Sponsor: World Bank Group
Chairs: Merza Hasan (WB Executive Director, MENA Constituency), Danny Sriskandarajah (Secretary General, CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation)
- Updated on requested pending issues from Spring meetings.
- The meeting has been restructured to allow for better discussions
- New ED sites are up with extensive information. Some delay in roll out due to IT issues.
- Bank knows that it has made progress, etc a long way to go.
- Country diagnostics – a key new component meant to provide comprehensive contextual information for a better plan and impact.A recurrent theme in the discussions highlighted by all EDs is that there are very divergent opinions within the Board and procurement and safeguard discussions have been very difficult.
- On citizen engagement, the Bank considers that it has achieved 35% (I don’t understand this metric…) of beneficiary feedback. It aims for 100%.
- Tier 3 scorecard will measure engagement. The Bank will focus on capacity development in this ‘important’ area.
- Focus on CS engagement. Very grateful that issue is now on the agenda as not always the case.
- WB has done rather well on Civicus’ report on IO engagement with CS.
Themes as agreed by CS prior to roundtable:
Current draft constitutes a dilution, lacks human rights language in accordance with international standards and lacks important environmental safeguards. This despite the Bank’s Turning Up the Heat report on climate change.
Critique of consultation process, which has been limited to 5 star hotels and has focused on urban elite to the detriment of other important voices.
Also important gaps as it does not apply to policy lending. Given that other institutions look to the Bank for standards, the dilution will encourage a race to the bottom, including by governments.
Urged WB to seek emulate the strong country models available.
NGO Forum – focusing on ADB
Underscored that ADB has actually moved broadly in the right direction and urged the Bank to use the ADB safeguards framework as a point of departure.
Housing and Land Rights Network (Egypt)
WB empowers governments rather than the people, particularly in countries with weak or non-existent democratic guarantees, as in Middle East and North Africa.
Understands that the Bank is not a Human Rights organisation, however pleaded that the Bank at least adopt internationally accepted HR language: eg, reparations vs. compensation or forced eviction vs. involuntary resettlement. The Bank’s adoption of universally accepted language would provide some purchase for CSOs in difficult situations.
ED Satu Santala (Finland)
The SG remains very much in consultation process, of which the roundtable is part. This is a first draft.
Thought the concerns about lack of consultation unfair. The Bank has made a genuine effort. However internal discussions were difficult and impacted by leaked document.
Stressed (as did all EDs throughout) that there are a variety of voices within the board and that discussions are difficult. Bank is not homogenous bunch of bureaucrats but represents interests and views of shareholders.
New SG focus on substance and, crucially, implementability. The Bank hears concerns about dilution, but must focus on extent to which policies can be implemented on the ground.
UK ED Gwen Hines
The process has been very consultative, the UK ED has had multiple exchanges with UK CS. Now is the moment to comment on the document and raise concerns. Regarding urban bias, WB staff also have substantial development experience which also informs the process. No point in having perfect rules if impossible to implement.
Progress has been made – eg, focus on discrimination. New SG is a very good step in clarifying roles and responsibilities of the Bank and borrower. Also much progress has been made on climate change – must look beyond the SG and look at other Bank activities in this area.
Kuwait ED (Merza Hasan) Co-chair:
There are important definitional issues around the safeguards, which are hotly debated by shareholders.
Asked what happened to Kim’s spring meeting promises regarding SOGIE. Also requested clarification on why the Bank does not adhere to language/ guarantees.
A question was also raised about when one could expect a non-American Bank president, after 12 straight (ie, sexual orientation issue) Americans.
US ED (Sara Aviel)
Kim’s appointment was done on basis of a transparent meritocratic process. The Board votes for the president. One must also look at the Bank from a global IO context where other countries/ regions dominate representation.
US has very strong views on non-discrimination and has voiced opinions on poverty as exclusion.
2. Theme – Citizen engagement:
Kuwait ED (Hasan)
Engagement must be included in the country diagnostic process.
Does not see country represented in the Bank or IMF boards.
Requested information on the Global Pact for Social Accountability – how is impact assessed?
BRICS bank issue raised – request for Bank’s position. Also concerns raised about Bank’s response to corruption challenges.
More practical and specific projects for women were requested.
Congo CSO – Highlighted lack of youth involvement. Stressed need for education and skills and proposed a ‘youth portfolio’ be created.
Swiss ED (Jorg Frieden)
Membership is universal. Strong have strong values and do what is possible in difficult environments. CSOs have to trust the values and intentions of Bank staff, otherwise discussions are impossible.
Must move beyond ‘do no harm’ and must focus on ‘do positive whenever possible’.
Country diagnostics will be the ‘interesting’ – countries are very concerned about questions of sovereignty. The tool will be particularly useful in fragile states to identify risks.
In the final analysis much depends on the courage of the Country Director to engage and find space. However there will always be a cost-benefit analysis regarding engagement and the negative consequences of antagonising governments.
NL ED (Frank Heemskerk)
SGs are an improvement. There is great flexibility which allows Bank to better hold borrowers to account. Previously borrowers would use omission in documents to avoid compliance. The focus will be on implementation.
Regarding the BRICS: there is no competition between the Bank and New Development Bank (NDB). The infrastructure needs are substantial and greater financing is welcomed. Bank very happy to provide technical expertise and ‘best practices’ to the NDB.
China ED (Shixin Chen)
As a shareholder and a client, China feels that there is no trade off in new safeguards. Focus must be maintained on implementability.
BRICS – will add value, not only on infrastructure but also due to its impact on overall expansion of global capacity. The WB must learn lessons from the past.
Germany ED (Ursula Muller)
Agreed that youth are crucial and more must be done.
Kuwait ED (Merza Hasan)
Gender will be mainstreamed and will be tracked on scorecard. Director for Gender will ensure that gender issues are cross-cutting.
Highlighted tensions between support for development and political reform, given that Bank may loose business and influence if it antagonises governments.
Asked about the relationship between the Bank and UN system. In Egypt it is understood that the Bank is part of the UN system and therefore should follow UNHR standards.
E.g. in Egypt indigenous people are not recognised and therefore clauses aimed at their protection do not apply.
Bank imposes modalities of consultation, the Bank itself must be held to account.
How does the Bank’s new anti-corruption initiative interact/ link with ongoing UN efforts and existing mechanisms? Was a new mechanisms really necessary?
How does the Bank deal with very corrupt governments and governments where CSO engagement is impossible?
Eg, Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC)
When the Bank demand structural reforms, how much trust can be placed on very corrupt governments?
The Bank seems to provide significant support to corrupt regimes to then receive substantial resources to fight corruption. To what extent is the Financial System driving the development agenda…
Kuwait ED (Merza Hasan)
There are difficult questions of sovereignty that surrounds the discussion on corruption. There also significant costs to disengagement, ie, one could in the end punish the poorest that may go without support.
Noted that Finland finds the Alternative Approach (IP ‘Opt Out’) problematic.
Corruption exists everywhere – impossible to proceed on the basis of disengagement. Same applies to Human Rights issues.
SOEs are not all bad and play a key role in economies.
Philippines ED (Roberto Tan)
First ED from developing world to speak – represents LAC.
SGs are a work in progress. There are many viewpoints within the Board.
Bank is focused on twin goals and they are the point of departure for its activities and frame the SG reform. Poverty is the worst instance of HR abuse.
IFC (not quite sure about attribution here/ it was not the Philippines) – The board has discussed the issue of IFC investments and there is agreement that their development impact must be assessed.
The Board demands that IFC takes seats on the boards of firms in which it invests so that it can have an impact on decisions and ensure development outcomes.
CSO concerns have been key in bringing about change – eg, new focus on corruption.
The Bank no longer assumes that a lifting tide lifts all boats. US does not think that SG can be left to trust. All organisations need strong rules and regulations.
The Country Diagnostic is supposed to provide an objective evaluation of risks, etc.