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CSO Townhall With Jim Yong Kim and Christine Lagarde

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CSO Townhall with Kim and Lagarde
The Civil Society Townhall is the highlight of Civil Society Program during the Annual Meetings and has been held since 2004.  The Townhall featured World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde.  It was chaired by Katsuji Imata (Acting Secretary General of Civicus) and had two CSO Discussants: Sheela Patel (Chair, Slum Dwellers International) and Saman Kelegama (Executive Director, Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka).  The Townhall was attended by some 250 CSO representatives and was followed by a reception hosted by the Bank’s EXT Vice President, Cyril Muller, and IMF’s EXR Director, Gerry Rice.

  CSOs Townhall #2 
Mr. Imata began the Townhall by welcoming participants and explaining the format for the session.  Ms. Patel spoke first and noted that poor-peoples movements around the world have gained prominence and autonomy and called for their voices to be heard by the Bank.  She also raised the issues of urban poverty and needs of the urban poor and how they need to be contemplated in the post-MDGs agenda.  Mr. Kim spoke next and noted that this is his first Townhall as Bank President and feels quite at home since he comes from the civil society sector having helped create an NGO, Partners in Health, which promotes global health. He stated that among his goals, as Bank President will be to improve results and scale up operational collaboration with CSOs.  He also noted a new anti-poverty initiative called WhatWillItTake, and cited Martin Luther King on the need to “bend the arc of history” so we can eradicate poverty in our lifetime. 

CSOs Townhall #3
Mr. Kelegama made remarks about IMF – civil society relations, and noted that while the Fund maintains formal and systematic relations with governments its engagement with CSOs tends to be informal and ad-hoc.  He called on the Fund to support civil society through supporting CSO space and enabling environment, and consider affording CSOs the technical assistance it provides government.  Ms. Lagarde spoke next and reiterated the Fund’s commitment to engaging civil society and noted useful consultations with CSOs on the review of loan conditionalities and the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF).  She also noted that the international financial transaction tax agenda, supported by many CSOs, is now gaining more traction at the Fund as the 11 European members have agreed to support it.    

CSO Townhall Q and A
Mr. Imata then opened the session for questions and comments from participants and responses from Ms. Lagarde and Mr. Kim.  The main issues which came up during this period included: both the Bank and Fund are rules-based multilateral organizations and CSOs should take this into account when advocating policy and operational reforms; the Bank has incorporated gender mainstreaming into its operations; the objective of the Bank’s upcoming safeguards review will be to update and mainstream but not to dilute the policies; when the Fund provides technical assistance on tax reform it does so with two goals in mind, that taxation be redistributive and more efficient; while the Bank hasn’t traditionally advocated human rights it does in practice support social rights such as education, health, and poverty reduction; the rationale for IMF policies on phasing out of fuel and food subsidies and how it is done; the Bank will work more closely with UN agencies going forward on the post-MDG agenda; and the Bank will meet its education and health funding targets.

See the session transcript and video recording for a complete description of the session. 

Last updated: 2012-11-01

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