IFI governance


New analysis of how to change the Bank

15 September 1998

MIT Press has just published a fascinating analysis of efforts to change the World Bank. The Struggle for Accountability: The World Bank, NGOs and Grassroots Movements is the result of a five year evaluation of interaction between the World Bank and its critics. Both academic and NGO researchers contributed to the book which was edited by Jonathan Fox, Professor of Social Sciences at the University of California, and L. David Brown, President of the Institute for Development Research, Boston.

The book looks in detail at four projects and four reform areas. The projects are: Indonesia’s Kedung Ombo dam; the Mt. Apo geothermal power plant, the Philippines; the Planafloro land demarcation and agro-forestry project in the Brazilian Amazon; and the struggle by Ecuador’s indigenous peoples to influence loan design. The policies addressed are indigenous peoples’ rights, forced resettlement, water resources, and moves to increase public information access and accountability.

The book is original in its effort to systematically assess the impact of NGO/grassroots lobbying and also to see how coalitions form and whether international groups are representative of and accountable to grassroots groups. It concludes that public interest campaigns have had a significant impact in getting more rigorous social and environmental policies passed at the Bank. Whilst implementation has been patchy, the existence of policies has helped provide benchmarks and tools for local negotiation.

The Struggle for Accountability is $30 paperback in the US, £23.50 in the UK.