Civil Society presence at the IMF and World Bank Spring Meetings on April 25 – 26 in Washington, DC was the largest ever. Some 300 CSO representatives (a 36% increase over 2008) participated representing NGOs, persons with disability organizations, trade unions, faith-based organizations, and foundations. (see participants list). CSO participants included CEOs, policy activist, and researchers from over 30 countries, although the majority were from the United States. One of the reasons for this increased participation seems to have been the concern generated by the financial crisis and the increased financial rescue role being projected for the IMF.
As in past Spring Meetings, the Civil Society Teams of the Bank and Fund organized the Civil Society Policy Forum which was held on from April 23 – 26. The Forum was composed of 25 policy sessions on a wide range of topics including debt sustainability, food crisis, Africa development, and climate change. These sessions were organized by different Bank, Fund, and IFC units, or jointly with CSOs such the Bank Information Center (BIC), Action Aid, EURODAD, Center for Environmental Law (CIEL), CARE, and Center of Concern.
Forum highlights included sessions on: broad community support in IFC-financed projects; protecting the poor from the food crisis; and a consultation meeting on the Bank’s revised information disclosure policies. There were also sessions organized by the Bank’s compliance mechanism (Inspection Panel and Compliance Advisor and Ombudsman) and a first ever session by the Bank’s Independent Evaluation Group. For the first time, simultaneous interpretation was offered in four languages (English, French, Arabic, and Spanish) for three of the Forum sessions, and we expect this service to be expanded for future Annual and Spring Meetings. Reflecting the times, the session which attracted the largest audience focused on the financial crisis and the G20 Summit. It feature a panel composed of Antoinette Sayeh (Director, African Department, IMF), Alan Gelb (Director Economic Policy, WB), and Ingrid Srinath (Secretary General of CIVICUS), among others. There was also a reception hosted by Bank President Zoellick and IMF Managing Director Strauss-Khan, in which they made informal remarks and responded to questions on the multilateral responses to the financial crisis. For summary notes, participants lists, presentations, and photos of many of the session please visit the Forum schedule page.
CSOs released a series of position papers and press releases at the conclusion of the Spring Meetings on the positions taken by the Bank and Fund’s Development Committee, which set institutional policies for the two institutions. For a sampling of these statements please visit the following websites: Bretton Woods Project, Bank Information Center, and EURODAD.
Civil Society Policy Forum (Session summaries, presentations, participants lists)
The IMF Spring Meetings Coverage
Spring Meetings 2009 Survey Results
Spring Meetings 2009 General Information