IFI governance


Bank blocked on global public goods

26 October 2000

Despite the public pressure it faced, the World Bank tried to use the Prague annual meetings to extend its remit to new issue areas. The Bank tabled a paper for the Development Committee asking shareholder governments to agree to further work by the Bank on “global public goods”, ranging from work on disease control to environmental protection and knowledge sharing.

A number of key Bank shareholder governments said they felt the Bank was over-extending itself and the Committee agreed that the Bank must assess more closely the demands made on Bank staff and resources and how it can and should work with other international organizations. Clare Short, UK Secretary of State for International Development, told the Committee that “other international institutions have specific mandates which the World Bank must respect”. A number of governments and international agencies are in discussion about which agencies should have which responsibilities in this area.


“The Bank currently faces a serious overreach problem. It’s two ambitions – [to be a premier development institution helping to forge common agendas on major issues and a large-scale funder of projects] are not compatible. They require qualitatively different governing structures, the one emphasizing equal participation and open, time-consuming processes, the other requiring hierarchical order and effective decision-making.”

Helge Ole Bergesen and Leiv Lunde

Dinosaurs or Dynamos? The UN and the World Bank at the Turn of the Century, Earthscan, 1999, p. 190.