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Capacity Development in Practice

For capacity development to have sustainable results, strengthening stakeholder ownership, the efficiency of policy instruments, and the effectiveness of organizational arrangements is critical. This insight has led donors and recipient countries to shift the focus from project-based short-term technical fixes to programmatic approaches that emphasize country ownership and capacity.


Key Issues in Capacity Development 

WBI takes a programmatic approach to capacity development. Each thematic program uses a mix of four main business lines to address countries' capacity development needs.



WBI provides platforms for nurturing and sharing innovative practical solutions to development challenges. Climate change, environmental destruction, and armed conflict are adding to the already high levels of poverty and global inequality. At the same time, new technologies and inventions offer unprecedented opportunities to poor communities. Our challenge is to encourage the adoption of innovative practices in developing countries, and to do it better and faster than ever before. 


Knowledge Exchange

Knowledge exchange includes just-in-time sharing of information and experiences among development practitioners and leaders, debates about various options for policy reform, topic-specific field visits between developing countries, or dialogues among various development stakeholders as a way of building consensus and coalitions for reform. Examples include global dialogues on the economic crisis, the Africa Local Government Action Forum, and the China-Africa experience-sharing program.



WBI’s Leadership Development Program em­phasizes managing change and managing for results. Offering customized support to high- and mid-level decision-makers and emerging leaders at the national and subnational levels who are looking for innovative solutions to tough development challenges, whether in fragile states and post-conflict situations, or in major reform initiatives such as decentralization.


Structured Learning 

Structured learning includes courses, workshops, and conferences that help clients such as government officials, private sector managers, and civil society organizations develop skills and address capacity constraints in priority sectors or disciplines. For example, WBI's Program on Health Sector Reform has trained 18,000 policy makers from 70 countries.


Thematic Approaches to Capacity Development

WBI focuses on seven themes which cut across sectors and regions and reflect strong country demand and the World Bank's corporate priorities.


Climate Change 

WBI raises awareness and understanding of the challenges and opportunities of climate change for developing countries, focusing on four key areas: cities and climate change, innovation in carbon finance; climate adaptation and water management; and leadership and coalition building.


Fragile and Conflcit-Affected States 

WBI uses rapid-results approaches and leadership programs to support fragile and conflict-affected states such as Burundi, Central Africa Republic, Chad, Haiti, and Liberia.



WBI helps develop the capacity of client countries to implement, support, and sustain governance reforms. Cross-cutting programs include Leadership Development Program, Skills Development and Advisory Services Program on Coalition Building, and Multi-stakeholder (for Reform) Program.  


Growth and Crisis 

Now more than ever, as policy makers struggle to help the jobless and restore growth, they need access in real time to new data and reliable information. Often, the most valuable source of this knowledge is other policy makers. WBI fosters the exchange of knowledge and experience on economic growth and the financial crisis among policymakers and experts.


Health Systems 

Health systems are complex. They require high levels of human capital and financial investment, a clear vision, and strong leadership and commitment. Countries, therefore, need to plan and allocate their limited resources efficiently if they are to meet their most pressing needs. WBI helps countries improve their health systems by building their capacity to implement health systems reform.


Public-Private Partnerships 

WBI helps governments facilitate Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) that mobilize private sector resources—technical, managerial, and financial—to deliver essential public services such as infrastructure, health and education. Acquiring and maintaining this expertise is often a challenge, but it is critical in determining whether or not public-private partnerships will succeed.



WBI partners with institutions and organizations to improve the quality of professional service in urban governance. Learning programs provide materials on key urban topics, delivered online, and by WBI’s partner institutions in face-to-face situations. These partners include China’s National School of Administration, Vietnam’s Academy of Management of Cities, and the Africa Center for Cities.


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