The Civil Society Policy Forum (CS Forum) was held on April 22 – 25 just before and during the 2010 Spring Meetings in Washington, DC. (see photo gallery) [add url] Some 350 civil society representatives from over 40 countries attended despite several dozen being unable to travel to Washington due to the volcanic cloud over Europe. There were representatives from over 150 NGOs, trade unions, faith-based organizations, youth groups, universities, and foundations. (see participants list)
The CS Forum was comprised of 40 policy dialogue sessions on a wide range of topics. There were sessions on Haiti reconstruction, agriculture and food security, Bank and Fund governance reform, debt sustainability, extractive industries, financial transfer tax, Africa regional development, and climate change, among others. Many of these sessions were organized by CSOs independently or in conjunction with the Bank and the Fund. The Bank Group held consultation sessions on its education, trade, and performance standard strategies, as well as provided an update on the implementation of its access to information policy. Each of the Bank Group’s compliance mechanisms –Compliance Advisor and Ombudsman (CAO), Independent Evaluation Group (IEG), Inspection Panel, and Institution Integrity (INT) – held dialogue sessions in order to better inform CSOs on their work. Visit the forum schedule page to view summaries, speaker presentations, and participants lists of many of the sessions.
The topic which sparked the most interest at the CS Forum was energy policy, as the Bank is in the midst of a year-long process to review its global energy strategy. Three of the sessions were hosted by CSOs – Bank Information Center, Friedrich-Ebert Foundation, and World Resources Institute – and were intended to present civil society views and perspectives on why the Bank should phase out of funding traditional fossil-fuel sources of energy. The Bank hosted a session which included the head of World Watch Institute on the growing synergy between its energy and environment policies as the Bank increases its support for renewable and low-carbon energy investments. These policy dialogue sessions were characterized by a frank and substantive exchange of views on the Bank’s energy policies and programs.
The highlight of the Forum was a CSO Roundtable on post-crisis economic recovery hosted by Bank President, Robert Zoellick, which was followed by a reception hosted by the Marwan Muasher (Senior Vice President for External Affairs, WB) and Caroline Atkinson (Director for External Affairs, IMF). Mr. Zoellick talked about the efforts undertaken by the Bank to help developing countries address the economic crisis through the support of economic stimulus packages, doubling of financing for development projects, and increase in the funding of social protection programs. He also explained the rationale for the capital increase request, increase in Bank voting shares for developing countries, and proposed internal reforms. In response to a question on the Eskom coal power plant, Mr. Zoellick explained that the project not only represented the most advanced super critical coal technology available, but will provide South Africa with much needed electricity. He added, however, that it did involve difficult tradeoffs between the Bank’s efforts to support pro-poor energy which is also environmentally sustainable. (See session recording)
These Spring Meetings represented, once again, record civil society participation both in terms of the number of CSO representatives in attendance and number of sessions at the CS Forum. This, in turn, builds on a trend over the past seven years of the growing interest by CSOs to proactively engage the Bank and Fund.
CS Forum Schedule
CS Roundtable Recording
CSOs Evaluate 2010 Spring Meetings Policy Forum