The world witnessed a new level of civil society activism over the past few years. From the Arab Spring in the Middle East to the anticorruption movements in India and the “occupy” movement in some Western countries, citizens and civil society organizations (CSOs) went to the streets to demand greater political participation and economic opportunities.
CSOs also increased their engagement with the World Bank Group, stepping up efforts to influence policies and seeking greater operational collaboration at the country level. From the growing numbers of civil society representatives attending the Annual and Spring Meetings, to the establishment of a new fund to support social accountability efforts, relations between CSOs and the World Bank continued to expand and deepen during the past three years.
It is against this backdrop that we are pleased to present the World Bank–Civil Society Engagement Review of Fiscal Years 2010–12, the most comprehensive of the Civil Society Review series since its first edition in 2002. It illustrates how these relations have evolved in many areas ranging from information disclosure and policy dialogue, to operational collaboration.
The growing number of CSO representatives who attended the Annual and Spring Meetings most clearly exemplifies these intensifying relations. While less than 100 CSO representatives attended the Annual Meetings a decade ago, by 2011 over 600 participated in the weeklong Civil Society Program. The World Bank also held nearly two dozen consultations at the global level on sector strategies, financing instruments, and research studies over the period, conducting more than 600 public consultation meetings throughout the world and gathering the views of some 13,000 stakeholders. The World Bank also continued to actively engage specific constituencies, such as trade unions, foundations, and youth.
The Review also highlights important examples of operational collaboration in the areas of health, education, disaster recovery, and environmental protection. At the country level, innovative joint initiatives were undertaken—such as establishing a regional network on social accountability in Jordan, monitoring World Bank projects in Nigeria, and earthquake recovery efforts in Haiti. As the chart below indicates, there was civil society involvement in 82 percent of all 1,018 new projects funded over the three-year period.
It is perhaps in the area of governance, however, that the most significant steps were taken to strengthen World Bank-CSO institutional relations. While CSOs have played an advisory role in a number of funding mechanisms over the years, they now serve as decision makers in funding mechanisms focusing on food security and social accountability.
The appointment of Dr. Jim Yong Kim as the Bank’s president, in July 2012, provides a new opportunity to strengthen relations with civil society even further. As the first president to have worked in and helped establish a CSO (Partners in Health, based in Boston), Dr. Kim is expected to bring the needed understanding and commitment to finding ways to both accelerate and scale up operational collaboration and institutional partnerships with CSOs going forward.
We welcome your comments and look forward to incorporating the findings and the many lessons embedded in this report to further strengthen the quality of engagement with our civil society colleagues worldwide. Please send comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Full Report - ENGLISH
Executive Summary – ARABIC
Executive Summary – CHINESE
Executive Summary – ENGLISH
Executive Summary – FRENCH
Executive Summary – SPANISH
Executive Summary – RUSSIAN