Civil society meeting with Stewart James, UK Alternate Executive Director to the World Bank

15 July 2013

16 September 2013 | Minutes

Official-side attendees

  • Stewart James, UK Alternate Executive Director, World Bank
  • Paul Healey, Head of World Bank team, DFID
  • Helena Almeida, World Bank team, DFID

NGO Attendees:

  • Christina Chang, CAFOD
  • Emma Seery, Oxfam GB
  • Peter Chowla, Bretton Woods Project
  • Lis Wallace, Progressio
  • Kate Dooley, Save the Children
  • Steve Lewis, RESULTS
  • Alison Doig, Christian Aid

Proposed Agenda:

  • World Bank strategy
  • Doing Business reform & Benchmarking Business in Agriculture
  • Energy lending and energy directions paper
  • IDA 17

World Bank Strategy

NGO points: pleased to goal on ending poverty and pleased to see narrative on inequality, but dissatisfied on the target. Gini measure is in the mix – we are encouraged by this. We had overview from strategy team, where is the substance of a strategy, looks more like change management? Implications for the way Bank does business? This is very quick – what are the processes for input?

Stewart James’ response:

  • Mixed opinion on this –  it is by nature a bureaucratic exercise, but also a huge opportunity to do things differently; hard to see how it will shake out and what the leverage points are
  • You can’t bring the whole thing out at once – there needs to be chance for you to feed into the Bank. What did you dislike in the presentation?

NGO response: measuring inequality, safeguards harmonisation, leveraging IDA,  private sector role in IDA, role of the private sector vis-à-vis the role of the state

Stewart James:

  • Need to understand what is driving poverty, given global changes and expectation of global and country growth; Questions about the role of the Bank in middle-income countries. Following the logic – WB should do less in some countries and more in others where poverty is worse
  • Not clear yet that we have line of sight and follow-through from poverty goals to what projects the WB does
  • Ready to test the appetite for this in the bank
  • Link between the goals and the Bank’s products – CAS, etc.; The documents don’t at present look different from what they were beforehand. Some narrative changes but projects as usual. Need to think about this work has an impact in the organisation
  • This 40% inequality is  not perfect – not bad to be tracking and measuring this, implicit understanding that this is about inequality; the concept is a little bit too loose
  • Some shareholders say you are here to serve the client – WB should listen and respond to country authorities’ requests; country directors like flexibility that selectivity provides; the point of the strategy is to make corporate sector decisions – to take flexibility away from client and country director’s team. This might mean more knowledge and less money for some countries; but also means focussing on things that help growth and be clear on burden sharing with other donors. We are in everything everywhere
  • We don’t know how this selectivity discussion will work out.  Still very much based on processes – once you get processes set up, with goals and indicators, you can feedback through the budget and adjust. The biggest change will be the budget and staffing levels
  • Discussions will happen about sector priorities; we will not get out of certain sectors overall; we will get out of certain sectors at the country level if we don’t have added value; difficult to say at macro-level that we won’t do some things – depends on country and donor interest – creating systems at the global level to make these choices. If at country level things look the same in a few years – then we have failed

DFID: if we are re-engineering need to think about role of evidence; translating evidence into system for policy choices needs to be done better; SMEs are an interesting case; 40% target forces you to look at jobs, but also will force you to compare performance to some benchmark, such as the average income growth

Stewart James: we aren’t clear about the annual meetings agenda yet, but it seems clear the strategy will be a discussion about systems, which is a discussion about how we make choices.

Doing Business & DB Agriculture Agenda

NGO points – we didn’t really get a full civil society consultation on Doing Business. JYK pre-empted the panel on rankings issue. What happens next? What is the UK analysis of the report?

Stewart James response:

  • This government remains committed to Doing Business as a concept, it is really useful to get countries to look hard at the regimes in place and whether they encourage investment to come in and local businesses
  • We are keen on using it as a tool for us as well – it works in developed countries too
  • We are totally open to methodological improvements – Kaushik Basu has been given a role to look at this in a fundamental way, UK says make it as good and relevant as possible
  • On presentation/rankings issues – we have enthusiasm for rankings amongst most shareholders – but a question about what you rank and the degree of aggregation
  • Absolute rankings make a problem sometimes, the strong reformers should be promoted more; needs to be less stigma and as useful as possible
  • Decisions: this year’s DB will be same as past; next year’s not set. No process of consultation mapped out – but it will be for Kaushik Basu to work out. Move it from FPD to DEC, take some fo the team and work on the data and robustness.

Doing Business in Agriculture points – we want consultation; worried about water indicators concerns on substance overall; needs to more public about this; also be careful of methodological problems highlighted by DB review plan


  • Contact Juergen Voegele – head of agriculture in SPD; he can sort out
  • Write to them and copy us so we can follow-up


NGO points – how does turn down the heat get translated into vision and strategy? You have to stop doing some things too; is it that IFC will not do coal again? Loophole on IDA, and Kosovo – we know there are alternatives available for Kosovo; Can DFID apply its criteria for fossil fuel investment?; While gas is better than coal it isn’t low-carbon enough for the future – this is not the right vision; question about the poverty impacts – especially as it is export oriented or industry-focussed; So we need a culture change on energy poverty and energy access; large hydro worries as well – especially whether this is going to have poverty impacts; need to think decentralised level; process going forward? And how safeguards will be applied effectively?

Stewart James:

  • Don’t look for your climate strategy here – sustainable energy/energy targets and metrics are being fought for under the main goals in the vision/targets for the Bank overall
  • The paper comes from a SE4ALL and access point of view; we do realise the energy poverty question
  • The document is being negotiated in terms of the detail right now but would not be expected to alter the Bank’s portfolio at this stage
  • The Bank will do more large hydro; But some project s will always remain difficult –  many people for example think Inga will never happen
  • It is right that we focus on energy supply for the poorest countries, and we can try to make that as clean and sustainable as possible
  • Please write to us with your thoughts
  • After this week this will be the approach, there won’t be any formal vote or discussion

IDA 17

NGO points: update from Managua; NGOs have interest in lots of sectors; on nutrition there is a need for more specific indicators on under nutrition this can help with inequality, and gender equality; IDA will show how the new WB strategy plays out

Stewart James response:

  • On climate indicators – it was all process, not outcome – extremely weak so far; need think about the appropriate metrics

DFID response:

  • Process – Managua had a first draft of a results matrix, it was a draft, without implications of the strategy
  • Now is the time to input and fill in the matrix; there were place markers, they weren’t nailed down; for example G8 commitments on nutrition
  • We are really interested in the Tier 2 more than Tier 1 indicators; we are nervous about input targets in IDA
  • We want the indicators linked to the strategy and to the evidence
  • Think of history on HIV/AIDS spend to realise why need to be careful of input targets
  • Broad agreement with the financing framework, but no decision on numbers

NGO follow-ups – inequality at Tier 2 level and disaggregated? You can monitor to provide an evidence base; this will be useful for post-2015; UHC in IDA?; climate finance in IDA?

DFID response:

  • we had a discussion, there is a placeholder now; need to have targets for both 3% and 40%
  • definitely on the gender side will disaggregate, but unlikely on the income quintiles because we aren’t set up to do this on the monitoring system;
  • think of the timing issues; we are measuring outcomes for past projects not IDA17 projects and their money, IDA17RMS will not measure IDA17 money – can shift the goalposts
  • There will be more Tier 2 indicators this time; there is a presentation issue on the income quintiles; we need yearly rather than 3 year rolling average
  • UHC – no specific discussions or mention in the IDA papers; we’ve asked the Bank to include “game changing sectors” in a revision in light of the WB strategy – the revision may include this; the chief economist and his team have been doing most of the work on how strategy to work – so he will likely provide
  • Employment will jump out as a likely next stage
  • On climate finance – interesting discussion; not clear from the papers and read out; issue is that IDA makes investments and they need to be made climate proof – how do you pay for the extra costs related to this? Is that a sensible way for using IDA money? Not a shift to mitigation for example. Needs an additional effort and push or building resilience? And links to disaster preparedness; Outcome – strong support for focussing on “co-benefits” ie poverty and climate joint impacts – recognition of extra costs and many deputies thought this should not have an extra pot; in cases where the costs are extra elevated – they have asked the Bank to go back and rethink and propose in the next round
  • In some donor countries the pot of aid and climate finance is the same