The World Bank will launch its Development Gateway internet initiative on 23 July. This site claims to contain all perspectives on virtually all development topics.
A new 11-page briefing from the Bretton Woods Project was released in April. It argues that the Gateway’s editorial proposition is crazy, that the World Bank is taking all the major decisions, that site topics are being established in ways that are convenient for people who see the world through official development lenses, but which will downplay cross-cutting issues such as gender and climate change. The editorial approach, based on ‘trusted’ individuals or institutions who will filter information and opinions based on their ‘quality’ will prove controversial to many and probably unworkable if site traffic picks up. The moves to establish independent governance are too late, and flawed by the principle that companies or countries can buy places on the Board by contributing five million dollars. Whilst some marginal changes have been made in response to criticism, the Bank is stubbornly refusing to reconsider the Gateway’s basic logic and scope.
People who want to maintain diverse internet sources on development issues are planning to contest this World Bank scheme. Actions under discussion include: an open protest letter from “concerned scholars”, a protest website, a running petition, and concerted lobbying of the World Bank’s Board ahead of its 19 July meeting on the Gateway.
A Tower of Babel on the Internet: The World Bank’s Development Gateway, Bretton Woods Project, April 2001