Notes of meeting between Minister Alan Duncan, the UK Department for International Development and C

19 September 2011 | Minutes

Date: 6 September 2011


  • Officials: Rt Hon Alan Duncan MP, Susanna Moorehead (UK Executive Director to the World Bank), Paul Healey (DFID International Financial Institutions Department), Siobhan Clifford (DFID International Financial Institutions Department)
  • Civil Society Groups: Jesse Griffiths (Bretton Woods Project), Rachel Moussie (ActionAid International), Max Lawson (Oxfam) Joanna Rea (Bond ), Christina Weller (CAFOD), Alexander Woollcombe (ONE), Jessica Epsey (Save the Children)

The Minister of State made the following introductory remarks:

  • Welcomed these regular dialogues. Good to have new topics on the agenda – and to look forward.
  • The agenda items are crucial issues for both DFID and NGOs, particularly with the UN General Assembly and the World Bank Annual Meetings coming up.

1. Gender and WDR

NGOs made the following points:

  • Good that the Bank is reengaging on gender. Impressive evidence in WDR. Good discussions of many key issues including structural causes, social institutions etc. We will be using this evidence, and encourage DFID to do so.
  • Consultation has not been open or transparent – some of the problems with the report could have been dealt with had it been.
  • Executive summary overly focussed on ‘gender equality as smart economics’ argument – does not reflect the nuance and depth of the report. Must make sure we use the detail from the report, not the overly simplified executive summary.
  • There are missing elements too. For example, on the economic crisis, the WDR suggests there have been no gender differentiated impacts, because it focuses on evidence from the formal secto – not true. Climate change and impacts of natural resource scarcity is also missing.
  • We are planning a roundtable in the autumn on this, and would welcome Ministerial attendance.

The Minister of State and officials made the following points

  • We are at one on the importance of the issue – can’t have development without it.
  • DFID is 100 per cent focussed on this issue, including on meeting MDG 5, maternal health, girls’ education. All DFID programme design must have this at its core, or it will not be approved. We are using our multilateral contributions to push this issue.
  • Bank clearly needs to rewrite the executive summary! Don’t have any problems with the issues you’ve raised.
  • Board has gone through the WDR in great detail – many have raised these issues, as well as other issues; for example gender and fragile states. The document reflects a compromise.
  • Welcome supportive comments; the UK will be encouraging sceptics to use the report. Ministers will continue to make the case. The most important work starts now – working through what we and the Bank need to do differently. Need to use the analysis to change the way people think across the Bank.
  • Take the point on consultation. However, fragile states WDR (2011) was delayed, so need to strike a balance.
  • WDR will have a UK launch – sensible to plan your event at a similar time.
  • Big step forward to have a WDR on this issue, and that the governors will be discussing it at the Development Committee.

ACTION: NGOS to approach DFID once ToRs for the event are developed. .

2. Food and agriculture

NGOs made the following points:

  • The issue did not have the attention it needed – finally rose up the political agenda in 2008. Important that the 2008 commitments and L’Aquila promises are fulfilled. Would welcome UK role in encouraging others to meet their commitments.
  • Is there an update on UK contribution to the World Bank-housed (but not run) GAFSP?
  • We understand the UK is considering a push on this issue in 2012 – do you have an update on plans, scale, timing? Important to use the upcoming opportunities at the Annual Meetings, G20, etc to keep momentum going. We are happy to support with a high profile moment in 2012 – would also help to make the case for aid.
  • We know that DFID was a supporter of the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) initiative. Are you planning to make use of the upcoming meetings and SUN anniversary to push this issue back up the agenda?
  • Doing Business Indicators – contain good elements as well as some (like tax, labour etc) that have been more controversial. We are concerned that the barriers to small business success, rural issues, and women are not properly reflected.
  • DFID have raised similar concerns before, and the IEG report in 2008 was critical, yet little has changed. Does DFID plan to make a push to reform these, and support national processes on them?

The Minister of State and officials made the following points:

  • More scope for intellectual discussion on this issue – the reasons for food insecurity are complicated
  • The Multilateral Aid Review included critiques of the FAI, WFP etc
  • Believe it has been an insufficiently high priority internationally in the past, but am open minded on the approach to take.
  • Secretary of State has asked officials to prepare a business case for GAFSP contribution. It is receiving Ministerial attention, but no decision has been made yet.
  • SUN event is a key part of the UN General Assembly meetings – Secretary is going; it’s at the top of his priorities.
  • Did analysis of nutrition as part of the bilateral aid reviews, though, like other issues, it didn’t get a separate pillar.
  • Annual Meetings resilience event likely to stress the importance of nutrition in building resilience to disasters .
  • DFID will release its nutrition position paper at the end of September.
  • Bank has moved a lot over the past two years. The crisis is galvanising action. Discussions around the Annual Meetings will not just be about short-term crisis response actions but also longer term issues, like links to vulnerability.
  • UK have made a lot of the points you raise on DBIs. A good example of how we can use the WDR – to help integrate gender into this. But need to recognise it is difficult – lack of data on the informal sector, for example.
  • Next WDR will be on jobs – will put the spotlight on DBIs. Need to recognise that Doing Business is very popular, particularly with low income countries that have moved up the ranking,

ACTION: NGOs to follow up on possible action next year to raise food security up the agenda. (Suggest NGOs get in touch with the Agriculture team)