One of the major highlights of CSOs participation at the World Bank/IMF 2011 Annual Meetings was a first ever open roundtable between CSOs and the Executive Directors of the two institutions. The purpose of this event was to promote an exchange of views and address the policy issues of the 2011 Annual Meetings such as jobs, gender, economic recovery, and climate change. The roundtable’s co-chairs were Ian Solomon (WB Executive Director, U.S.) and Moeketsi Majoro (IMF Executive Director, Lesotho). A total of 20 EDs or alternates from both institutions, and some 80 CSO representatives attended the event.
Initial comments were made by Yemisi Ransome-Kuti, representing Nigeria's NGO Forum, and Muhammad Abushagra, representing Egypt's Youth Entrepreneurship and Sustainability (YES). Among other things, Ms. Ransome-Kuti described her work as a consultant ensuring public participation in a World Bank infrastructure project, and asked what the Bank’s response has been to the Horn of Africa. Mr. Abushagra spoke about the significance of the Arab Spring, stating that citizens have become players in their own destiny and criticized both institutions for having supported the previous Egyptian government.
An ED expressed that he was pleased to see openness in the two institutions’ work, as this has certainly manifested in key policies and social sectors (health and education). He also added that the global economy is much more interconnected than 5 – 10 years ago, to the point that even one country’s policies could create ripple effects in other countries. Several CSOs remarked that the World Bank and IMF should involve civil society more in their programs, as well as provide more budget resources for consultations at the country level. Another attendee expressed her concern about capacity training, especially in the area of procurement processes and the importance of maximizing more “South-South” knowledge sharing.
There was also discussion about the World Bank and IMF’s response to the Arab Spring, the Horn of Africa crisis, the ongoing global economic recession, climate change, and gender. A CSO representative commented that it’s important that the Bank stay focused on these important issues, and continue to keep the public updated. Another CSO representative suggested that there may be opportunities for CSOs to help design economic frameworks, as well as opportunities for CSOs to be more constructively engaged with local governments.
In response to these collective remarks and suggestions, an Executive Director stated that the World Bank is trying to channel more resources to CSOs – to tap into their capabilities, knowledge, and presence in the field. He agreed that engagement with CSOs was very important. He added that the World Bank was doing its part to be more transparent, especially online, by publishing more information and data, Bank projects, as well as what’s happening inside the World Bank. He highlighted how the World Bank responded immediately to the crisis in the Horn of Africa, with a short-, medium-, and long-term plan.
Another Executive Director explained that the World Bank is changing, and reminded everyone that the role of the Executive Board is to broker consensus. This Executive Director also added that the most important element is that the World Bank continues to deepen its dialogue with CSOs and other stakeholders, and concluded these remarks by reminding CSOs to continue their proactive dialogue with their governments.
Another Executive Director underscored the importance of CSO inclusion, which is a significant lesson from the Arab Spring incidents. This Executive Director also advised CSOs that they could be more watchful of their governments, and even request that their governments include CSOs as part of project implementation programs. Another Executive Director commended CSO representatives for being up to date on World Bank and IMF news and publications. He suggested that the CSOs also invest the time to learn how the IMF works – specifically, what the country teams do, how the IMF management determines priorities, and the responsibilities of the Executive Directors.
This summary note was prepared by Hannah George and Audrey Liounis, Communications Officers of the Operations Communications Department (EXTOC) of the World Bank. If you have any comments or questions on the note please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.