UK civil society meeting with UK World Bank Executive Director Gwen Hines

3 December 2012

7 January 2013 | Minutes


World Bank:
Gwen Hines, UK World Bank Executive Director

Siobhan Clifford, International Financial Institutions Department
Paul Heeley, International Financial Institutions Department

Peter Chowla, Bretton Woods Project
Petra Kjell, Bretton Woods Project
Emma Seery, Oxfam GB
Hannah Stoddart, Oxfam GB
Nuria Molina, Save the Children UK
Richard Harkinson, London Mining Network
Mike Lewis, ActionAid UK
Dan Jones, Results UK
Alessandra Masci, Amnesty International
Sanae Fujita, University of Essex, School of Law/Human Rights Centre


NGO points – need the safeguard review to cover all forms of WB lending; also need to look at the effectiveness of implementation; not just content but also IFC safeguard application, need to look at IEG recommendations in full; while the IFC review has incorporated some human rights language in the revised framework human rights commitment needs to be more thoroughly and coherently included in the safeguards; the “Guiding Principle on Business and Human Rights”, supported by the UK government reminds states that they cannot leave their HR obligations aside when they act multilaterally; as a minimum the WB should make sure effective human rights due diligence is carried out and potential adverse human rights impact is addressed; the WB needs better identification of risks under projects there are risks/dangers if obligations are delegated to recipient countries/corporations in terms of getting uniform application (the Bank cannot rely on NGOs to do due diligence for them); FPIC needs to be incorporated into the safeguards for all communities, need better transparency of projects (especially through financial intermediaries) and better categorisation

Gwen Hines responses:

  • We need to maintain quality of safeguards and make them work effectively, we will follow up on the ability of the review to look into effectiveness of past implementation
  • Approach paper was supposed to be sufficiently broad
  • There is a range of views at the board, this is not about diluting the standards, this is not a race to the bottom, this is about how do you adequately protect communities with the need to do development
  • Development is tough, you have to do resettlement given the realities; it is about what people want; it takes too long to get from concept to approval to implementation – are there things we can do smarter better quicker?
  • Staff say 70% of time on safeguards and 30% on results – this is wrong on principle; adding safeguards is not the way to go, staff needs to be able to keep them in their heads; rules need to be smart and sufficiently clear to get them applied
  • If the end result were to add another 20 safeguards or 1000 pages of regulation that would be the wrong result
  • Inconsistency is an issue, but think about country systems debate, there should be minimum standards but not exactly the same approach in each country
  • Feed us concerns during the project in the pipeline stage, that helps us, need specifics about the quality of environmental and social impact appraisal where they are falling down; we (the board) have taken up consultation problems with the country teams – ie Burma; we need concrete examples of problems and other ideas/alternatives
  • You need the staff to understand the parameters within which they must operate; separate out the rules, best practices, and value judgements – need staff to understand
  • UK government is very open minded, we don’t have an objective yet; new minister is taking advice on the human rights approach

IFID – we don’t dilution of outcomes and impact, not of language; need to have strong focus on capacity for implementation; there are strong view on the scope of the review on just IL or not – this was the way to get the consultation going; in the end we will look at how it fits together with other things.

Follow up NGO concerns on Oyu Tolgoi – resettlement and land acquisition prior to ESIA, ESIA is incomplete and retroactive rather than looking at operational aspects; ED seminar in Washington we hope you can put some resources on this, problems with FPIC application whether it is ‘consent’ or ‘broad community support’; we also can’t get any of the consultants reports and information (like management contract); we need an independent panel to look into the ESIAs; also worries about the tax treatment of the project.

Gwen Hines response – we will talk to NZ ED about this, are you supportive of the project going ahead? Probably the Govt of Mongolia wants to do it anyway, the WB can’t stop them – so the issue is how do we make it better, or should we just walk away from it? We can follow up on whether the Bank fully understands the investment contract; and whether the due diligence has been done to sufficient quality.

IFID – it’s a difficult call, but we know the Bank does have a role to play and the project can be improved.


NGO points –  great opportunity of Universal Health Coverage, needs pro-active approach to eliminating user fees, and promotion of publicly financed and publicly regulated healthcare systems; examples of Ghana and Rwanda health insurance scheme; main resources of the Bank should be focussed on the end goal which is publicly financed health

Gwen Hines response:

  • on health user fees UK hasn’t had a new policy that I am aware of, UHC is critical but eliminating user fees overnight can be really bad and you need a lot of planning, need investment and infrastructure to get in place before changes, you must look at the equity impact of tax finance for health of course
  • we need bring the research together at the Bank – systemic studies at global level and carefully study country research and then choose on basic services vs. non-communicable diseases; in context of limited resources – countries need to choose what to cover.
  • End result should be UHC, may not need to be free for everyone. Kim will be looking at this, he is focussed less on individual project design and more on evidence base and programme updating in the middle of programmes.

IFID – on user fees we generally say remove them if in doubt

NGO follow-up – we asked for an update of the economic analysis of the cost of TB in mines in Southern Africa, and support to SADC

Gwen Hines response – Kim is talking to WHO and Global Fund to ensure we are not duplicating, we will check on the specific questions

Kim’s Strategy

NGO points – welcome talk about inequality, worry about focus on inequality as only a way to get to absolute poverty, think about taking this down to Bank staff and their incentives and especially at the IFC
Gwen Hines response:

  • we are talking about inequality at every board meeting, also in post-2015 discussions and everywhere;
  • we are also looking at this from PFM point of view, BOOST – transparency of public spending data;
  • the meaning of “shared global prosperity” is still being debated both on inequality and inter-generational issues; board retreat this week to help define the agenda; everything should come together by Spring meetings I hope
  • we are good at inequality of income, but less good at inequality at access to services – ie beyond gender, need geographic and distributional information;
  • We need better data yes, but need to get “good enough” data cheaply;
  • these are standard points we making at the board (inequality, gender, synergies) – so should get down to the staff level;
  • by Spring meetings we want to see a road map for the Bank covering all the bottom line things.
  • WDR on jobs – we want to hear what to do next – key questions is what happens next; next WDR on risk might also be interesting (Basu may be taking a household/community level)

IFID – in IDA discussions there are conversations on shared prosperity, but we have debates about how to get there.

Doing Business

NGO points – review welcomed but we would like some engagement here in UK, Paying Taxes Indicator is problem

Gwen Hines response – don’t take the fact that we have a review for granted, it would be good to have a discussion at this end; we need more focus on making sure countries have effective tax systems and elites pay

Climate change

NGO points – Bank signals on climate change are nice but there needs to be actions like energy strategy and cuts to fossil fuel funding, how will UK engage on this?

Gwen Hines response – very important for Jim Kim, international opinions are shifting finally compared to even 18 months ago, so now this is easier for the Bank to start talking about; we are examining what the World Bank should be doing on climate change now; the balance between adaptation and mitigation also being looked at; portfolio review shows up areas where we are not doing well. Energy debate and access to energy will come back within country strategies, but I don’t know how it will come back at the policy level.