Highlights of BWI-UK network meeting with Douglas Alexander

4 October 2007

5 October 2007 | Minutes


a. DFID and HMT

  • Douglas Alexander, Secretary of State for International Development
  • Caroline Sergeant, UK Alternate Executive Director to the WB
  • Sally Taylor, Head of International Financial Institutions Department, DFID
  • Peter Taylor, Head of World Bank team, IFID, DFID
  • Gerry Duffy, Policy Advisor, DFID
  • Mark Bowman, Director International Finance, HMT

b. NGOs

  • Bronwen Thomas, Climate Change Campaigns Officer, People and Planet
  • Jessica Woodroffe, Leader of Economic and Social Develppment Advocacy Team, ActionAid
  • Akanksha Marpatia, Senior Education Policy Analyst, ActionAid
  • Trisha Rogers, Director, Jubilee Debt Campaign
  • Besinati Mpepo, Sr Economic Justice Advisor, World Vision
  • Phil Bloomer, Director of Campaigns and Policy, Oxfam
  • Oliver Cumming, Sanitation and Environment Policy Officer, WaterAid
  • Maria Arce, Policy Advisor, Practical Action
  • Olivia McDonald, Senior Policy Officer, Christian Aid
  • Stephen Kidd, Director of Policy, HelpAge International
  • Jeff Oatham, Programme Officer Global Accountability, One World Trust
  • Jeff Powell, Coordinator, Bretton Woods Project
  • Sarah Shoraka, Forest Campaigner, Greenpeace
  • Cath Long, Rainforest Foundation

Douglas Alexander opening remarks

  • Met with Robert Zoellick ten days after he had started his new post. Zoellick was “open and receptive”, and his priorities were internal stabilisation and the strategic review. Alexander emphasised UK priorities including voice and conditionality.
  • Zoellick will make a speech 10 Oct where he will detail his six priorities: low-income countries (esp. SSA and SA), fragile states, addressing poverty in middle-income countries, global public goods, esp. climate change, economic development in the Islamic world, and use of World Bank knowledge to better serve. He emphasised that he did not believe that Zoellick’s approach to the Islamic world would be ideological.

1. Bank and Fund strategic reviews

  • Mark Bowman re-iterated UK position on IMF governance reform
  • In response to a specific question on the use of double majority, Alexander said it was “wrong to see this as a technical issue, it is a question of whether you can build a consensus for reform”
  • Caroline Sergeant added that there was a joint European position on the Bank’s latest voice paper (not publicly available)

2. Aid effectiveness

  • On conditionality, Alexander said that “what matters is outcomes”. He told Zoellick that he wants to see continued progress on conditionality, decentralisation and effectiveness, and a “clear vision of where IDA sits in the international aid system”. The UK priority is on implementation of the conditionality good practice principles – they are awaiting the consultant report which is due in November ahead of IDA replenishment meetings.

3. Clean energy investment framework

  • Alexander said that “if a sovereign country wants to develop fossil fuels, it is our responsibility to do what we can to assist” On renewables and energy efficiency targets, the UK wants the World Bank to come back to them with targets.
  • On biofuels, he referred to his experience as transport minister helping to set EC sustainability standards for biofuels, and cautioned against throwing the baby out with the bath water.
  • Quoted Glenys Kinnock saying that climate change can make poverty in the future.
  • “Heartened” by Zoellick’s awareness of climate change.
  • On Environmental Transformation Fund, the UK wants ‘multilateralism with an edge’, use the money to leverage other funds. Gerry Duffy later added that all “issues were open” in ETF implementation – the World Bank might act as manager, but other agencies would be involved in implementation. The UK wants “better collaboration, more ambition, and smarter targets” from the CEIF – then the ETF can be “transformational beyond that” (made specific reference to the possibility of extending carbon capture and storage technology to developing countries, much talk of ‘leapfrogging’).

4. Other issues

  • There was no response on illegitimate debt, other than Sally Taylor saying it was Norway’s responsibility to follow up on the paper they had commissioned with the Bank.
  • On social protection, Alexander agreed that Bank approach should not be prescriptive in terms of which model to employ.
  • On forests, he wanted to make clear that, contrary to the Guardian piece (of the same day), the UK did not promote industrial logging in the DRC (Rainforest Foundation and Greenpeace, had not said this, and had in fact complimented the UK for its work on alternatives to industrial logging in the DRC). Sergeant later added that she “didn’t see why not” in response to a question of whether the Bank would insist that a moratorium remain in place after a legality review in the DRC.
  • On the IMF and wage bill ceilings, Bowman said he had not seen the IMF response to the Goldsborough report, but was looking forward to receiving the ActionAid report on the same issues.
  • On aid harmonisation, Sergeant pushed NGOs to get (esp. southern) colleagues to push their governments to demand donor accountability. She would look into the question of whether the Bank was doing enough to encourage southern government/CSO participation in the process.