hydropower projects in Zhejiang Province. The overall renewable energy scale-up program aims to develop the Chinese commercial market for energy suppliers to provide renewable energy to the electricity grid on a large scale in an efficient and cost-effective way.  More

International Donors Approve USD 3 Million to Support Primary Education in Timor-Leste - International donors, through the Education For All - Fast Track Initiative (FTI) Catalytic Fund, have announced a grant of US$3 million in support of the Government of Timor-Leste's primary education strategy in 2006. The Strategic Plan for Universal Primary Education has 3 main objectives: improving access and equity in access, increasing quality and relevance of primary education, and improving education system and school management. Timor-Leste has made remarkable progress in its education sector since the restoration of independence, yet there are still many children out of primary school or dropping out before completion.  More


Europe and Central Asia (ECA)

Armenia: World Bank Supports Implementation of Poverty Reduction Strategy - The WB approved on January 19, 2006, a Second Poverty Reduction Support Credit (PRSC) for Armenia worth US$20 million. The second project in a three-year World Bank program, it is designed around 4 themes and targeted to support the implementation of the government's Poverty Reduction Strategy Program (PRSP). The 4 themes include: consolidating macroeconomic discipline and strengthening governance, sharpening competition and entrenching property rights, social and environmental risks, and interventions in the rural economy. The project will also be support by a 4.7 million euros co-financing grant from the Government of the Netherlands, which together with PRSC II, will support the state budget.  More

Czech Republic Graduation - The Czech Republic is making official its graduation from WB borrowing at a ceremony on February 28. Since it joined the Bank in 1991, the Czech Republic has received US$626 million in IBRD loans, though cooperation involved primarily analytical and advisory services after 1998. The Czech Republic contributes to IDA and is one of the eight countries spearheading the Decade of Roma Inclusion, in partnership with the Bank. WB President will attend the ceremony.  More

Kyrgyz Republic Country Office Small Grants Program - The WB office in Bishkek is launching 2006 Small Grants program, with proposals being collected until end of March, to be reviewed in April-May. The grants for winning proposals will be awarded around May 20. The maximum amount of a grant is US$ 3000. The Small Grants Program would like to see that its grants help leverage additional contributions from other sources.  Applicant organizations are encouraged to describe how a grant from the WB might help them to raise matching funds from other donors. During 1996-2005, the WB funded more than 81 projects of Kyrgyz CSOs for a total amount of US$211, 000.  More

World Bank Supports Avian Influenza Preparedness, Response in the Kyrgyz Republic - The WB Board approved on February 9, 2006 an IDA grant in the amount of US$4 million for the Avian Influenza Control & Human Pandemic Preparedness & Response Project for the Kyrgyz Republic. It is the first country to draw resources from a US$500 million global facility broadly endorsed by the Board on January 12. The project will be cofinanced by a grant from the Government of Japan in the amount of US$1 million. With a total cost of US$6.4 million, the project will help minimize the threat posed to humans and poultry by the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) infection and to prepare for, control and respond to future outbreaks.  More

Tajikistan: World Bank Statement of Clarification on Debt - Some news services incorrectly reported on January 24, 2006 that the WB plans to write off Tajikistan's debt to the WB, an issue which was raised during the visit of Senior Vice President and Chief Economist to Tajikistan. However, no commitments were made. Mr. Bourguignon noted to the press that the IMF had cancelled Tajikistan's debt to the IMF through the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI) based on the IMF's determination that it should extend relief beyond the HIPC target group in order to ensure equal treatment as required under IMF rules. Although the MDRI is an initiative common the IMF, the WB and the African Development Fund, the decision to grant debt relief is the separate responsibility of each institution and reduction or cancellation of Tajikistan's debt by WB is not possible under current procedures, due to WB relief having restricted coverage to HIPC countries. However, Mr. Bourguignon mentioned that the MDRI initiative could lead to additional resources for Tajikistan, allocated through standards IDA allocation rules.  More


Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC)

Latin America Needs To Cut Poverty To Boost Growth - A new WB report: "Poverty Reduction and Growth - Virtuous and Vicious Circles", says Latin American countries need to fight poverty more aggressively if they want to grow more and compete with China and other dynamic Asian economies.  According to the report while growth is key for poverty reduction, poverty itself is hindering growth in LAC countries.  LAC remains one of the most unequal regions in the world with close to one person in four living on less than US$2.00 a day. The report looks at how poverty affects growth.  It proposes some priorities for a pro-growth poverty reduction strategy.  It says as the poor are often disadvantaged in several ways, it’s important to coordinate public investments and policies in the different areas to maximize their impact.  These kinds of strategies are particularly important to complement policies like trade liberalization, which are essential for long-term growth and poverty reduction, but can also have negative short-term effects on poverty and inequality.  More


Middle East and North Africa (MENA)

The World Bank Lebanon and Yemen Offices Launch 2006 Small Grants Program  - Both the WB Lebanon Office and Yemen Office have launched their 2006 Small Grants Program for CSOs. Created in 1983, the Small Grants Program (SGP) complements and facilitates the social development agenda of the WB through its focus on civic engagement. SGP provides CSOs the opportunity to compete with programs that aim to build local capacity, leverage social capital and strengthen partnerships with local and other CSOs. The Program encourages new and innovative ideas and solutions, as well as participatory approaches, to solving local problems. More information on the application process and timeline for each country is available at: Lebanon SGP  Yemen SGP


South Asia (SAR)
 
Afghanistan: World Bank Pledges $1.2 Billion to Support Development - The WB announced a pledge of US$1.2 billion to Afghanistan at a major donor conference in London in early February, adding to the US$10.5 billion total pledged to Afghanistan at the high-level donors conference. The Afghanistan Compact agreed upon between the international donor community and the Government of Afghanistan sets out, among a list of goals for the next 5 years, a commitment to avoid undermining national institution building to ensure ownership of its development program. The 24 donors of the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF) also met following the conference on details of improving use of this mechanism that provides funds directly to the government's budget to meet its priorities. The ARTF is administered by the WB with contributions channeled through the government's budget and carefully monitored to ensure fiduciary standards are adhered to. The resources have been used to fund recurrent government spending and support 12 projects so far that are providing services and infrastructure.  More

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NEW PUBLICATIONS FROM THE WORLD BANK

Pension Reform and the Development of Pension Systems: An Evaluation of World Bank Assistance - The Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) of the WB on February 2, 2006 released a report that assesses the relevance of the WB’s pension reform strategy, the quality of WB support, and the resulting development outcomes between 1984 and 2004. The first comprehensive, independent evaluation of the WB’s involvement in pension reform, the report has important messages and broad relevance for practitioners and policymakers.  Overall, while individual project outcomes were found to be largely satisfactory, fundamental policy issues of old age poverty and inadequate coverage remain unresolved. To ensure well-tailored support and consistent policy advice, the report makes a case for guidelines for the development of pension operations. It also makes three key recommendations for greater effectiveness.  More

Almost Three Billion People Seek Access to Basic Financial Services - Access to financial services can help poor and low-income clients increase and stabilize their incomes, build assets, and invest in their own future. A new book: "Access for All: Building Inclusive Financial Systems" published by CGAP and the WB describes how microfinance can help poor people to become part of the financial mainstream.  The book presents where the microfinance field finds itself in 2006, as well as the opportunities and challenges ahead. It examines all levels of the financial system and answers key questions about clients of microfinance.  It demonstrates that when international and domestic providers, governments, and financial service providers commit themselves to the vision of inclusive financial systems, the results are impressive.  The book addresses the hotly-debated topics in microfinance today.  With only about one sixth of those who could use basic financial services currently having access, the book shows how to bridge that gap and reach the majority of the world’s population – the poor.  More

New World Bank Report on Its Lending to Agriculture Sector - A new status report, released on February 6, 2006, shows that WB lending to the agriculture sector increased sharply to $2.1 billion in the last fiscal year.  With 65 new projects that had agriculture sector components, FY05 (July 2005-June 2005) lending showed a 40 percent increase over FY04 lending of $1.5 billion.  Among agricultural sub-sectors, the irrigation and drainage sub-sector was the strongest, accounting for just over $1 billion, or almost 50 percent of lending, and an increase of $300 million over FY04 figures.  The report outlines a detailed program for reinvigorating the international community’s engagement in agriculture and rural development.  The Strategy’s main thrust is to integrate the needs of the rural poor in national policy investment programs. Simultaneously, it advocates to reform industrial country agricultural trade and aid policies.  More

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UPCOMING AND ONGOING GLOBAL EVENTS/DISCUSSIONS

Discussion: Will Responsible Business Increase the Competitiveness of Developing Countries? - The Private Sector Development Team of the WB Group is having an online discussion between February 1-27, 2006, on whether responsible business would increase the competitiveness of developing countries. Questions to be explored include whether multi-sector partnerships can really be more effective than current corporate and government initiatives and whether responsible competitiveness benefit small domestic firms, not just global brands, why competitiveness "gurus" are reluctant to embrace responsible business practices, and the role of donors in improving public policy, enforce regulatory standards or back multi-sector initiatives.  More

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RECENT GLOBAL EVENTS/DISCUSSIONS

Gender Equality: The Forgotten Millennium Development Goal - Gender equality, a key component for growth and poverty reduction, was the central focus of a conference entitled “Meeting the Gender Equality MDG: Addressing the Implementation Challenge” held on February 16 at the WB in Washington, DC. The high-level event was hosted by the WB in partnership with the Governments of Norway and the United Kingdom, the OECD-DAC Network on Gender Equality, UNIFEM, and the UN Division for the Advancement of Women and the UN Millennium Project. It assembled policy makers and experts on global development and gender equality.  WB President spoke at the opening of the conference, noting that gender is a development issue.  He stressed that "All they [women] need is the opportunity.  It is time we do everything we can to help them get it."  The participants stimulated new momentum among development partners for a joint effort on the subject and issued an urgent call for immediate steps to address gender imbalances worldwide. More

World Bank Economics Conference in St. Petersburg January 18-19, 2006 - Transition, economic growth and inequality were themes discussed by world-class economists and other specialists at the WB's Annual Conference on Development Economics (ABCDE) held in St. Petersburg, Russia on January 18-19, 2006. The conference is an opportunity for researchers to present and discuss new research on the factors behind development and poverty reduction. The presentations featured this year include themes on Growth After Transition: Is Rising Inequality Inevitable?, Economic Space, Governance and Judiciary Foundations of a Market System. The ABCDE conference was followed by the Eastern Europe and Central Asia Policy Workshop on Education and Global Development held on January 19.  The workshop provided insights into global education challenges critical for economic growth, and an opportunity for Russian experts to share new ideas in this area that Russia would seek to emphasize under its G8 leadership.  More

Global Issues Seminar Series: Climate Change - The Global Issues Seminar Series, organized by the External Affairs Department of the WB, has moved on to the final part of the series on Saving the Planet. The most recent session was on the issue of Climate Change, where Chief Scientist and Senior Advisor, Robert Watson, and Senior Climate Change Specialist, Ian Noble, discussed with students from different parts of the world via videoconferencing, the Bank's work on climate change as well as implications for the global frameworks in place. More information and live video links of the various previous sessions of the Global Issues Seminar Series can be found on the website: http://www.worldbank.org/globalseries.

Presentation of a book by Dr. Jared Diamond: "Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed" - Best known for his book "Guns, Germs and Steel", Dr. Jared Diamond presented the thesis of his new book "Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed" at WB headquarters on January 19, 2006. He provided an overview of his book and answered questions about his theories. He noted the phenomenon of the rise and fall of civilizations with great infrastructure built only to be abandoned completely subsequently. He pointed out deforestation and population control as important factors in societal lifecycles and compared this to the problem of modern societies in facing the same problems leading to collapse of civilizations. Diamond noted other factors such as outside enemies, trade partners, of importance for sustenance of some societies and why some civilizations are capable of overcoming obstacles such as these while others are overwhelmed by them. He stressed to the audience a leading indicator of collapse as that of high infant mortality and contrasted the consumption rate of the developed world to that of the developing world.  More

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The Newsletter 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. We welcome your comments and feedback to make this newsletter as useful as possible. You can subscribe to the Newsletter using a new registration page: http://www.worldbank.org/civilsocietyengagementnewsletter/. Please share your comments on the Newsletter with us: civilsociety@worldbank.org.  Past issues of the Newsletter.




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