IFI governance


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

4 October 2013 | Minutes

17 September 2013


World Bank:
Gwen Hines, UK World Bank Executive Director

UK government:
Paul Healey, International Financial Institutions Department, DFID

Helena Almeida, World Bank team, DFID

Claire Roberts, HM Treasury (future Alternate Executive Director to the World Bank)

Peter Chowla, Bretton Woods Project

Petra Kjell, Bretton Woods Project

Dario Kenner, Bretton Woods Project

Alison Marshall, International Planned Parenthood Federation

Kate Geary, Oxfam GB

Alessandra Masci, Amnesty International

Steve Lewis, Results UK

Helen Tugendhat, Forest Peoples Programme

Proposed agenda

  1. World Bank strategy
  2. IDA17
  3. Safeguards


1.     World Bank strategy

NGO points:

  • Consultation process has been disappointing so far. Civil society has a wealth of knowledge. The process has seen documents presented with little space or time for civil society input. This is information sharing rather than consultation.

Gwen Hines’s response:

  • The strategy document has not been finalised yet. It will be changed slightly before the annual meetings where it will be endorsed by governments.
  • It is an overarching plan that does not mention specific sectors such as health and education. It is being done as an iterative process to establish a framework that guides the Bank towards its goals.
  • I do not think there will be a formal consultation on the entire document. The Bank is using views taken in from previous meetings in Europe. Send comments but it’s an on-going process, which should be viewed as iterative. I will feedback that it feels more like information sharing rather than consultation.
  • Global practices review is on-going: This is Kim’s way of reviewing the matrix structure based on sectors and countries. The idea is to break this down and focus on issues (e.g. education and getting kids to school but also dealing with e.g. sanitation).
  • There will be an implementation plan after the annual meetings, the process on that is not set yet.
  • The UK has been pushing the need for a clear results framework, we like the model that is being set up around country partnerships. The challenge is then it makes it difficult to have a corporate level results framework because it is bottom up from each country. Between now and 2030 there are particular things we will track from top-down and bottom-up.

NGO response:

  • It is important to clarify what we mean by bottom-up. We do not define country government participation as bottom-up. We would like clarity on how civil society will participate in strategy design.

Gwen Hines’s response:

  • This is a change in approach across the entire Bank Group from a deal by deal system to a more strategic approach. We think the Bank needs to prioritise more, particularly in smaller countries. We need more rigorous analysis. We are looking into a peer review mechanism to ensure an objective analysis.
  • On the discussion of country ownership there is a tension between a sovereign government that receives a loan and what we have as development priorities. The idea that country authorities dictate policy is also wrong. There are some parliamentarians in some developing countries who don’t care about the poor. The strategy is trying to be grounded in the local political economy.
  • One of the challenges is to write something that is acceptable to all WB country governors, to DFID and to the recipient country. There are questions about how you bring in civil society.


  • This new strategy builds on Wolfensohn’s work to bring in PRSPs and is still a work in progress. We recognise that a participatory process to diagnose what is needed in a country is not the same as developing a country plan. We are looking for more participation and transparency on what decisions are made when. We are keen to hear from you on this and to see examples. Some people are worried that if they make their choices explicit they can be judged. This shows it is important to do it.

NGO response:

  • We would like more information on the Partners in Development approach which we have concerns about. This is a pretty fundamental change about how the IFC does business. There are no public documents on this. We want to know at what stage information will be provided in relation to performance standards and safeguards. If information is not provided before a project is implemented it could mean there is no due diligence. The Board and civil society need to be able to comment before a negative project impact e.g. displaced people. The concern is how will failures be addressed? It will be too late afterwards. We already have real examples on this.

Gwen Hines’s response:

  • The Partners in Development Approach has not been finalised, we had only a short board briefing. The idea is to recognise when you have good partners and to maximise this. It is important to get your concerns.
  • We have already given the IFC a hard time on additionality and on repeat projects. We want to see working with big players can have a bigger impact. I believe it can. The bar is set higher if you work with big organisations.
  • Let’s put down a marker that this is something you want to track in detail. Send me your worst case examples. Expect the board to ask for a mechanism to be put in place to track projects and due diligence.

2.     IDA17

NGO points on inequality:

  • Great that the Bank is recognising inequality is part of reducing poverty. This is not just about income but also human well-being e.g. access to education and health. We would like to see concrete information on how the Bank will reduce inequality e.g. on tax and redistribution. What will be done to grow the bottom 40% faster than the rest? We are concerned about PPPs.
  • IDA countries will be the real test of the strategy. The Bank needs to report on indicators related to poverty and inequality every year, particularly the poorest 20. We would like to request a meeting with the IDA deputy Shaila Khan.

NGO points on gender:

  • More ambition is needed on the gender theme which is also crucial for the inequality theme. Gender disaggregated data is needed. This should also be by age. Projects should be rated on completion of their gender results (on at least 2 out of 3 criteria). Reproductive health should be prioritised.
  • We think adolescent fertility rates should be taken out of the Results Measurement System i.e. not continued from IDA16, because it is not a rights based indicator. We suggest indicators should be aligned with the Health indicators in the Reproductive Health Action Plan e.g. contraceptive prevalence rate. This should be contextualised with unmet need which needs to be measured as part of IDA17 too.

NGO points on nutrition:

  • Is there a timetable on when the UK will finalise its pledge on nutrition? What progress can be made for example writing indicators on nutrition into IDA17? We think that stunting is a good indicator of poverty.

Gwen Hines’s response:

  • Next IDA meeting in October after the Annual Meetings, the final meeting with pledges will be in Russia in December. A meeting with the IDA deputy can be arranged
  • It’s a new development for the Bank to talk about inequality. It is complicated to track e.g. Gini coefficient. In countries that have 70% of people below a dollar a day it’s much harder to track inequality. The Global Monitoring report will probably be used. There will be a number of seminars on this at the Annual Meetings about the thinking on indicators.
  • It’s interesting to think about the impact of the bottom 40% target on upper low-income countries and middle-income countries, look at the number of people between $2 and $4 a day in the chart in the strategy
  • On gender, we want stronger integration in IDA. We are trying to make sure something on gender and contraceptive prevalence rate gets into indicators. But it can be very hard to talk about this issue as it is controversial.
  • Unmet contraceptive needs is a good area to focus on. There is a strong link between population rates and reducing poverty. If there are contraceptives out there women will use them. Kim understands the issue and is trying to decide what the Bank’s role is. We need civil society to talk about unmet need more on this around the world. The gender plan got a rough ride last week.
  • Stunting is a problem across high and low income groups. A lot of issues about nutrition are cultural.


  • We are closely following the debate on inequality indicators, including the Palma index. There are issues around data collection. We only have income data for a third of countries.
  • There is an interesting debate happening on tax. How prescriptive should we be on shared prosperity and inequality? We know there are many country specific issues e.g. oil based economy. There are many routes to get to shared prosperity.
  • We completely support what you say on gender and on reproductive health indicators but we can’t push everything. We must prioritise indicators. There have already been heated discussions about unmet need and contraceptive prevalence, these were very heated between IDA deputies. Some countries said these proposals were not culturally acceptable.

3.     Safeguards

NGO points:

  • Can you update us on the Bank’s work on human rights? There has been criticism of several of the UN’s Special Procedures (SR on extreme poverty, water, housing, food, foreign debt and indigenous peoples) and of the World Bank’s lack of recognition of its human rights responsibilities.
  • What is the position of the UK on human rights? At our last meeting with the WB ED it was mentioned that a position was being developed. We have contacted the FCO but they did not know anything.
  • Will implementation requirements be formally included in safeguard policies or will there be a range of instruments?
  • Is there a UK position on the right of indigenous peoples to free, prior and informed consent being a formal requirement to be taken up by the Bank?
  • Will there be coherence between safeguards and voluntary guidelines on land?
  • Concerns around the performance standards approach where risk management is on a different level.
  • Will the UK back the US position on scope of the review?

Gwen Hines’s response:

  • Our position is we are not working on the scope. The US has not pushed hard on this at the board and their position has not been clearly asking for a broader scope of the review
  • There is a public presentation on safeguards which recognises that implementation is key.
  • We are not doing risk avoidance. We are doing risk management.


  • We are seeing if there is a human rights link between World Bank safeguards and DFID’s partnership principles, but the principles are being revised.
  • We have no final position on human rights yet. We can organise another meeting on safeguards.