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2007 Annual Meetings

Promoting and Scaling Up Demand Side Engagement to Improve Governance

Session organized by InterAction, Transparency International, and World Bank
October 18, 2007

This discussion was convened by InterAction, Transparency International, and the World Bank Group (WBG); it involved over 60 civil society and WBG participants. The session served as an opportunity for civil society representatives and WBG staff to exchange views on their respective experiences, opportunities, and challenges in promoting demand-side governance and its impact on development outcomes. The WBG’s Governance and Anti-Corruption Implementation plan was presented as an important means to scale up demand-side approaches and social accountability practices to improve governance. The WBG is already involved in several efforts to strengthen the demand for good governance in its operations and support to civil society.  For example, the WBG publicly discloses project contracts, and provides funding for CSOs through its Small Grants Program, among other things.

Panelists and participants shared the following key comments/suggestions: 

  • An integrated, inclusive multi-stakeholder (including donors, national/local government, indigenous population, private sector, etc.) engagement approach is vital in promoting a long-term platform for good governance.
  • Donors should provide long-term financing support for CSOs working on governance issues, since they usually face severe resource constraints. Donors often supply financing for short-term activities that are unrealistically expected to offer long-term results. Donors should also consider making available innovative grants for governance work.
  • Donors should scale-up training and technical assistance on governance issues for both CSOs and government officials to foster new thinking on this complex topic.  In a recent World Learning/WBG survey, 1400+ civil society participants ranked governance as the highest rated development topic on which they sought training.
  • Additional resources are also needed to build capacity in local universities and research centers focusing on governance issues.
  • Donors should examine ways to nurture their relationships with CSO networks, as they can provide entry points in a country.  CSO networks can also possibly provide social protection for CSO advocates and whistleblowers, an issue which donors are encouraged to examine themselves. 
  • Donors should consider approaches to enhance the tripartite relationship between donors/governments/CSOs working on governance issues. WBG, itself, must develop clear, soft incentives for staff to work with CSOs. 
  • There is a need for a holistic long-term approach to conquer governance challenges—WBG does not focus on project-based approach to governance, contrary to the assumption of some CSOs.
  • CSOs should use operational work to highlight their value-added in carrying out the governance agenda. Policy advocacy should be used as a complementary means to draw attention on governance issues.

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