IFI governance


Briefing on the World Bank’s Six Strategic Themes

Spring meetings 2008

11 April 2008 | Minutes


Hans-Martin Boehmer – Strategic office
Obiageli K Ezckwesli – Vice President for Africa, Poorest countries
Markus Kostner –fragile states
Nadir Mohammed – Arab world
Jan Weetjens – Research/Knowledge acting head

John Garrison – web portal on six strategic themes – http://www.worldbank.org/sixthemes

Hans presentation

  • Six strategic themes are aimed at helping foster sustainable integration and globalisation
  • It is not a strategy – it is to try to structure work around the strategy
  • Much of this is not new work, ie Africa Action Plan
  • Way of working is important to Zoellick
    • networking is important; esp South-South networks
    • this applies to WB Group as a whole – not just IDA or IBRD – it is supposed to be synergistic
    • This is not going to be a strategy in the traditional sense – it should be an ongoing dialogue
    • We do not anticipate separate free-standing dialogues on the WB Strategy – further discussions on each issue are part of framework but not a single document
    • Decisions and development policy must be decentralised – so strategy must be dynamic d adaptive

Obiageli presentation

  • Africa is a piece of each of the themes – not a theme of its own – it permeates throughout
  • Africa is both LICs and MICs, fragile states, GPG – regional solutions are important, knowledge is key to African development
  • On LICs – how do we concentrate on certain approaches to focus ideas
  • What can be done? What are the interim goals on MDGs – esp health and skills
    • Focus on acceleration of progress
    • On health – new players means more money; but need health systems as a key element
    • On skills development – basic education does not prepare people; we must have technical and vocational skills to stop youth getting stranded between different levels of education
      • In fragile states – we must build skills of ex-combatants
      • Unemployment situation of youth is to be solved with skills development
    • On trade agenda – Africa is an expensive business address for manufacturing
      • On labour level – Africa competes with India and China
      • But cost of doing business is high – need to focus on trade logistics and trade facilitation
      • Tariff and non-tariff barriers must be addressed
      • Need to connect African markets – economic integration in Africa
      • Board approved African economic integration strategy recently after numerous consultations
      • Regional solutions are efficient/economic – ie regional electricity/power pooling and sharing in Malawi reduced costs
      • Need serious investment in infrastructure – need $22 billion investment annually plus $17-18 billion for annual maintenance
      • Economies lose 1-2% of GDP because of poor infrastructure
    • On Private Sector Development
      • FDI and local investment (PSD side) needs infrastructure, stability, set rules of the games – institutional and regulatory capacity
        • Build capacity of countries to regulate business – need regulation
      • Access to finance is also a key problem – microfinance is good solution
        • This can also economically empower women
    • Agriculture and environment issues – ie high food prices
      • High food prices good put us back 7 years on poverty goals, so we need a quick response
      • Give fiscal space for countries to do programmes for food issues – ie finance seed distribution
      • Africa is not a net-importer of food historically – we need to focus on agricultural productivity
      • AU/NEPAD mechanism is being used – Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme
      • Recognise mistakes on agriculture in Africa – but we are learning; ie Malawi is happy with WB over the subsidies to fertiliser issue
    • Governance and social exclusion
      • EITI++ – the pluses are for getting governance issues addressed across the whole supply chain, regulation, taxes, monitoring, standards of best practices, investment plans, gathering of royalties and transparency, measurement of impact
      • This is a whole value chain approach – to ensure poor actually benefit
      • Transparency must have a benefit – not just for its own sake, must help the poor
      • Guinea and Mauritania signed on to EITI++
      • On inclusion – social safety nets, conditional cash transfers


  • Process for discussions going forward
  • EITI++ – revenue sharing, problems of implementation, voluntary nature
  • Prospects for replicating Malawian success on food security

Answers – Obiageli

  • Plan for public debate: CSO strategic framework being developed now – to get systematic approach to CSO engagement
    • Pres Zoellick sees connectedness of CSO with government, so there is consultation
    • EITI++ will have country level discussions, Regional Infrastructure Process had lots of consultations
    • We have to be strategic in defining system and nature – don’t want some people to feel left out
    • CSO is huge on the agenda for Pres Zoellick
  • EITI
    • Revenue sharing is important, but political economy issues
    • Be careful of silver bullets, you have to be careful of local issues
    • Don’t underrate success of current EITI, it gave some levers for CSO and NGOs to get access and press for info and access
    • In Zambia – the pres of Z says that he wants to do EITI++; better to get voluntary ownership not to force things
  • Malawi
    • Need to replicate success of targeting of agriculture subsidies
    • There should not ideological issues, only needs to be designed so that it can not be abused
    • The WB helped Govt of Malawi to design the subsidy so that it could achieve the goal without being a drain on the Treasury
    • Trade in fertiliser can take over all agriculture policy if you aren’t careful – it can be captured so that a design issue is careful

Nadir Mohammed – in the Arab World

  • This region has been underserved, it is the Arab League members
  • Includes many African countries, huge differences in economic development
  • Arab world has been least integrated in world economy
  • Unique problems: Severity of water problems, gender, large public sector, education quality, also conflict
  • Goal to achieve: foster integration; more inclusive growth; address specific priorities of above
  • All 6 themes are relevant to Arab World
  • We have had consultations for a while, Arab governments, in countries, Arab Leagues, in Egypt World Economic conference soon, etc

Markus Kostner on fragile states

  • We had a head start, 15 years ago WB started work on conflict issues
  • Reflections -> group in 3 areas: research/leaning, partnerships, inst and financial support
  • Achievements recently:
    • Research: Breaking the Conflict Trap; Learning: trainings for governments coming out of conflict, training course for staff on working in conflict areas, research/seminar series on these areas
    • Partnership: the WB can not do this on its own, mainly bilateral donors in the past, tool with UN on “needs assessment”, principles of good engagement in fragile states developed
      • Example Common assistance framework (17 partners) to support DRC after elections early last year, WB did coordination
    • Institutional and financial support: Starting with IDA12, up to IDA15 – extra support to post-conflict countries – covers period of 10 years; engaging countries with arrears – extended from 3 to 5 years for access
      • Good practice principles
      • Policy on rapid response to crisis and emergencies
      • Framework for strengthened WB resources and capacity
  • Goals: achieve results on the ground, ie Liberia; leverage our experience for our partners; expand range of partners exploit synergies in WB group; be more decentralised; have an even better impact.
    • Research/learning: a series of guidance notes for WB and partner staff – to capture operational ideas; more systematic approach to staff training – invite partner staff
    • Partnership: push to work better with UN system incl practical improvements; reach out to new international partners like MICs (BICS); additional funding through IFC for SMEs in fragile states – new investment fund;
    • Inst and Finance: established new state and peace-building fund – amalgamate LICUS and some other fragile states funds at the Bank; involved in anti-corruption work as well to get it working together
  • Hans’ comments – new president’s energy is key, learning is still low so we need to know more

Jan Weetjens on research agenda

  • Entire development agenda can not be determined by one agency; development process is a learning process
  • To achieve priorities in other 5 areas – we need to work differently – needs to be a learning process
  • Where is the knowledge about development sitting? It is sitting in developing countries, with partners, donors, NGOs
  • It won’t work well to tell people that we know the answers
  • Shift now that Bank’s share in capital flows is very small, relevance is not based on financial resources; so knowledge/learning is our best relevance
  • Three areas of focus: partnerships, transfers, interpretation
  • Partnerships: needs South-South and South-North; it is not knowledge transfer as before it is exchanging experiences
    • Communities of practice are important – specialists share experience; previously had thematic groups – but need to take to next level so that the thematic groups are larger than just the WB – bigger communities of practice
    • Tap into best global knowledge available – best experts like Nobel prize experts, we can invite people and create forums; but harder to make links between this top notch knowledge to task teams, partners, CSO, clients etc
    • Website – we need to improve our websites, we recognise difficulty and inconsistency, we will clean up our acts
  • Making knowledge transfer to operations and vice versa
    • Empowering task teams so that the goal is solving problems, not pushing projects at the board
      • Demonstrate dialogue, looking at past experience
    • Systematic impact evaluation – need precise knowledge about what works and what doesn’t
      • Ie Community driven development – how to do women benefit or not from giving money to village councils – learn from the reality and measure what works
  • Making sure global knowledge is adapted to local conditions – people respect and appreciate databases that are available.
    • We are weaker on interpreting knowledge and translating to local conditions
    • Must make task teams have space; we will have global practice groups so that country/regional specialists can cross regions and share experiences – like what McKinsey does


  • On Doing Business and reports – concern is there method to engage governments for reform after a report is done – to make sure women can compete on an equal level?
  • Will something new be done for accountability at the country level? How can you ensure that actions will be local
  • How do we incentivise synergies for outcomes? WB/IMF are servants for member states; we need to change the paradigm for a coordinated effort – group sharing the power together

Jan on taking a report forward

  • Learning process is making sure what is written is used – final delivery is not the report; but the dialogue based on that report in country
  • People must get rewarded not for writing a report but for knowledge flow after


  • On accountability – need to expand to more countries
    • Staff training is key – needs to adapt knowledge but also greater sensitivity
    • Centre and regional offices help local offices on strategies and engagement
  • Incentivise synergies
    • This is a real objective and desire of Zoellick – great incentive to do it


  • Zoellick will call for a “new multilaterism” – revisiting how institutions working
  • He is resisting pressure for a WBG strategy – because he wants flexibility
    • Understanding role is important, but also understanding needs and addressing them is important