Meeting on the World Bank with DFID

April 2010

28 April 2010 | Minutes

Before the spring and annual meetings, the Secretary of State usually meets civil society organisations, but was unable to attend because of the upcoming elections. Instead, a meeting was held with Rachel Turner, a senior DFID official and the UK’s IDA deputy.


DFID: Melinda Bohannon, Oliver Knight, Greg Briffa, Nick Godfrey, Siobhan Clifford
NGOs: Ruth Davis (Greenpeace), Melissa Hall (ActionAid), Amy Horton (Bretton Woods Project), Ama Marston (Bretton Woods Project), Sol Oluela (CAFOD), Aaron Oxley (Results), Sara Shaw (Tearfund), Kathleen Spencer-Chapman (Oxfam), Dominic White (WWF-UK), Eliot Whittington (Christian Aid)

1. Energy strategy review

  • World Bank should have a limited role in the sector, focused on increasing access to energy and facilitating the transition to low-carbon development. The recent loan to Eskom in South Africa does not appear to support these objectives, but has serious social and environmental impacts and means resources will not be invested in other, more sustainable ways.
  • Bank staff at the recent consultation seemed more receptive to private sector views than civil society perspectives.
  • There are concerns that the Bank’s energy classifications and reporting do not accurately reflect its portfolio. For example, the inclusion of finance from the Climate Investment Funds (CIFs) and the GEF, which are not a structural part of Bank lending, inflates the figures for Bank support to renewable energy.

Officials’ response:

  • In general, shareholders are keen for the Bank to be more selective in what it undertakes, and the new overarching Bank strategy should help ensure that.
  • Regarding the future energy strategy, civil society organisations may want to consider issues relating to the World Bank’s comparative advantage, and whether this argues in favour of them focusing on poverty reduction outcomes (through a greater focus on decentralised energy provision, for example) or supporting sustainable economic growth (through large-scale clean energy provision, for example).
  • There is likely to be resistance if it is perceived that donors are pushing the energy strategy in certain directions.
  • We believe there may be further fossil fuel projects in the pipelines of the various MDBs and we are working to get further clarification of timings etc.
  • Action: BWP to set-up an NGO meeting with DFID on energy strategy, coal investments and best role for World Bank in energy investments.

2. REDD and the forestry sector

Main NGO points:

  • The Bank’s role in the forestry sector has tended to support practices supporting deforestation and there is a danger of the same being embodied in the way Bank sets up REDD activities.
  • There are also concerns that forestry funds are being placed outside of the Forest Investment Program (FIP) and Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) which have not yet shown if they will be beneficial. However outside these funds, finance for forestry is likely to replicate deforestation and logging practices.

Officials’ response:

  • We agree that’s a clear concern, although in general there has been good progress on national REDD strategies, which should form part of broader low-carbon development strategies.
  • Action: Nick Godfrey to arrange a follow-up meeting.

3. Climate finance

Main NGO points:

  • Civil society is seeking information about where the UK’s pledge for fast-start finance will be channelled. It has been difficult to get clarity on this from government and there is concern about using the World Bank or the CIFs as a default, especially in light of Bank’s recent coal lending.
  • There are concerns that the CIFs appear to be being integrated into broader Bank activities.
  • The recent CIFs Partnership Forum for civil society engagement showed some improvements on previous meetings, but their scheduling limited participation and came after subcommittee meetings, undermining their potential to influence those meetings.
  • Country involvement, and particularly civil society participation, in country plans has been limited.
  • The government’s planned replenishment of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) is too modest and burden-sharing agreements mean that it will limit contributions from other donors.

Officials’ response:

  • There’s no clarity yet as to where fast-start finance will go.
  • The CIFs admin unit is aware of the scheduling problems with the Partnership Forum.
  • There is a difference between the Bank’s role in trust funds and fiduciary role for the CIFs, although we’ll look into the concerns about integration.
  • What should an increase to the GEF come at the expense of?

4. Agriculture

Main NGO points:

  • The World Bank plans to increase its lending to agriculture and is already one of the biggest sources of finance.
  • We support the UK government’s decision not to contribute to the Global Agriculture and Food Security Programme trust fund. Instead we favour use of the UN system and see no role for the IFC.
  • Support to agriculture should be focused on reducing hunger. Supporting woman small holder farmers something the Bank has no expertise in, yet this is where the biggest in-roads on hunger and poverty can be made.
  • ActionAid report, ‘Fertile Ground’, released on 22 April including through Spring meeting side event (Public Financing for Agriculture: What Lessons for the World Bank and other Donors?).

Officials’ response:

  • It would be good to discuss synergies between agriculture and REDD.
  • Greater transparency in civil society REDD projects is needed.
  • Relevant side events at the spring meetings.

5. IDA replenishment and health

Main NGO points:

  • We welcome plans for a Bank-civil society working group on health, nutrition and population, given the Bank’s poor and deteriorating performance in this sector.
  • Action: Aaron Oxley to send latest IEG report on health to Rachel Turner.

Officials’ response:

  • IDA replenishment should be linked to a performance framework with targets. Civil society input on measuring performance would be welcome.
  • Action: DFID to arrange a meeting before next IDA replenishment meeting.