IFI governance


The future of NGO World Bank strategy discussed

15 December 1998

In October the Bank Information Center held a strategy meeting for 80 people from NGOs and foundations concerned about the World Bank. The meeting brought together groups from 25 Countries involved in many different aspects of the Bank’s work.

Participants held varied views on many issues but many agreed that the Bank has changed in some respects that structural flaws have prevented a more fundamental reorientation. The Brazil Network on the MDBs circulated a paper at the meeting suggesting that:

  1. “instead of propagating inequalities among nations, such entities should be equipped to play an influential role in reducing such inequalities.”

The key to achieving this is the real democratisation of power relations within the Banks and also questioning “communication and decision-making among civil society organizations aiming to reform those institutions’ policies and programs.” They suggest the formation of a common minimum platform and closer coordination among NGOs from the North. Strengthening national networks within recipient countries is also a priority.

A note on the Bank’s future and the challenges for NGOs submitted by Kavaljit Singh of the Public Interest Research Group, Delhi, suggested that the Bank will:

  1. shift from lender to advisor, thinktank and facilitator;
  2. work more on social and political issues, “to provide stability to the neoliberal framework”;
  3. adopt a more consensus approach, with less use of conditionality;

For NGOs:

  1. transparency and information disclosure will no longer be among the main issues;
  2. other institutions which partner the Bank will also need to be tackled;
  3. specific campaigns and problems need to be raised in the context of the Bank’s basic unequal structure and neoliberal ideology;

Workshops considered in detail

  1. democracy/political reform;
  2. debt/unproductive lending;
  3. setting the framework for environmental and social issues
  4. restructuring the global financial architecture.

The Brazil Network and PIRG strategy notes are available from the Bretton Woods Project. Notes from the Washington strategy session from Bank Information Center (bicusa@igc.apc.org).

Those interested in further discussions on North-South NGO coordination and communication contact David Hunter, Center for International Environmental Law, cieldh@igc.apc.org.