In February, the World Bank Group (WBG) launched a consultation on its new citizen engagement strategy. The development of the strategy follows the October 2013 launch of the Bank Group’s new strategy (see Observer Winter 2014), which promised to “strengthen its ability to work on multi-stakeholder solutions”, including the need to “revamp the client engagement model into a more problem-driven solutions approach, systematically bringing together multiple disciplines, stakeholders, and WBG agencies.”
The objectives of the citizen engagement strategy are to “mainstream a coherent approach to citizen engagement in WBG-supported policy dialogues, programmes, projects and knowledge work to improve their development results” and “contribute to building sustainable national mechanisms for citizen engagement with governments and the private sector”, adopting a “context-specific approach”. It will “build on experience from existing citizen engagement efforts in areas such as service delivery, public financial management, environmental protection and natural resource management, governance, and social inclusion.” Furthermore, it will “build on entry points for citizen engagement from existing WBG policies”, referencing the safeguards consultations (see Observer Winter 2014) and grievance redress mechanisms (see Bulletin Feb 2014), however, it is unclear how it will work with these.
Concerns raised in a mid February consultation meeting in the UK included questions on engagement of formal versus informal institutions, how to avoid repercussions for citizens in authoritarian regimes, and the need for upstream rather than downstream consultation, including asking the right questions at the right time. In addition to further consultations in the US, an online consultation is open until 12 April. The Bank is also setting up an advisory council “to accompany the development and implementation of the strategy”, open for nominations until 5 March. The new strategy is expected to be rolled out in 2015.