|"During these meetings we discussed some very important issues on which we have shared concerns with civil society, and on which civil society advocacy has been instrumental in getting the attention of policymakers", Bank President Paul Wolfowitz told a group of CSO representatives at a reception hosted by the Bank Sunday, to mark the end of the Spring Meetings.|| |
| ||Over 150 Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) from around the world attended the Spring Meetings, including a series of policy dialogue sessions, press conferences, and a briefing with senior Bank managers. This was almost a threefold increase over the usual number of CSO participants in previous Spring Meetings and represented a growing interest in the policy dialogue sessions.|
Perhaps nothing exemplifies more the reference made by Mr. Wolfowitz about the important advocacy role played by CSOs than the impact they have had in two of the most prominent measures of the Spring Meetings: debt relief and education. Most analysts agree that civil society has played a key role in pushing for global debt relief which resulted first in the HIPC initiative and now in the Multinational Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI). Last year, the Global Call Against Poverty (GCAP) mobilized an estimated 150 million citizens around the world – wearing white bands, attending rock concerts, emailing government officials – to call for debt relief, increased aid, and a trade deal.
On education, CSOs such as Oxfam and Action Aid have been working closely with the Bank over the past few years to organize press events and push donors to increase funding for the Education for All Fast Track Initiative. This concerted advocacy effort was rewarded in recent days with the announcement by the UK government to provide over $15 billion over 10 years toward education in developing countries.
|During Spring Meeting, the WBG and IMF Civil Society Teams organized the “Program of Policy Dialogue with Civil Society” which comprised 17 policy dialogue sessions on topics related to the Development Committee agenda as well as other important issues such as: development policy lending, debt sustainability, extractive industries, governance, trade, infrastructure, and clean energy.|
These sessions involved over 50 speakers including Bank/Fund staff, CSO representatives, donor agency officials, and academics. Senior Bank and Fund managers from the trade, debt, governance, and infrastructure departments participated on the panels. A third of the sessions were organized by leading international policy advocacy CSOs such Eurodad, CIDSE, Trocaire, Christian Aid, and Bank Information Center.
While the policy sessions often involved contrasting perspectives and analysis on such issues as the pace of trade liberalization and degree of country ownership within the Poverty Reduction Strategies, they were characterized by a thoughtful and constructive tone. Reflecting the prominence of the debt issue, there were separate panels on HIPC, debt sustainability framework, and MDRI.
| ||The panel on governance focused on a paper commissioned by Trocaire which, while recognizing the importance of the transparency, accountability, and anti-corruption agendas, criticized the continued use of loan conditionalities by the Bank to promote these policies. There were also several panels organized in collaboration with the UN’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in the areas of trade and development strategies for Middle Income Countries.|
|Finally, there was a briefing for accredited CSO representatives by a panel composed of several VPs – Ian Goldin, Jim Adams, Kathy Sierra, and Steen Jorgensen – on the decisions made by the Development Committee. This was followed by the reception with Mr. Wolfowitz who spoke to the group about the Bank's new strategy for promoting good governance and tackling corruption. || |
Once again, he highlighted the importance of cooperation with civil society as a key part of the strategy. He emphasized that the Bank will "need to take into account other non-economic issues that were previously seen as too political, including freedom of the press and more broadly, human rights."
Civil Society Policy Dialogue Program during 2006 Spring Meetings
General Information for CSOs during 2006 Spring Meetings
Main 2006 Spring Meetings website
Spring and Annual Meetings Dialogues website