IFI governance

Background

Supporting Social Accountability for Better Results

19 April 2012 | Minutes

Organiser: World Bank

Panelists: Corazon Juliano-Soliman (Secretary, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Philippines), Sam Worthington (CEO, InterAction), Laila Iskandar Kamel (Managing Director, Community and Institutional Development Group, Egypt), Maya Harris (Vice President, Ford Foundation)

Moderator: Caroline Anstey (Managing Director, World Bank)

Concluding Remarks: Robert Zoellick (President, World Bank Group)

The World Bank believes that now more than ever greater civic engagement and voice is crucial for development results. Robert Zoellick has spoken of the need for a new social contract to “democratise development”, that social accountability efforts can improve domestic accountability and constructive engagement between citizens and their governments, leading to improved development effectiveness. A crucial question, however, is how to support to civil society and governments in sustaining these efforts moving forward.

Caroline Anstey, WB

  • What does social accountability mean to you?

Corazon Juliano-Soliman, Philippines:

  • Social accountability means a set of tools to use, but they need to be clear, including on what a social contract is and include organised and capable citizen groups

Laila Iskandar Kamel, Egypt:

  • We’ve had a long time without social accountability, we wish the municipalities were more responsive and that WB would give us a loan
  • The environment is repressive, NGOs are under scrutiny by security services
  • Social accountability would mean getting rid of the shackles and live with dignity

Maya Harris, Ford Foundation:

  • Civil society plays a crucial role in meaningful sustainable development and makes the government more effective and responsive, leading to better performance

Sam Worthington, InterAction:

  • It’s about development effectiveness, comes down to ownership by country and society – essential to work in partnership
  • It’s an invitation for the population to take part, through civil society

Corazon Juliano-Soliman, Philippines:

  • Can’t as a government work without civil society engagement, we have a responsibility to listen to them, sometimes it’s easier said than done, but practical and sensible to be open

Laila Iskandar Kamel, Egypt:

  • But there are problem at the international level. Look at the Clean Development Mechanism, it’s driven by rich and powerful people and doesn’t serve the poor – we complain but no change
  • Question is which fight to pick, local, national, international
  • There are too many pilots going on, we need accountability on the international level

Maya Harris, Ford Foundation:

  • We try to focus on working with those closest to the problems, taking a long term view where the type of support matters

Question regarding reaching those intended and how to measure this

Sam Worthington, InterAction:

  • Indicators need to be built in and metrics developed

Corazon Juliano-Soliman, Philippines:

  • Most government agencies in the Philippines use SMS to receive feedback in partnership with 300 NGOs
  • As part of our focus on transparency, we’ve started a bottom up budget process, from village level to province

Question about social contracts and indicators, is it too complicated and is there an easier way to empower the poor?

Laila Iskandar Kamel, Egypt:

  • It’s hard work, insistence on survival is key, not tools and contracts
  • Not all governments are like the Philippines, they are different

Corazon Juliano-Soliman, Philippines:

  • We’ve got direct cash transfers, going directly to the poor

Question on what the role of the World Bank is to negotiate social contracts?

Sam Worthington, InterAction:

  • Depends on what the dialogue is with the government, in what ways to civil society have a say
  • WB can play one part, depends on knowledge, can contribute on gender and education for example

Maya Harris, Ford Foundation:

  • There are lots of conversations about the role of the government, as part of the solution, they need to be made more responsive and capable

Laila Iskandar Kamel, Egypt:

  • First the Bank must be accountable to the international community, should declare when they invest in fossil fuel, when they replace indigenous peoples. And why do they keep talking about GDP?

Caroline Anstey, WB:

  • Not the Bank of 30 years ago, now pushing national wealth accounting. But you’ve got to help too, there are 188 stakeholders to convince

Corazon Juliano-Soliman, Philippines:

  • The stakeholders have different views, but the Bank can play an important role in making the governments understand the impact of actions now for the future

Question from Niger Delta: World Bank works for its owners, the governments, and civil society feedback says that social accountability has failed in the past and that the WB has been ignoring some segments of civil society past – why was this?

Robert Zoellick, President WBG:

  • WB can’t change Nigeria, it’s up to each and everyone, but can argue for better results
  • There is a broader effort of openness and transparency, which makes for better governance
  • WB has supported civil society to date, the expanded focus on social accountability is aimed at better development – but not popular with all the Board members
  • $20m fund create, with a Board approval “in principle”
  • Should keep an open mind, want to work closely with country teams, not one size fits all
  • Also need to think about independence when giving funds
  • Regarding country support, this isn’t always necessary, need to learn from experience

Question regarding World Bank in countries where the civil society space is decreasing.

Robert Zoellick, President WBG:

  • The question is how to open the door on some of those issues
  • WB has worked with both new and transitional government in Tunisia
  • There are different views on rights in different countries
  • Regarding risk of corruption, WB asks for transparency, which also creates social capital