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Is the World Bank serious about engaging CSOs and communities

The experience of the HNP CSO consultative group

12 October 2013 | Minutes

IMF/WB Civil Society Forum

10 October 2013

Sponsor: Health Nutrition Population Civil Society Consultative Group

Panelists: Carolyn Reynolds (Communications adviser, WBG), Mette Kinoti (Head of programme management, African Medical and Research Foundation / AMREF),  Knud Voecking (Urgewald), Mohga Kamal-Yanni (Oxfam’s Senior health & HIV policy adviser)

The Bank’s HNP division established a Civil Society Consultative Group in 2011, made up of a group of NGO representatives. Face-to-face meetings alongside the Annual and Spring Meetings are supplemented by web or teleconference meetings in between. This session will look at the experiment and how the group is developing as well as more broad questions about the way that civil society is represented in the Bank’s thinking and activities.

Presentations

Carolyn Reynolds, WB

  • Why we set up the group from the WB’s perspective
  • Set up three years ago, a year to get the process underway, with Graham Miller then MD and CSOs
  • Wide gap in understanding of the WB work in health
  • New strategy on health just getting up to speed – strengthening health systems focus, working in new ways, including with civil society
  • Lots of critique towards WB on health work
  • Objectives of the group set collaboratively w civil society – facilitate informed discussions, CSOs views are shared with management, exchanging feedback on lessons learned, identify and facilities opportunities in countries where we work
  • Seven CSO representatives, and three by the Bank – so very much led by civil society
  • Wanted a home grown process, building on lessons learned, but not formulaic
  • Diverse deliberately, not too forced, to get best perspectives around the table
  • 2 ½ years later, second call for nominations
  • It has been an experiment, but a very positive one from our view, and a learning experience from all sides
  • Discussions have been frank, open discussions
  • Have been learning how to work better together, how to discuss global policy issues and connect with country level
  • It’s been clear it’s a time commitment – different groups have been able to give different time
  • Committed and resourced for this
  • Hope this group and the experience from the group could be shared across the Bank, and taken into other sectors – in line with the pillars of the new strategy

Mette Kinoti

  • Health organisation, working with CSOs and government, research institutions and donors like WB – including on policy level
  • Kenya specific case, but happens in many countries with organisations working on HIV/AIDS – allocation to CSOs, in particular smaller community organisations and NGOs
  • Financial support to CSOs, moving money measured by whether money was spent and accounted for, attempt to also measure if CSOs contribute to the implementation of the national strategy
  • You also need to ensure to build up capacity of civil society
  • A lot of resistance, WB said you CSOs are all about workshops etc – things are working well the way they are
  • There was a WB staff that started listening, maybe we should go to the field, so he went with government staff who were equally resistant
  • They could see that there were better results from the organisations that had been trained. After negotiation decision to stop just moving money, but include capacity building. Became a condition of WB funded organisations to be part of capacity building programme
  • Today, national AIDS control council has taken over the model
  • This is a success story, it took long, lots of frustration, but in the end it worked
  • Part of the reason was that we convinced a staff member of the WB.
  • This is good, it ended well, but very much dependent on an individual – how to change it to be more part of the system. From a country perspective, instead of having programme design by government and WB, civil society should be engaged from the beginning
  • Any programme about improving health, get the civil society engaged from the beginning when the programme is being designed
  • For the WB to have higher focus and integrate a community strengthening component, they partner with the government, if health is going to improve it must start at the community level
  • If implemented would have a more systematic approach

Mohga Kamal-Yanni

  • Working on global fund, GAVI to some extent
  • Organisational nature of the WB, its mandate is huge
  • Other organisations are multilateral, partnerships – not only the global fund is a creation of civil society
  • From the beginning with the set up of the Global Fund, it included NGOs, we were able to influence the governance structure from the beginning
  • GAVI slightly different, secretariat started it
  • Starting point is different, so governance is different, because of this the way of working is different
  • With GAVI has access to all the documents that come to the board, negotiation and discuss with the board and technical committees – direct access to documents and direct points
  • Sometimes win, sometimes loose, but at least officially you have a vote
  • Totally different from the WB – not sure how to have this model within the Bank
  • The impacts are seen with these organisations
  • Every round is launched after demands by NGOs, you can see your impact, and on some of the policies negotiated – some what we wanted, some a compromise, but at least cut the damage of other things
  • See the influence of the decisions
  • Learned from civil society side, the most important is informed relationship – what is the issue about, learning about the topics and what it means
  • You learn, you consult, you come to an agreed position
  • A big challenge for this organisation and the group making the connection between global policy and what happens in the country, how does it work in the country – this linkage still need a lot of work
  • Other point of learning, with Global Fund we have access to all the documents, we make comments, we were heavily involved on the strategy with lots of consultation
  • With WB we need to have the access to WB policies, the key important things, not at the end but at the start of it.
  • Together as civil society and informed consultative civil society can make a huge difference

Knud Voecking

  • Completely different perspective, German NGO mainly working on environmental and social standards – advocacy NGO, not implementing, so from a different perspective
  • Not a Northern patronising NGO, we only work when there is a request from a Southern partner
  • At WB meetings since 2002, have attended a lot of consultative processes, sometimes suffered through them – EIR, performance standards, review of IFC performance standards, palm oil strategy, WB energy strategy, safeguards review, just to name a few
  • A variety of approaches and qualities, although the WB has a policy on consultations, the different arms are separate
  • The energy strategy consultations was bad, a lot of NGOs were invited to a consultation in Germany – WB gave power point presentation, showing two off grid solar projects as the way forward, then asked for views. We wanted to discuss, but they just wanted to listen. Second phase was online. Not inclusive, in particular for those far away
  • On EIR, the process itself was good, a great document came out of it, but WB management refused to implement it, since it included a recommendation to phase out coal. Due to CSO pressure a consultative group was set up, but it faded away
  • Palm oil strategy, civil society gave hell to IFC due to investment in Indonesian palm oil due to atrocities linked to palm oil plantations – Zoellick put a halt to all palm oil investments. First time experienced WB staff really interacting in working groups, also government, private sector, NGO groups, and then mixed. These are the kind of consultation that achieve something, everyone listen to each other, a level playing field.
  • Mostly the merit of the WB, not the IFC – they just wanted to kick the box, but WB wanted a good outcome
  • In the South, to attend a consultation there are difficulties for small NGOs, completely impossible – how do they know its happening, for some a language problem, accessibility, very dubious way of selecting attendees, this even happens in Germany
  • If you go to Cambodia and Laos, etc, repressive governments – dangerous to speak out, which needs to be taken into account
  • Its about getting WB staff into the field, can be tricky – many WB staff have no clue what is going on in the field
  • Agree with Mette’s points – these are valid for all projects, and the approach WB should be taking. You go to the people and talk to the people, have a long consultative process, otherwise you will end up in a lot of trouble

 

Q&A

Q

Why does the WB and IMF don’t have the capacity  to engage with CSOs in a more extensive way. In Libya the newly elected leaders are not engaging in a way that they are truly representative to the citizens. Why not have the WB and IMF invest in the institutions to make them better, build capacity, and be more representative to citizens.

Q

Online consultations, eg twitter, social media, is that the direction we need to go to hear more voices  – most organisations have some online access, can we build on this

Reynolds

  • On the Libya question, this would need a deeper conversation, Can’t speak on Libya but WB is doing a lot of work on good governance and institutions of good governance, building from governance strategy of 5 years.
  • Embedded in our work. Work with public sector institutions on transparency, information policy, public finance systems, etc.

WB representative

  • Work on social accountability, supports civil society and governments to work together, Tunisia and Morocco – voluntary, Global Partnership for Social Accountability (GPSA). One component for countries in transition to support capacity building
  • Also work in the regions, talking about Morocco and health, the Bank is exploring a national health charter with a consultative process, and how to improve transparency and accountability
  • Support national governance with civil society

Q

What mechanisms are you proposing in Morocco, as Libya is in a similar situation, how do you practice it on the ground, mechanism, etc

Marcos, WB

  • Colleagues working with governments, discussing principles including a code of conduct on consultations, before discussing mechanisms. Also national dialogue, to make inclusive
  • GPSA set up last year, first round of grantees, 12 organisations have been approved for funding. USD 0.5 – 1 million for social accountability issues
  • Second round to be launched in November, 32 countries now
  • Important not just the funding side, partners, a diverse range of organisations including Oxfam GB, CARE, also foundations e.g. Ford Foundation
  • Civil society is a key partner, not just funding, but providing knowledge

Kamal-Yanni

  • Always balance between what the WB can do and sovereignty, always a sensitive way of handling it. In Egypt two constitutions, now very wide consultation. WB can help sharing the experience.

Voecking

  • In defence of the management, you have big players on the board, WB staff do a lot to try to work around this, there are some committed people here
  • Not completely opposed to online consultation, but its not the way to consult – in favour of dialogue, especially face to face in informed dialogue, so you understand each other, this is not the case through twitter, etc  – you need all of it
  • A case where a dam was supposed to be built, people had one mobile phone and needed to climb a hill to receive signal

Q

What is the WB doing to consult better in repressive countries, eg Turkmenistan. Reprisals are seen in countries where people speak out against WB projects. How to improve the feedback loop of consultations, organisations participation in country partnership strategies, but don’t feel they are influencing.

John Garrison, civil society liaison, WB

  • Agree consultation is a work in progress, difficult with an institutions working in so many countries, and also differences internally, eg IFC
  • New report on consultation this week – one portal now for consultations – a lot of the results from the consolations will also be there.
  • The only thematic consultative group we have is on health, good methodology and structure, but have a different approach to the UN etc.

Nicole, WB

  • We started in the fall 2009, since we had so many partners in health, after writing the strategy. Countries and civil society called for their involvement. The dialogue was the most important, to clarify issues, etc.
  • Sometimes on an issue its easier to engage, e.g. on how to deliver health care. In some repressive countries we had the best engagement with civil society, but always on an issue, a good entry point to the discussion.

Reynolds

  • We do have to engage in governments, look different in different countries and evolve over time – we do care about human rights, citizens voice and connections to make sure views are reflected.
  • The principle is there, repressive countries are difficult, the WB can’t change a repressive government, society will. Can we help with this – this is a work in progress, what role to play

Marcos, WB

  • Open government partnership, will discuss with governments, we are concerned about this issue – we have to prioritise as well.

Kinoti

  • Global health partnership, meet every second year, encourage to come with civil society representation that represents network. Became bad practice not to have civil society there.
  • On country partnership strategies, you are invited, spend time – we should not just accept that consultation is about being in one meeting. Should help formulate how the process should be. Otherwise just for the government to be ignored.

Kamal-Yanni

  • Key thing for us to be informed, we get invited but don’t know the issue that well, so can’t force the government to change – identify clear issues, and lobby for them.

Simon Wright, Save the Children

  • For change to happen, people inside need to have dialogue and people outside put pressure. People inside need to ensure not to be too co-opted, we have started setting the agenda more, also need to communicate with the outsiders – ensure people know what we are doing.
  • Please communicate us and we’ll try to build a platform form broader communication.

 

 

 

 

 

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