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Feedback from global consultations improves governance and anticorruption strategy

The World Bank Group has consulted with a wide range of stakeholders on its strategy paper, Strengthening Bank Group Engagement in Governance and Anticorruption.  Between November 10, 2006 and January 26, 2007, the Bank held consultations on the strategy with representatives of governments, donors, civil society, parliaments, private sector, academia and other stakeholders. Consultations were held in 37 developing countries and 12 donor countries, and there were several consultations with global audiences.  Further feedback came through the online forum set up to gather views. An estimated 3,200 individuals participated in the consultations worldwide.

The consultations affirmed that the Bank’s main purpose in governance and anticorruption work is to strengthen the ability of developing countries to fight poverty. There was surprising consensus around a number of issues in the strategy, and the consultations also identified areas that could be further refined or strengthened in the paper.  Among the key messages:

1. The Bank should strive to stay engaged, even in poorly governed countries.  The clear message was: “Don’t let the poor pay twice.”  The issue for the Bank is not whether to engage, but how.

2. Engage more with private sector, civil society, media, and parliamentarians.  The Bank should scale up what it is already doing with many of these key groups in efforts to promote good governance.  The private sector said the Bank should do more to help the private sector combat corruption, and sent the strong message: “integrity is good for business”.

3. The Bank should work to strengthen, rather than bypass, country systems.  Stakeholders urged the Bank to focus more on strengthening country systems through methods such as procurement and monitoring, as the long-run solution to reducing risk of fraud and corruption in Bank-financed operations.  At the same time, the consultations also called for the Bank to increase emphasis on disclosure, participation and third-party monitoring in its operations.
4. Governance monitoring should be linked to governance reform.  It is important to have clear and transparent standards to define and measure government commitment to governance and anticorruption, and to monitor progress. This will enable the Bank to be consistent in its assessments and decision-making.

5. Coordination and harmonization with other development partners is essential.  The Bank should not act alone.  This is especially necessary in higher-risk settings, to strengthen collective efforts and to avoid mixed signals.

Bank Management has reviewed the findings from the written submissions and the consultation reports.  A revised strategy paper, taking into account the main findings from the consultations, was unanimously endorsed by the Bank's Board of Executive Directors on March 20, 2007. The strategy was presented as a Background Paper during the April 2007 World Bank-IMF Spring Meetings in Washington, DC.

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