CSO Roundtable with World Bank executive directors

9 October 2012 | Minutes

This was a roundtable discussion between IMF and World Bank Group (WBG), Executive Directors (EDs) with accredited civil society representatives to promote an exchange of views and discussion on key issues of the 2012 Annual Meeting agenda: global economy, disaster resilience, social and environmental safeguards, and global health.

Panelists: Hideaki Suzuki (World Bank ED for Japan), Merza Hasan (World Bank ED for Kuwait / Middle Eastern Constituency), Emele Duituturaga (Executive Secretary, Pacific Islands Association of Non-Governmental Organizations / PIANGO), Milwida Guevara (President, Synergia Foundation).

Note: EDs are speaking of their personal opinion, not the opinion of the World Bank.

Prepared questions and answers

Hideaki Suzuki – Japanese World Bank ED gave an introduction to the meeting and welcome to participants. CSOs now play an important role in promoting the World Bank’s operations. It is very important to hear from the field to understand what is going on.

Mr. Inaba, Japanese CSO platform

  • I hope there is more attention to global development issues, and attention on these meetings. Inequality and poverty are also issues domestically in Japan.
  • IMF advice for Japan (ie pensions) is problematic because it could widen the income gap. Japanese CSOs strongly believe the IMF should stop giving this advice.
  • More job-intensive policies are needed to improve employment and reduce inequality. We also need better disaster risk management, not just natural disasters but also man-made disasters. .
  • The post-2015 framework also needs to be discussed by IMF/World Bank meetings.

Ms. Duuturaga, PIANGO of Fiji

  • What is the Bank doing to reduce negative spillovers from euro-crisis?
  • How can EDs help Jim Yong Kim incorporate CSOs into the Bank’s work?
  • How will the Bank help protect and promote an enabling environment for civil society through democracy?
  • Will you consider human rights conditionality in Bank policies?
  • How do you perceive Dr. Kim?
  • We keep hearing about PPPs despite demands for greater accountability and public services, why? How does the Bank plan to increase participation of and dialogue with marginalised groups and sectors?
  • How is the Bank engaging meaningfully with youth and empowering them as agents of change?

Ms Guevara, Synergia Foundation of Philippines

  • IMF wisdom is finite, it has more to get from engaging in open and inclusive consultation.
  • It needs to stop its exclusiveness in terms of engagement, as some governments are inept or corrupt.
  • There is a big range of NGOs as well – but participation with IMF is erratic and one-way traffic.
  • Public policies are better if they are structured with all stakeholders. CSO could also benefit from more training from the IMF themselves.

Merza Hasan (ED from Kuwait)

  • CSOs are a central part of country policy strategies, because of their useful input and knowledge.
  • The World Bank emphasises the results and knowledge agenda. But the World Bank needs to be flexible, tolerant and raise the risk appetite; this is why we don’t want more safeguards.
  • We are also moving to Open Data as well.

Gwen Hines (UK ED)

  • Economics is now a core part of development because of globalisation.
  • We are thinking about impacts of global issues, including euro spillovers. The IFC is stepping up loans to SMEs now for example. For now, it is about awareness and risk management right now.

Piero Cipollone (Italy ED)

  • There is a reference in the World Development Report 2013 on jobs and how employment is a key part of development, especially youth unemployment. The private sector must provide jobs, while government provides enabling environment, except in the exceptional cases.
  • It must have the right macroeconomic fundamentals, rule of law, balanced labour market regulation and proper sequencing of reform.
  • The problems at the country level have to be solved.
  • The Bank needs to take action: i.e. invest in education, social safety nets, working to foster development of SMEs.

Rogerio Studdart (Brazil ED)

  • The capacity of the Bank to leverage demands for accountability are key. The World Bank is now a small financier; but it has also been slow to respond.
  • We have a number of issues the international community have not handled well – ie climate change and financial crisis. But we are dedicating fewer resources to these.
  • On IMF side – quick response for providing more money; but the Bank is not as quick. The push for the private sector is natural to get jobs, but it also has to do with need for massive investment and resources.
  • NGOs must change the way they operate too- particularly with regard the World Bank – to enhance accountability over private sector, not just over the public sector.

Juan Jose Bravo (Mexico ED)

  • We are trying to help our members meet their human rights obligations, for example health. We have tools like the Inspection Panel to make sure we stay within norms.
  • We still need NGO eyes and information. We have to balance rules and effectiveness – the world needs to be more rapid in getting jobs and helping investment. We must be faster. We don’t need more safeguards on other things.

Open questions and answers

Zed Ali, Egypt – CSOs are helping to create a new world order. Why do the IMF and the World Bank continue to support corrupt governments especially when the needs of people are not being met? The Bank has some big moves to make, leadership is good, but this needs to cascade down to all IFI employees.

Mr Aziz, Pakistan – What is the Japanese CSO engagement with government like? What will the terms of engagement with civil society be? What are the Bank’s goals and priorities, as opposed to generalised conversations? We need a country-based engagement strategy – our governments do not represent poor people!

M Hellmy, MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region – MENA countries are different, how does this get taken in consideration at the WB? What are efforts of WB related to informal sector, food prices, youth unemployment?

Jan Aart Scholte, UK – In the long-term thinking ED engagement with CSOs is now lower than in the 1990s. While IFI staff are now good at relating to CSOs, but there are no IMF EDs. What can Bank EDs do more?

CSO participant – Domestic revenue mobilisation is very important? How can the WB support reform on this?

Juan Jose Bravo – We don’t finance governments, we finance countries. We benefit people. We have corrupt people, not corrupt countries. This is very complicated. We have to work with people.

Merza Hasan – Good governance and learning from engagement, not punishment is important. Also, Executive Directors’ doors are open and we are dedicating time to meet with CSOs. On MENA we are trying to do more. When governments change it is difficult. When governments stabilise we are going to intervene heavily.

Rogerio Studdart – What difference should World Bank engagement make? It creates a long-term perspective in the project. We need to make governments accountable. You should embrace transparency and the results focus. Disengagement will not stop bad things from happening. It will make governments accountable. The World Bank has been piling the mandates – it doesn’t have the resources or the focus. There needs to be one instrument for one objective. I.e. poverty mandate and social inclusion. We need to find an anchor – we support Dr Kim’s approach.

Mr Inabi – We have a one-year engagement timescale for planning the meetings. NGOs are quite involved.

Hideaki Suzuki – The World Bank is doing projects to deal with increasing food prices – both private and public side.

Gwen Hines – On MENA, how can the World Bank operate with the Deauville partnership is being worked on. Regional integration in MENA is also key. We also need to realise that ongoing dialogue is happening, especially at the local level. Now a question for you. How can the WB do better? Especially incentives and focus shift to admit when things go wrong? Come and tell EDs what is working right. World Bank staff are listening to people’s views.

Piero Cipollone – There have been many explanations for the informal sector. A method for engagement at the country level is required to solve the problem.

Stephanie Fried, US – In the context of safeguard review, 125 Indonesian CSO’s have written a letter regarding bad implementation of World Bank safeguards, highlighting the massive social and environmental impacts. They do not want any weakening of policies and upward harmonisation. Can we support Jim Yong Kim to make this public commitment?

Ming Hao, Coordinating Assembly for Non Governmental Organisations (CANGO), China – How can new WB president support South-South cooperation. Especially learning from China? Not just funding but also knowledge?

Nurgul D, Kyrgyzstan – Women’s rights are not political rhetoric – they constitute a practical question; what measures do you plan to use for gender equality? What practical steps will you take, such as women’s access to finance or gender-based budgets, especially in rural areas?

H Yacoobi, Afghanistan – The women’s situation in Afghanistan is precarious.

NGO participant – Is there a caucus of democracies among World Bank/IMF ED members?

M Tivana, CIVICUS – There has been some positive progress:the social accountability framework was positive, the IFC review process, the business and Human rights framework. We welcome the World Bank focus on shared prosperity.

Ms Ramirez – We need to have this sort of dialogue at the national and regional level. We need a sanctioned process to follow UN recommendations.

Gwen Hines – We accept and will encourage Jim Yong Kim to sign up to no policy dilution, but it is a question of effectiveness and things are still going wrong. We need to focus on the end result, not the means. Lets figure out how to make it work. We need a shift from “Do no harm” to “maximise the good”.

Piero Cipollone – We are being serious about gender, no country assistance strategies (CAS) have been approved without gender since last year. All projects have a gender framework. We are also investing in knowledge. The scorecard has gender indicators as well. It is very difficult to set policies that work for everyone so we set a methodology that can be applied at the country level.

On fragile states it is difficult to know where to start. Maybe we increase the World Bank risk tolerance. We should be embracing failure to learn from it.

Rogerio Studdart – The World Bank had a tradition of seeing things from a North-South perspective. It has goodwill, but impact would be more significant if it leveraged knowledge in developing countries i.e. if you put gender equality at the centre, you get better results. Brazil has demonstrated this experience with its Conditional Cash Transfers (CCTs). I think gender equality and education should be the anchor for the Bank’s work.

Merza Hasan – When it comes to knowledge we should not care where it comes from (North or South). On the board we need to be more developmental rather than political. Improve our instruments to increase the voice and engage stakeholders. This is the safe choice.

Hideaki Suzuki – The World Bank has been trying to coordinate with other donors. This has not been fully satisfactory but it has made a lot of progress over the last two decades.

Jose Bravo – CSOs are important for the good environment for development, and ensuring accountability. Resources are limited, but there are ways to improve. Give us ideas about how to improve this process.

Hideaki Suzuki – Remember EDs do not representing the new president. My impression – I was inspired by Dr. Kim’s NGO background in Haiti. He is challenging the staff and shareholders. The Bank will be different under his leadership.