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Civil Society Engagement eNewsletter - March 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:  Deadline for Accreditation for CSOs - The 2006 Spring Meetings of the Boards of the WB and the IMF will be held in Washington, DC on April 22 and 23.  As in previous years, a program of Policy Dialogues for accredited CSOs will be organized by the 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 related events, need to obtain accreditation.  The accreditation process will close on March 31 !!! Details of the accreditation requirements as well as initial information on the planned Policy Dialogues for CSOs, can be found on WB's website for civil society WB's website for CSOs.  If you have any questions about the Spring Meetings, please send an email to: civilsociety@worldbank.org.

2.  Singapore Annual Meetings of the World Bank and IMF: Initial Information for CSOs - The Annual Meetings of Boards of Governors of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group have customarily been held in Washington for two consecutive years and in another member country in the third year.  In 2006 the Annual Meetings and related events will be held in Singapore from September 13 - 20.  The Civil Society Teams at the Bank and Fund will organize a Civil Society Policy Forum for accredited civil society representatives attending the Annual Meetings.  The WB has begun reaching out to CSOs in the Asia and Pacific region in an effort to be responsive to the interests of CSOs who wish to participate in the Meetings and to ensure that they have a prominent voice in the discussions taking place at the Annual Meetings.  An initial CSO planning workshop will be held in Singapore March 28-29.  The WB civil society team recently prepared a concept note which outlines the process for consultation leading up to the Meetings.  More

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3.  Getting Gender Back on Track - 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” hosted by the WB in Washington on February 16.  The event assembled policy makers and experts on global development and gender equality.  The participants issued an urgent call for immediate steps to address gender imbalances worldwide.  According to the WB, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are likely to fail on their third goal – gender equality – because of lack of adequate financial and political support. Even though the situation of women and girls has significantly improved over the last 10 years, gender inequalities are still prevalent in both developed and developing countries. The quality and quantity of the resources spent on gender issues have to be raised significantly.  If the efforts for an increase in commitment for gender equality are not stepped up, the trends monitored by the WB show that development community will miss the mark.  More

4.  WB President Makes Strong Case for WB's Role in Middle Income Countries - On February 28, WB President Wolfowitz made a strong case for the WB’s continued engagement in middle-income countries such as China, Brazil, Russia or Poland. Speaking in Prague on the occasion of the Czech Republic’s formal graduation from borrower to donor status at the Bank, Wolfowitz said, “There are many people who argue today that the World Bank has no business working with middle-income countries because they are rich and they have access to so much private capital. I don't agree.”   He noted that the WB is committed to shoring up progress and growth in middle-income countries for strategic reasons, and that because of their experience, middle-income countries act as a crucial link in the transmission of development knowledge to poorer countries.  Middle-income countries are “indispensable to the mission of the World Bank Group to fight poverty worldwide,” said Wolfowitz.  More

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5.  World Bank's New Renewable Energy Toolkit - The WB recently launched a new tool to improve the design and implementation of Renewable Energy initiatives in developing countries.  The Renewable Energy Toolkit: An Operational Guide for Electric Services (REToolKit) incorporates best practices and lessons-learned, and addresses implementation needs at each stage of the project cycle, aiming to lower the costs and the time for project preparation, to result in more effective Renewable Energy projects.  It will serve as a comprehensive renewable energy reference for WB staff and others to use, bringing together the knowledge and best practice from the WB and elsewhere.  It is designed to help in development and implementation of renewable energy projects, advice on appropriate policies and regulatory frameworks, guide the adoption of sustainable business models and finance mechanisms, and assist in technology selection.  More

6.  Donors Assess Progress Toward the MDG of Universal Primary Education - The meeting of major international donors for the Education for All compact was held on March 14 in Moscow.  The participants - 25 bilateral, regional and international agencies and development banks - gathered to discuss progress toward the Millennium Development Goal of Universal Primary Education by 2015.  Russia wants to play a leadership role in the Education for All - Fast Track Initiative, and committed both financial support, and promised that education will be on the top of the agenda of the upcoming G8 meeting in St. Petersburg later this year.  The donors noted that the upcoming G-8 meeting in St. Petersburg will be an opportunity for the donors to keep their promises and announce their expected future commitments to support the EFA goal.  More

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NEWS FROM THE WORLD BANK'S REGIONAL DEPARTMENTS

Africa (AFR)

Republic of Congo Reaches Decision Point Under the Enhanced HIPC Debt Relief Initiative - The WB’s International Development Association (IDA) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have determined that the Republic of Congo qualifies for debt relief by reaching the decision point under the enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative. These decisions are based on the country having put in place external arrears clearance operations, remained on track with an IMF-supported program, and developed an interim Poverty Reduction Strategy. The Republic of Congo becomes the 29th country to reach its decision point under the HIPC Initiative.  The Government will begin receiving interim debt relief from certain creditors, but it must address serious concerns held by the WB, IMF and donor countries about governance and financial transparency in order to qualify for irrevocable debt relief at the completion point under the Initiative. Interim debt relief will increase the resources available to the country to finance poverty reduction programs, fight corruption, and support on-going financial and structural reforms. The Government has agreed to undertake a broad array of measures to ensure that the resources freed from debt service obligations are used for poverty reduction, under a reform program that will be closely monitored by IDA and IMF.  More

World Bank Establishes Africa Catalytic Growth Fund - The Board of Directors of the WB Group approved the creation of the Africa Catalytic Growth Fund (ACGF) to provide targeted financial support to accelerate shared economic growth and to assist in the achievement of Millennium Development Goals.  The fund is a result of the WB's Africa Action Plan to Support African Countries, approved in 2005, which sets out a framework for supporting development results in Africa, with an emphasis on accelerating economic growth. The new multi-donor trust fund would complement existing International Development Association (IDA) development programs by providing rapid financing for country programs to be selected according to specific criteria to address specific constraints holding back their potential for shared growth.  The ACGF also stems from the commitment by international donors to increase development assistance to Africa. International donors are being encouraged to contribute as much as $1 billion to the ACGF, which will be managed by the WB. The United Kingdom already has pledged British pounds 200 million to the fund for the 2006-2008 period. The fund, which is considered a pilot financing vehicle, will be subject to an independent evaluation after three years of operation.  More

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East Asia and the Pacific (EAP)

Consultative Group Meeting on Cambodia - The 8th Consultative Group (CG) Meeting on Cambodia was held in Phnom Penh on March 2-3.  It was chaired by the WB and attended by donors, development organizations, and the Government of Cambodia, with the participation of civil society and private sector representatives.  The meeting ended with the Government and its development partners agreeing that there was reason for optimism – given the past decade’s progress and the last year’s accomplishments on growth and reform in the country.  However, to sustain the progress over the last decade made possible in large part by the transition from war to peace, the Government and development partners will need to redouble their efforts to implement reforms and improve aid effectiveness.  The delegates agreed that efforts to create a more open atmosphere for debate and dialogue, and providing citizens with the opportunities and tools to raise concerns and ask for change, need to be continued, as they can significantly improve the prospects of successful reform.  More

China Development Marketplace - In partnership with the State Council Leading Group Office for Poverty Reduction and Development and the Ministry of Civil Affairs, the WB's China Development Marketplace was held on February 24 in Beijing, with 30 Chinese groups receiving over US$650,000 in grant funding.  The theme of the China Development Marketplace was "Supporting Innovations for Scaling-Up Services that Reach the Poor", reflecting the joint efforts of the WB and the Government of China to work with CSOs and mobilize all resources to fight poverty. Selected out of 100 finalists, the 30 winners proposed innovative approaches to reducing poverty through a range of different approaches.  More

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Europe and Central Asia (ECA)

A joint European Commission / World Bank Corporate Social Responsibility Conference, Brussels, February 20, 2006 - More than 200 participants representing the business community, government, CSOs, public authorities, trade unions and the media from various European countries gathered in Brussels to discuss how to promote Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in the new European Union member states.  The conference was an opportunity to take stock of the current dynamics of CSR in the new member states, both among multinationals and domestic companies, and to share the perspectives of different stakeholder groups on how best to overcome challenges and seize opportunities to promote the practice of CSR.  In his opening remarks EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities called for a pro-active approach to promoting CSR to overcome the lack of trust among the State, businesses, and the emerging civil society in the new member states, and to build constructive partnerships among these groups.  More

The 1st Eastern European and Central Asian AIDS conference, Moscow, May 15-17, 2006 - This event, which is an outcome of the 2004 International AIDS Conference in Bangkok, will be organized by the Federal Service for Supervision of Consumers Protection and Welfare in the Russian Federation, UNAIDS, and the International AIDS Society (IAS) with Russian NGO AIDS Infoshare appointed as local host. The conference, expected to gather around 1500 delegates, aims to strengthen and consolidate a large-scale response to HIV/AIDS in the region through enhanced high-level political commitment and leadership, technical capacity building as well as partnerships with people living with HIV and CSOs.  More

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South Asia (SAR)

 
World Bank Suspends Support to Project in India - The WB has temporarily suspended financial support to the roads and resettlement components of the Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP) until concerns around the equitable treatment of people affected by the works are resolved.  MUTP is an ambitious road and rail renewal plan which involves the involuntary resettlement of more than 17,000 households, and about 2,500 shops and small industrial units.  Serious problems have arisen with the resettlement of some households, which has not been carried out in compliance with agreements between the Bank and the state government. In addition, a grievance system for those seeking redress is not working properly.  The WB plans to work closely with the government to support its efforts to ensure satisfactory outcomes for the affected people. Once progress has been made, the Bank will review the suspension.  More

New Public Information Center in Pakistan - Praful, Patel, WB Vice President for the South Asia Region ,opened on March 14 the Public Information Center (PIC) at the WB's Islamabad office.  The opening ceremony was attended by WB managers and representatives of civil society, academia, researchers, media and youth.  The online research facility will enable visitors to access information about Bank-financed development projects in Pakistan, Economic and Sectoral Reports, and links to other development and knowledge sites both within and outside the Bank. The PIC will also provide a space and a platform for broadening the discussion and debate on developmental issues. More

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NEW PUBLICATIONS FROM THE WORLD BANK

Attacking Africa's Poverty: Experience from the Ground - The authors note that by all measures, poverty in Africa as a whole has increased and deepened. But in fact, Africa contains a number of undocumented success stories of poverty reduction, they say. This book presents case studies of 13 success stories as a learning tool for policymakers, governments, businesses, service providers, CSOs, and donors.  More

Access for All : Building Inclusive Financial Systems - Over the past 10 years, the world of microfinance has changed dramatically. The field has moved rapidly from early innovations in providing loans to helping poor entrepreneurs start businesses to a bold vision of creating entire financial systems that work for the poor. Microfinance has proven to be an effective tool for reducing poverty and helping poor people to improve their lives. And yet a diverse range of potential clients still lack access to an array of financial services - not just credit for enterprise but also a safe place to save, the ability to transfer funds to family members, insurance against sickness or other household disasters, and other ways to mitigate risk in vulnerability. According to the authors, the challenge today is to engage more types of distribution systems, more technologies and more talent to create financial systems that work for the poor and boost their contribution to economic growth. This report explains what this new vision of microfinance means in practical, non-technical terms.  More

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Poverty Reduction and Growth: Virtuous and Vicious Circles - The role of a country's economic growth in raising income levels and alleviating poverty iw well-known and has received renewed attention in the search for pro-poor growth. What is less well explored is the reverse channel: that poverty may, in fact, be part of the reason for a country's poor growth performance. This report explores the existence of these vicious circles in Latin America and the Caribbean about the ways and means to convert them into virtuous circles in which poverty reduction and high growth reinforce each other. Through its analysis of fresh data and the attention it pays to issues such as the persistent inequality in the region, the role played by various micro-determinants of income, and the potential existence of human capital underinvestment traps, this title should be a valuable contribution to the current regional debate on poverty and growth, a debate that is critical to the design of policies conducive to enhancing welfare in all is dimensions among the poor of Latin America and the Caribbean.  More

Repositioning Nutrition as Central to Development - This new WB report warns that malnutrition is costing poor countries up to 3 percent of their yearly GDP, while malnourished children are at risk of losing more than 10 percent of their lifetime earnings potential. The report also says that malnutrition may increase the risks of HIV infection, while reducing the numbers of children and mothers who survive malaria.  According to the report, malnutrition has long been known to undermine economic growth and perpetuate poverty; however, the international development community and most governments in developing countries have failed to tackle malnutrition, even though well-tested approaches for doing so exist.  The report says developing countries that invest in better nutrition for their children get high returns on their spending.  According to the authors, this action plan needs to be agreed to and acted upon by developing countries together with their partners in the international development community.  More

World Bank Calls for a Doubling in Rural Irrigation Investments - According to the WB's new report, Reengaging in Agricultural Water Management: Challenges and Options, released on March 20, by 2030 food demand will double as world population increases by an additional two billion people.  The increase in food demand will come mostly from developing countires.  The report cassls for a doubling in rural irrigation investments - to $40 billion a year - to improve agriculture productivity, accompanied by a more efficient use of water, to avoid a potential global food crisis in the next 20 years.  More

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UPCOMING AND ONGOING GLOBAL EVENTS/DISCUSSIONS

Conference: Business, NGOs and Development: Strategic Engagement Towards the MDGs, April 10-11, Washington, DC - The conference, hosted by the WB Institute, will bring together WB staff with representatives from the private sector, CSOs, academia and partners in the international development community.  Global experts and policy leaders will highlight issues core to the future directions of development, such as how to foster an environment for business growth and wealth creation through partnerships, and scaling up innovative private sector and civil society engagement in providing services to the poor.  Panel discussions will focus on such priority issues as business development in Africa and how to scale up and replicate effective multi-sectoral partnerships.  More

Assessing World Bank Support For Trade 1987-2004 - New report by the Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) of the WB (formerly Operations Evaluations Department - OED) will be launched at the WB's InfoShop on Friday, March 24 at noon.  The WB played a significant role in the reform of developing country trade policies through its research, adjustment lending and its support of trade-related institutions and infrastructure.  The most recent phase has focused on the global trading system and on the use of trade-related research, advocacy, capacity building and mainstreaming trade in WB operations.  On the lending side, attention has shifted to trade facilitation (both physical infrastructure and institutions).  This study outlines the evolution of WB assistance over between 1987 and 2004, evaluates the development effectiveness of WB support to developing countries on trade, and recommends actions to enhance the development effectiveness of that support.  More

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RECENT GLOBAL EVENTS/DISCUSSIONS

4th World Water Forum, March 16-22, Mexico City - World leaders gathered in Mexico City to tackle the urgent problem of the growing number of people without enough water resources, nor access to clean water or to basic sanitation.  The WB delegation to the forum was led by Kathy Sierra, VP for Infrastructure and Development.  At the Forum she stressed that developing countries need new water infrastructure and better water resources management to grow and reduce poverty, and they need it quickly.  But assistance, including the involvement of private interests, must be tailored to each country.  The VP participated in a Civil Society Roundtable March 17 at the Forum in an effort to reach out to CSOs concerned about water issues in developing countries.  More

Energy Week - Focus on Clean Energy for Development - The largest ever Energy Week to take place at the WB attracted nearly 1,000 energy professionals - including government ministers, policy makers, industry leaders, academics, CSOs and WB staff - around the theme of "clean energy for development."  In closing the event, Kathy Sierra, WB VP for Infrastructure and Development, stressed the link between energy security and sustainable development, and that clean energy alternatives are becoming increasingly cost-efficient and available to developing countries.  WB President Paul Wolfowitz, in his keynote address to the conference, said the WB and its member governments needs to focus on the “double dividend” - meeting the energy needs of countries and getting them on the path to sustained growth and poverty reduction, while at the same time preserving or enhancing the environment.  “Indeed,” said Wolfowitz, “these are not conflicting goals. It’s very hard to fight poverty if you then, in the process, destroy the environment. What we're after, in fact, is sustainable growth.  The decisions we make today on energy policies and technology will have major consequences for the sustainability of growth and for the health of our environment.”  More

Second World Bank - InterAction Seminar on Engaging Civil Society, March 2, 2006 - More than 60 CSO representatives and WB staff participate in a the second of a series of  WB-InterAction Seminars on Engaging Civil Society.  This seminar focused on the challenges of financing civil society organizations at the local level, and was sponsored by World Learning, InterAction, and the WB’s Civil Society Unit.  The session featured a panel by three practioners with longstanding experience in funding local CSOs from the Bank, USAID, and World Learning.  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.  All past issues of the Newsletter can be found on the WB site on Civil Society Engagement at: http://www.worldbank.org/civilsociety




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