Notes of meeting between UK Executive Director to World Bank and Civil Society Groups

18 August 2011

15 September 2011 | Minutes

World Bank – Susanna Moorehead, UK Executive Director
DFID – Paul Healey, Siobhan Clifford
NGOs – Jesse Griffiths (Bretton Woods Project), Ana Paula Canestrelli (Bretton Woods Project), Tina Weller (CAFOD), Henry Northover (Water Aid),
Emily Cooper (World Vision UK), Bandula Kothalawala (TUC), Conrad Feather (Forest People’s Programme), Sarah Shaw (IPPF), Kate Dooley (Save the Children), Olga Golichenko (AIDS Alliance)

1. Water

NGOs made the following points:

  • Update on the findings from the Water Aid – ODI research. We would like to have a dialogue with the Bank about strengthening performance framework to ensure better pro-poor targeting and it would be helpful if the UK ED could support that.
  • We plan to develop a performance framework with a set of benchmarks for the board could use when considering Bank projects. Some of the methodologies used by Water Aid could be useful for Bank processes, but we would need to find out the appropriate language and framework for this.

Susanna Moorehead and DFID officials made the following points:

  • This is very timely; there has been a push on pro-poor outcomes recently.
  • The IDA 16 framework represents a step-change with a much more rigorous results framework.
  • We welcome advice and help with benchmarks. The more we can work together and come up with methodologies, the better. Having very concrete examples, makes our arguments more persuasive. NGOs will have a greater impact on what the Bank does if they engage at this early design stage.
  • Keep us in the loop, we want to be informed.
  • PSIA has done this to some extent – DFID is currently doing its annual review of support for this PSIA.

ACTION: Water Aid to send ED the discussion paper, and follow up with DFID staff.

2. Bank’s private sector approach

NGOs made the following points:

  • Concerns about the Bank’s role in the G20 development working group, they are producing background papers which focus the discussion on results and on growth. We worry that it doesn’t do enough to focus on growth for the poorest: “inclusive growth” a step in the right direction, but still some way to go.
  • NGOs have difficulties accessing what’s going on in the G20 process, we would like the Bank to consult civil society before drafting documents, and the process should be more transparent. What support can we have from the UK to improve the transparency of Bank’s input into the G20 process?
  • Concerns about investment climate advice from the Bank and the IFC, how far is it focussed on poverty reduction? CAFOD is preparing a paper, including a focus on recognised blind spots including rural and smaller enterprises. Can we get support from the ED to push for a review of the Doing Business ranking? How can we get a debate started and how do we get things to change towards a greater focus on poverty reduction?
  • The Employing workers indicator was suspended after years of trade union complaints – but there is still no clarity on how it is being revised. Information would be helpful.
  • Good that DFID’s annual objectives for the Bank include the development of a policy on offshore financial centres. This is an area of strong civil society interest, yet no information is available. Can the UK push for greater transparency and consultation?

Susanna Moorehead and officials made the following points:

  • The Bank is seen as a source of technical expertise to draft papers for the G20. There are no templates for how this is done; rather it depends on who is chairing the working group and on the presidency of the G20. The decision as to what is shared and consulted about usually rests with the G20 group, the presidency and not the Bank.
  • Inclusive growth is at the top of the agenda. There is always debate about how it is defined. The draft working groups report has good points, for example on SME finance and financial inclusion.
  • The focus on poverty reduction at the IFC is increasing. About 45% of IFC lending (in number of projects) now goes to Sub-Saharan Africa. The IFC’s model recognises the need to start small in terms of volume, and then build up presence. So a low percentage of overall lending doesn’t mean that the IFC is not trying to do more in IDA countries. About a quarter of expenditure goes to fragile states. We keep a close eye on this.
  • Doing Business is a popular, best selling publication with good quality research, and it is unlikely to be dislodged from that position. The move into specific indicators for infrastructure and access to services is welcome. To influence it we have to show how it can be best used. The report is not a diagnostic tool; it is a means to evaluate where a country is.  It does not  imply a policy change. Many of the criticisms are about how the results are used.   We want to focus on better measurement of impact of investment climate reform.
  • The IFC is  reviewing its policy on non-cooperative jurisdictions.  We have been discussing this informally. It is a difficult issue and we hope to get a balance that works for all shareholders. We would like to know which parts of civil society – – particularly in Part II countries – are  in favour of a transparency policy.  Are there any disagreements about whether this should be part of the Bank’s concern? The board is likely to discuss again in 3rd quarter.

ACTION: DFID will get more information and get back to us on EWI.
ACTION: DFID will check whether there is a consultation plan to inform civil society on the IFC’s OFC work.

3. Health and Nutrition

NGOs made the following points:

  • As the IDA funds a large proportion of the MDG framework and IDA 17 will fund the post 2015 framework, we are keen to see more SRH indicators in IDA 17. The IPPF Scorecard was presented in July to the staff of the HNP division and to several Executive Directors. We would like to have support from the ED in promoting a focus on the development of the Bank’s regional plans and in ensuring this is reflected in the WDR outline.
  • Concern’s about the Bank’s support to scaling up nutrition on fragile and volatile contexts where there is no political will for this, such as the Horn of Africa.
  • Save the Children country offices are reporting that some Bank staff and offices are not supporting removal of user fees in health sector; some may be encouraging governments to reintroduce them. We are looking into this (example: Liberia) and will check the evidence, but wanted to flag it in advance.

Susanna Moorehead and officials made the following points:

  • We are also focussed on SRH; it is a priority for the Secretary of State. The consultation with civil society is very helpful and will promote positive changes. We have raised the issues in the NGO scorecard with management.
  • The UK is very supportive of reproductive health being well referenced in the WDR.
  • The last WDR on conflict affected and fragile states is getting into the DNA of the Bank – there have been regular discussions, the Bank is locating a new global centre for conflict, security and development in Nairobi. It is work in progress, but the board will be focussed on this.

3. Other issues

Safeguards review

NGOs made the following points:

  • What is the UK position on FPIC within WB safeguards?
  • How can we be sure that performance standards will be strengthened in the review and treated as binding mandatory requirements?
  • DFID’s priorities document flags up accountability to borrowers, but what about accountability to people on the ground who are affected?
  • What is the current status of the review process?

Susanna Moorehead and officials made the following points:

  • We will have to follow up on the details. The IFC performance standards include FPIC, large improvement on existing standards and it is important that they are seen as part of a larger package. We need to get the best possible package in a difficult negotiation and we cannot tie ourselves to just one or two points. What we are trying to do is make the safeguards more effective. We can’t make promises on what will be delivered as it is a negotiation.

ACTION: DFID to follow up on timing for review.


NGOs made the following points:

  • Update on latest progress on energy strategy?

Susanna Moorehead and officials made the following points:

  • Nothing new to report, we are trying to get an agreement, don’t think will have anything before Annual Meetings. A lot of time and energy is going into this.

4. AOB


NGOs made the following points:

  • Disappointed that there was no representative from trade unions on the external advisory group for the Bank’s social protection and labour strategy review. The TUC has made a submission.

WDR on gender

NGOs made the following points:

  • From the background paper on the gender WDR, the issue is framed in the Bank’s traditional economic approach to gender. We want it to be discussed more broadly, not just with economic factors. People think it matters to talk about gender, but it also matters how you frame it, this could be either a step forwards or backwards. It is better than to have no approach, but if it limits your thinking then it could be a negative thing.

Susanna Moorehead and officials made the following points:

  • Highlighted the importance of the Bank producing a WDR on gender, it is now on Ministers/Governors’ Development Committee agenda for discussion, something which would not have been possible a few years ago. The UK and other shareholders have worked hard to make the Bank take gender equality more seriously and we hope UK NGOs will support us in this. This is an opportunity for everyone. This can be discussed further at the meeting with the Minister of State in September.