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World Bank Civil Society Engagement Newsletter - April 2008

MAIN STORIES:

  1. Application and Nomination Deadline Extended: Inspection Panel Member

*      NEWS FROM THE WORLD BANK'S REGIONAL DEPARTMENTS
*      NEW PUBLICATIONS FROM THE WORLD BANK


1.  Global Consultations: Towards a Strategic Framework on Climate Change and Development for the World Bank Group - The basis for the consultation process is the draft Concept and Issues Paper: Towards a Strategic Framework on Climate Change and Development for The World Bank Group (SFCCD), which is now available in six languages (Russian translation coming soon).  The current phase of the global consultation process, which will run through June 30, 2008, invites Bank stakeholders to share their views on the paper.  At its conclusion, comments gathered will allow the Bank Group to elaborate the full SFCCD for the entire institution, for presentation to the WB Board in September and subsequent discussion at the 2008 Annual Meetings. Comments on a number of specific guiding questions are welcome, while a detailed consultation schedule is being developed and will be shared with CSOs.   More

2.   Share Your Views: Strategic Priorities for Bank-Civil Society Engagement - The WB is in the process of developing a strategic priorities framework for its relations with civil society across the institution. The strategic framework process is expected to span from March through July 2008 and involve a two-phased approach. CSOs will be consulted during both phases.  During the first phase, which is currently underway, CSOs are consulted broadly about Bank – civil society engagement trends, and during the second phase they will be asked specific input on the draft Paper.  Your comments and suggestions on how the WB can improve and scale up its relations with civil society are welcome.  Please review the guiding questions on Bank – civil society engagement and share your views.   More

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3.  2008 Spring Meetings Civil Society Policy Forum Concludes - Some 200 CSO representatives from around the globe came to Washington in mid-April to participate in the Civil Society Policy Forum at this year's Spring Meetings of the WB Group and the IMF.  The Forum featured 21 policy dialogue sessions covering a wide range of topics including Bank’s evolving Strategic Framework on Climate Change, its work at the country level on governance and anti-corruption programs, transparency in the extractive industries sector, use of country systems to address environmental and social safeguards, IFC's role in the IDA programs, and many others.  World Bank Group President, Robert Zoellick, and International Monetary Fund Managing Director, Dominique Strauss-Kahn -- introduced by Andrew Kumbatira (Executive Director of the Malawi Economic Justice Network) -- hosted CSOs at an informal reception. IFC Executive Vice President, Lars Thunell, held a briefing session to update CSOs on the latest developments at IFC and answer questions.  Of note this year were the CSO blogs reporting on various sessions.   Summary notes of some of the sessions, participants lists, photos, as well as background documents and presentations will be uploaded to the Forum's website in the coming weeks.   More

4.  World Learning Study on CSO Participation in World Bank Training - World Learning released in April 2008 a study titled "Strategies for Engaging Civil Society in World Bank Training Programs" which describes WB's internal and external training programs and whether there would be interest by CSOs to participate in and collaborate with WB training efforts. According to the study, CSO interest in knowledge-sharing and learning in collaboration with the WB is strong. The study also identified constraints for increased civil society participation in Bank training programs, namely high costs, location of courses, and lack of information of offerings.  At the conclusion of the report, World Learning makes a number of specific recommendations to promote greater participation of civil society in Bank training programs.  These include adapting current course methodology and content to fit CSO interest, disseminate information about WB training opportunities more widely, and use WB country staff more actively in this area.   More

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5.  World Bank Group and Partners Launch EITI++ - WB Group President announced a new initiative on April 12 to help developing countries manage and transform their natural resource wealth into long-term economic growth that spreads the benefits more fairly among their people. The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative Plus Plus (EITI++) seeks to develop national capability to handle the boom in commodity prices, and channel the growing revenue streams into fighting poverty, hunger, malnutrition, illiteracy, and disease.  EITI++ complements EITI’s focus on transparency in reporting revenues.  It will provide governments with a slate of options including technical assistance and capacity building for improving the management of resource-related wealth for the benefit of the poor. EITI++ aims to provide technical assistance in order to improve the quality of contracts for countries, enhance monitoring operations, and increase the collection of taxes and royalties.  It is also geared to improving economic decisions on resource extraction, managing price volatility, and investing revenues effectively for national development.    More

6.   World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick Welcomes Japanese Prime Minister Fukuda's Call to Put Food Crisis on G8 Agenda - In a statement released on April 21, WB President welcomes Japanese Prime Minister's call to put food crisis on G8 Agenda. The WB states that it is pleased to support Japan as chair of the G8 and will coordinate closely with the UN and other international institutions to prepare joint action.  Zoellick calls on donors to support the World Food Program's call for emergency funds to fill the current financing gap. He mentions that at the recent WB-IMF Spring Meetings ministers of member countries endorsed a 'New Deal for Global Food Policy' which will require coordinated action. As an immediate response, the WB is working with partners in the UN to identify countries most in need to provide concessional financing and other support where appropriate. WB is also exploring the creation of a rapid financing facility for fragile and poor countries with little margin for survival and little access to finance. The WB will also double its lending for agriculture in Africa over the next year.    More

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7.  Co-Directors Selected For 2010 World Development Report On Climate Change - Rosina M. Bierbaum, currently professor and Dean of the School of Natural Resources and Environment (SNRE) at the University of Michigan and Marianne Fay, Lead Economist at the WB, have been chosen to co-lead the 2010 World Development Report (WDR) on climate change and developing countries.  Dr. Bierbaum has led four U.S. delegations to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and has a long record working on climate change and environment issues. Ms Fay, who served most recently as Lead Economist in WB’s Europe and Central Asia Region, has worked on several previous WDRs.  The 2010 WDR will be developed through consultations with the Bank’s regions and networks, governments, leading academics, private sector, civil society, and international development agencies. The report will be published in the fall of 2009.     More

8. Application and Nomination Deadline Extended: Inspection Panel Member - The WB Inspection Panel is inviting applications and nominations for the position of Inspection Panel Member. The closing date for applications has been extended through April 30, 2008. The Inspection Panel is an independent forum established by the Executive Directors of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the International Development Association (IDA). The role of the Panel is to carry out independent investigations into whether the Bank has complied with its policies and procedures. Its function is triggered by a Request for Inspection, normally from people affected by a World Bank financed project.  More

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NEWS FROM THE WORLD BANK'S REGIONAL DEPARTMENTS

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Africa

World Bank Commits to Deepen Reforms to Better Serve Middle-Income Countries in Africa - The WB Group reiterated its commitment to reduce the non-financial costs of doing business with it and to expand the menu of products and services to better serve middle-income countries (MICs) in Africa. A high-level consultation meeting was held in Washington, DC, on the sidelines of the Spring Meetings of the IMF and the WB. The Africa MIC Action Plan proposes a three-year pilot of a different way of doing business in MICs that will focus on four key areas: (i) improving client responsiveness; (ii) expanding the range and utilization of financial products; (iii) enhancing the Bank’s knowledge services; and (iv) strengthening synergies between different parts of the Bank Group. Going forward, WB Group together with its partners in MICs and regional development institutions will continue to foster cooperation on agreed priorities and work on initiatives to advance the dialogue, including through consultations.      More

Meeting Africa’s Urgent Development Needs - The WB Group President announced in a speech delivered on April 2, a package of proposals designed to help African countries address rising food and commodity prices, create new opportunities for managing wealth earned from high energy and mineral prices in a more inclusive way, and generate long-term liquidity by tapping into sovereign wealth funds. Specifically, he called for: (1) A 'New Deal for Global Food Policy' to help African countries meet the challenges posed by surging food prices, and a pledge to nearly double agricultural lending for increasing farm productivity and boosting food availability across sub-Saharan Africa; (2) A renewed and invigorated Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative; and (3) Creating a “One Percent Solution” for sovereign wealth funds to invest one percent of their holdings in equity in sub-Saharan Africa as a way of tapping long-term global liquidity to boost investment opportunities and development.      More

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East Asia and the Pacific

East Asian Economies Still Buoyant Amid Faltering Global Economy, Says World Bank’s Review - Growth in developing East Asia will decline by around one to two percentage points to around 8.5% in 2008 as a result of the unfolding financial turmoil in the US and the resulting global slowdown, says the WB’s latest six-monthly review of the East Asia and Pacific region’s economies. But despite the likely drop from recent double-digit levels, overall growth remains healthy across the region and most countries are well positioned to navigate the global slowdown because of the investments they’ve made in the last 10 years in structural reforms and putting sound macroeconomic policies in place, the report says. But the report warns that the real challenge for governments of the region is the inflationary effect of mounting food and fuel prices especially because of the harsh burden this imposes on the poor.      More

GEF/SCCF provide US$5M to China for adaptation to climate change - On April 17 the WB’s Board of Executive Directors approved a grant of $5 million from the Special Climate Change Fund of the Global Environment Facility (GEF/SCCF) to China to help adapt the country’s water and agricultural sectors to climate change.  The Mainstreaming Climate Change Adaptation in Irrigated Agriculture Project will focus on China’s primary agricultural production region.  The project's goal is to reduce the vulnerability of farmers and rural communities to climate change through piloting and mainstreaming adaptation measures in agricultural production and water resources management. More

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Latin America and the Caribbean

WB Urges Governments, Private Sector to Facilitate Remittances - A new WB report entitled “Remittances and Development: Lessons from Latin America” shows that the money migrant workers send back to their home countries is linked to lower poverty levels and improvements in education and health indicators. Remittances also contribute to higher growth and investment and are associated with lower economic volatility. The size of remittances flows, however, could be compromised by the U.S. economic slowdown, which increases the urgency of actions to facilitate remittances flows and to maximize their development impact. The WB urged governments and remittance service providers to put in place a new set of measures to facilitate the flow of remittances to countries in Latin America that are threatened by the U.S. economic slowdown.     More

New Partnership Strategies for World Bank Work in Mexico and Colombia - The WB Board of Directors endorsed on April 8 the new Country Partnership Strategy (CPS) for Mexico.  It envisions provision of flexible, on-demand advisory services and technical assistance. The new strategy emphasizes the key role of the WB as a provider of long-term finance at very competitive interest rates. The CPS envisions base lending of US$800 million per year and plans for a first IBRD Climate Change policy lending operation for US $ 501.25 Million. Also on April 8 the WB Board endorsed a CPS for Colombia that proposes to maintain a lending program of up to US$ 4 billion (about US$ 1 billion per year) over the next four years, with an increasingly active International Finance Corporation program in the range of US$ 300/400 million per year, complemented by a variety of analytical,  advisory services and specialized grants.   More on    Mexico and  Colombia

World Bank Plans Emergency US$ 10 million Grant To Ease Food Price Impacts in Haiti - The WB announced on April 12 a US$10 million grant for the Republic of Haiti to help the Government respond to the increasing unaffordability of food for poor families. In Haiti, the prices of rice, corn, beans, cooking oil and other foodstuffs have increased significantly in the last few months. The grant is expected to cover the provision of food for poor children and other vulnerable groups, partly through an expansion of the Bank’s existing school feeding program; and job creation through labor intensive public works. The WB is also exploring hedging instruments for food imports.    More

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Middle East and North Africa

World Bank Continues Support for the Palestinian People - The WB on April 11 signed a Grant Agreement with the Palestinian Authority for the Palestinian Reform and Development Plan multi-donor budget support Trust Fund (PRDF-TF).  The Trust Fund is part of the overall donor effort to alleviate the Palestinian fiscal crisis and to support implementation of the Palestinian Reform and Development Plan which was prepared in December 2007. The Bank’s ongoing portfolio in West Bank and Gaza consists of 12 projects aiming at improving living conditions for the Palestinian people including water and sanitation, education, solid waste, municipal finance, provision of basic social services in addition to capacity building of the NGO sector.      More

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South Asia

Maldives: World Bank Group Supports Mobile Phone Banking - The WB on April 17 approved a US$7.7 million credit to Government of Maldives for the Mobile Phone Banking Project that will create a single currency payment system which offers a set of mobile telephone-based accounts. The system will enable subscribers to transfer funds to and from bank accounts and to and from telephone-based accounts. In addition, the project aims to build an enabling environment and the capacity to support successful mobile phone banking systems. The target group that will most directly benefit from this project is people who live and work in the widely dispersed islands. The Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) will provide partial funding to the project.     More

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NEW PUBLICATIONS FROM THE WORLD BANK

Progress Toward Nutrition, Health, Education, and other Development Goals off Track - The new WB Global Monitoring Report: MDGs and the Environment—Agenda for Inclusive and Sustainable Development, released on April 8, warns that most countries will fall short on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).  Though much of the world is set to cut extreme poverty in half by then, prospects are gravest for the goals of reducing child and maternal mortality, with serious shortfalls also likely in primary school completion, nutrition, and sanitation goals. The report stresses the link between environment and development and calls for urgent action on climate change, and warns that developing countries stand to suffer the most from climate change and the degradation of natural resources. To build on hard-won gains, developing countries need support to address the links between growth, development and environmental sustainability, says the report.    More

Global Output Totals $59 Trillion -- Developing Countries Have Increasing Share, Says World Bank - Developing economies now produce 41 percent of the world's output, up from 36 percent in 2000, according to the World Development Indicators 2008, released on April 11. The combined output of the world's economies reached $59 trillion in 2006. Using new measurements that take into account the differences in price levels between countries, China now ranks as the second largest economy in the world, and 5 of the 12 largest economies are developing economies. Strong growth over the period has increased the shares of all developing regions except Latin America and the Caribbean, while the share of high-income economies fell by 5 percent.    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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