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World Bank Civil Society Engagement Newsletter - June 2008

MAIN STORIES:

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


1. World Bank Urges Action for 20 Most Vulnerable Countries in Food Crisis - At the Rome summit of the Food and Agriculture Organization, World Bank President Robert B. Zoellick urged leaders to commit to helping the twenty most vulnerable countries before soaring food prices push millions more into poverty or malnutrition. Zoellick said the agencies and governments at the meeting should commit to getting seeds and fertilizer out to smallholder farmers in the coming planting months and agree on an international call to scrap food export bans and restrictions. Zoellick said 28 countries had imposed food export bans which encouraged hoarding and drove up prices, thereby hurting the poorest people. He urged countries to immediately lift restrictions and taxes for humanitarian food purchases and transportation, and for food shipments to less developed and fragile countries. As part of its response, the Bank recently put in place a new $US1.2 billion rapid financing facility to address immediate needs in the global food crisis. More

2.   Climate Investment Funds Receive Support at G8 Finance Ministers’ Meeting – World Bank President Robert Zoellick thanked Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States for leading the way in the development and financing of the Climate Investment Funds which he said are “a concrete step forward toward meeting the challenge of global climate change.” Speaking at the G8 Finance Ministers’ Summit last week in Japan, Zoellick said that the Bank would continue to work with the most  vulnerable countries to integrate climate change considerations into their development strategies. Emphasizing that the Funds were being established through an inclusive and consultative process in support of the Bali Action Plan, he said that while designing the Funds, “we have taken great care to recognize the primacy of the UNFCCC in climate negotiations and to support these negotiations.” The Funds are scheduled to be approved by the Bank's board on the first of July. More

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3. Global Monitoring Report 2008: World Lagging on Human Development Goals - This report, subtitled “MDGs and the Environment: Agenda for Inclusive and Sustainable Development,” provides a comprehensive assessment of progress toward the Millennium Development (MDGs). It addresses the challenge of climate change and environmental sustainability and assesses its implications for development. The report's assessment of MDGs at midpoint presents a mixed picture, one of both significant progress and formidable challenges. The first MDG, reducing extreme poverty by half, is likely to be met at the global level, thanks to a surge in global economic growth over the past decade. But, on current trends, the human development goals are unlikely to be met. Prospects are gravest for the goals of reducing child and maternal mortality, but shortfalls are also likely in the primary school completion, nutrition, and sanitation goals. The potential effects of climate change compound the challenge of achieving the development goals and sustaining progress.  More 

4.  World Bank Bolsters Internal Whistle Blowing Policies - The World Bank issued a strengthened whistle blowing policy designed to encourage staff to report misconduct that threaten the operations or governance of the World Bank Group. The new policy enables staff to report such misconduct by expanding channels for reporting – including a direct route to the President and senior management – and strengthening protections against potential retaliation. Given its importance to the institution, the policy’s effectiveness will be monitored and adjusted as needed. The revised policy was developed over the past two years by Bank management in close consultation with the Bank’s Staff Association and leading expert organizations such as American University’s Washington College of Law and Guy Dehn and the UK’s Public Concern at Work.  More

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5. World Bank Sanctions Firm and Its Owner for Fraudulent Practices under Bank-Financed Projects - The World Bank has debarred GENITE, a firm based in Senegal, and Mr. Aliou Niang, the sole owner of the firm, for fraudulent practices in relation to two Bank-financed projects in Senegal. The sanctions, part of the World Bank’s broader anti-corruption efforts, declare both GENITE and Mr. Niang ineligible to be awarded any future Bank-funded contracts for a period of two years. The scope of the ineligibility also includes any firm or individual which controls or is controlled by GENITE and any firm that Mr. Niang controls. The debarments resulted from an investigation by the World Bank’s Department of Institutional Integrity into two Bank-financed projects in Senegal. One of the projects is now closed, and the second is scheduled to close in September 2008. Since 1999, the World Bank has debarred 342 firms and individuals for engaging in fraud and corruption in Bank-financed projects. More

6. Annual Bank Conference on Development Economics 2008 Held in Cape Town - With food, fuel, and financial turmoil as a dominant backdrop, development economists, policy makers, academics and members of civil society met last week in Cape Town, South Africa at the ABCDE 2008. South African Finance Minister Trevor Manuel opened the event which provided rich discussions across a wide range of international development topics. There were 31 sessions with more than 90 speakers, including Michael Spence, Nobel Laureate in Economics. The event also welcomed eight young people who participated in an international essay competition on the topic "What can you do to build the city of your dreams?" The winner was Saptarshi Pal of Jaipur, India who wrote about a grassroots urban development network developed by a student association, in partnership with corporations, NGOs, citizen groups, and local government to help poor communities connect with sources of knowledge and services. More

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7.  Online Consultations End June 30: Strategic Priorities for Bank-Civil Society Engagement - The World Bank Group is in the process of developing a strategic priorities framework for its relations with civil society across the institution. The strategic framework process will involve a two-phased approach and 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. We have received numerous comments and suggestions on how the WB can improve and scale up its relations with civil society. If you have not already done so, please review the guiding questions on Bank – civil society engagement and share your views. Online consultations end on June 30. More

8.  Deadline Extended - Global Consultations on Climate Change Framework - The Bank is undertaking a global consultation on its Strategic Framework on Climate Change (SFCCD).   The basis for the consultation process is the draft Concept and Issues Paper, which is available in seven languages.   The current phase of the global consultation process will run through July 7, 2008 and include numerous face-to-face and video conference meetings, as well as an online consultation process.    At its conclusion, the input received will be summarized and presented alongside the draft Paper to the WB Board in September and subsequent discussion at the 2008 Annual Meetings.   A comprehensive website has been launched with numerous materials in multiple languages including: a consultation plan and schedule, briefing materials, powerpoint presentation on the SFCCD, and frequently asked questions on the process.  Provide Online Comments  More.

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9. Communications Associate Sought for Civil Society Team – The World Bank Civil Society Team has an opening for a Communications Associate position at Washington, DC, headquarters office. The Communications Associate will be responsible for producing the Team’s knowledge management products and monitoring news and trends on global civil society.   The Associate will also proactively participate in the development and implementation of the Bank’s strategy for engagement with CSOs, including helping to launch and maintain a Bank-wide advisory service.   Applicants from within and outside the Bank are welcome to apply.   More

10.  2008 Annual Meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund – The 2008 Annual Meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund will be held over the weekend of October 11-13 at the WB and IMF Headquarters in Washington, D.C. The Civil Society Policy Forum, a program of some 30 policy dialogue sessions for Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) will be held from Thursday, October 9 through Monday, October 13.   All CSO representatives must obtain formal accreditation in order to participate in the Annual Meetings and enter Bank/Fund buildings. The online accreditation system will open in mid-August.   Additional information on the accreditation process will be posted on the Civil Society website soon.

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 NEWS FROM THE WORLD BANK'S REGIONAL DEPARTMENTS

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Africa

Malawi Eyes Weather Derivatives to Help Manage Drought Risk – In its goals of reducing vulnerability to weather shocks and strengthening food security, Malawi is likely to be the first country to use a new weather derivative offered by the World Bank. A weather derivative is a financial contract based on an underlying weather index.   The first weather derivatives transaction for Malawi will test the market with a small contract that is expected to pay out a maximum of approximately US$3 million if severe drought occurs. Donors are supporting this initiative and the premium is being paid by the UK Department for International Development. By using weather derivatives, Malawi will get funds within days if a payout is triggered by inadequate rainfall, thus reducing processing time and costs considerably.  More

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East Asia and the Pacific

Investing in Indonesia’s Health: Challenges and Opportunities for Future Public Spending - This Health Public Expenditure Review provide analysis that supports Indonesia in the development and implementation of its health sector strategy. While Indonesia still has a considerable, albeit declining challenge of fighting communicable diseases, the number of non-communicable diseases is increasing rapidly. This double burden of high communicable and increasing non-communicable diseases is placing additional pressures on the health system. This study highlights a number of different facets of public expenditure on health in Indonesia and prompts questions about the overall adequacy of funding, the role of public versus private expenditures in the health sector and appropriate mechanisms for mobilizing resources. It provides nine ideas for making the health system more efficient. More

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Europe and Central Asia

World Bank Georgia Country Office Announces 2008 Civil Society Fund Winners – Out of 77 grant applications submitted, 10 projects were selected to be funded by the World Bank Georgia Country Office Civil Society Fund. This year the overarching theme was supporting youth development and a total of USD 35,000 was available for the year’s program, which was complemented by grant funds from Open Society Georgia Foundation (OSGF) and Eurasia Foundation. Activities to be supported include workshops and seminars to enhance civic engagement skills and/or knowledge, appropriate communication campaigns to influence policymaking or public service delivery and innovative networking efforts to build the capacity of CSOs.  The Georgia Office has funded over 70 projects valued nearly USD $400,000 since the Fund was established in 1998.   More

Blood Services in Central Asian Health Systems: A Clear and Present Danger of Spreading HIV/AIDS and Other Infectious Diseases – The report finds that urgent action is needed to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases in Central Asia through tainted blood transfusions. According to the report, of the 33-36 million people estimated to be HIV positive worldwide, 5 – 10 % were infected by a contaminated blood transfusion. The report found that the current screening of donated blood in Central Asian health systems may not be fully effective, leading to a high risk of contaminated blood transfusions.  Even more alarming is the finding that some health facilities in Central Asia do not test blood donations at all. Countries covered by the study were Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. More

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Middle East and North Africa

Challenges and Opportunities of Labor Migration in Middle-East and North Africa Region - Experts and key stakeholders in migration-sending and receiving countries participated recently in a conference on the challenges and opportunities posed by migration in the MENA context. The event took place in Rabat, Morocco and was organized by the European Commission and the World Bank. Discussions focused on policies that would maximize benefits and the positive impact of migration, and analyzed the consequences that the MENA region will face in long-term. Sessions were held on labor and social policies, skilled migration, diasporas, and the institutional framework for migration. Migration is a huge issue in the MENA regions; with formal remittances accounting for between 5 to 20 percent of GNP in some of the largest migration affected countries. More

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 NEW PUBLICATIONS FROM THE WORLD BANK

Addressing the Food Crisis: The Need for Rapid and Coordinated Action - The paper gathers the Bank's latest thinking, analysis, and research on the food crisis. The World Bank presented the paper at the G8 Finance Ministers meeting held last week in Japan. The paper stresses that the next few months are critical for addressing the food crisis as social and political risks are building.  Countries and international organizations now need to act in concert immediately to ease key commodity markets, especially rice. The report also highlights the nexus between high energy and high food prices and the double burden of rising energy prices. The report contains a table of country vulnerability indicators and also an important matrix of country policy options for addressing the food crisis. More

Global Development Finance 2008  The report finds that while financial turmoil sent shock waves through high-income countries in 2007, many developing countries emerged relatively unscathed. China posted double-digit economic growth for a fifth year in a row last year, and emerging economies attracted a record US$1 trillion in net private capital flows. The report predicts that in 2008, growth in China, the rest of East Asia and the Pacific, and other developing regions together will fall from 7.8 percent to a still-strong 6.5 percent, while their high-income trading partners like the United States was slow to between 1 and 2 percent. The report argues that developing countries as a whole have shown resilience partly because of improved policies, higher investments, and technological progress. However, high energy and food prices are hurting poor people and high oil prices are threatening growth in a few countries such as Romania and the Baltic states.  The report calls for immediate action to address soaring food and energy prices and volatility in the financial markets. 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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