The World Bank Civil Society Team surveyed civil society representatives who attended the 2009 Spring Meetings to ascertain their views on the Civil Society Policy Forum (CS Forum) and other events held on April 23 – 26, 2009. Feedback was received via a 7-question questionnaire that was distributed (via participants folders) during the meetings and after the meetings (via the web). Responses were received from 36 individuals out of about 300 participants, which represented a 12% response rate – similar to previous years.
Summary of Responses:
As the graph below shows, the majority of those surveyed stated the main reason for having attended the Spring Meetings (question #1) was to “network and share information with other CSOs” (72%), followed by “dialogue with Bank/Fund staff” (64%). It is interesting to note that the reply “learn about Bank/Fund policies” came in third (50%) and somewhat lower than the results for this same question in the 2008 Annual Meetings survey which was (76%). One reason for this discrepancy may be that the Annual Meetings generally attract a larger number of CSO representatives from developing countries which are less familiar with Bank/Fund policies.
The survey also recorded the views of participants regarding logistics, the value of key events, and the overall quality and usefulness of the Civil Society Policy Forum. Participants were asked to rate these experiences on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest.
On logistics (question # 2), the “Accreditation Process” and “Assistance from the Civil Society Team” received the highest marks with 92% each for being good and very good. “Convenience of civil society rooms” came third with 78%, and “Access to Bank/Fund staff” ranked 4th with 66%.
In terms of the value of events (question #3), respondents gave the highest marks to the “policy dialogue sessions” with 83% rating them as good and very good. The “Reception” with the Bank and Fund heads was rated at 73% and the “Orientation Session” received 60%. The fact that the dialogue sessions rated the highest, may also be because most of them are organized and moderated by the CSOs themselves.
In terms of the overall views of the Policy Forum (question #4), 80% of respondents rated them high (good and very good) for “overall quality”, 78% for “relevance”, and 72% for “usefulness” to their work.
Asked to point out what worked best (questions #5) at the Policy Forum, participants had varying opinions. A considerable number of participants pointed to the diversity of topics and to the representation of multiple perspectives among speakers and participants. They also appreciated the honest and cordial tone of Bank and IMF presenters, as well as the quality of presentations. The opportunity for interaction with other CSO participants, helpfulness of the organizing staff, cooperation on jointly-organized sessions, and overall coordination also received positive mentions.
Respondents also identified sessions that they found particularly engaging. These were:
- The G20 Summit Outcomes and Implications for Developing Countries
- Consultation on Information Disclosure Review
- Accountability and Participation in World Bank and IDB Loans: From Rhetoric to Action?
- The Inspection Panel and Human Rights at the World Bank
- Evaluation Lessons in Unusual Times
Recommendations to improve the Forum (questions #6) covered suggestions on planning, session content, translation, and format of the sessions. A consistent theme was the need for either sessions to be longer or presentations to be shorter to allow more time for Q&A. Some respondents asked for more regional focused events, and more regional representation at the Forum itself. Others felt that there were too many sessions with low attendance, and recommended slimming down the Forum to fewer, higher profile sessions. There was also a desire for the planning process for the Forum to be participatory. Other specific recommendations included:
· Develop and deliver a communiqué at a press conference at the end of the Forum.
· More CSO representatives as speakers or moderators for key meetings.
· More Bank and Fund senior managers and Board representatives in the sessions.
· Translation in more languages, including Russian. (Note: For the first time, simultaneous translation in four languages – English, French, Spanish and Arabic – was provided for 3 key sessions.)
· Less time devoted to presentations, and more to conversations with Bank/Fund staff.
· Request recommendations from civil society what they would like to see included in the presentations in order to guide Bank/Fund presenters on points to cover.
· Be careful to not allow a few NGO´s to take over sessions with their “not so relevant work” that will not lead to constructive discussion.
· Create more opportunities for interaction amongst the participants before and after the Forum, perhaps through an online social network.
· Include more innovation and social entrepreneurship speakers.For More on Civil Society Participation in the 2009 World Bank/IMF Spring Meetings; Please visit here...