IFI governance


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

3 October 2014

10 October 2014 | Minutes


World Bank (video link):

Gwen Hines, UK World Bank Executive Director

Clare Roberts, UK World Bank Alternate Executive Director

Phil Stevens, Advisor to the Executive Director

UK Government:

Steven Sabey, International Financial Institutions Department, DFID

Rachel Grant, International Financial Institutions Department, DFID

Angelique Botella, International Financial Institutions Department, DFID


Tim Wainwright, ADD International (by phone)

Helen Tugendhat, Forest Peoples Programme

Preethi Sundaram, IPPF

Steve Lewis, Results

Anushree Shiroor, Results

Bandula Kothalawala, TUC

Natasha Kennedy, Sightsavers

Alison Holder, Oxfam

Alessandra Masci, Amnesty International

Sarah Best, IIED

Chiara Capraro, Christian Aid

Florence Richard De Vesvrotte, ActionAid

Petra Kjell, Bretton Woods Project

Luiz Vieira, Bretton Woods Project


Annual meetings agenda

It was noted that the Development Committee meeting papers are not online. The ED said that she would look into the issue.

Shared prosperity/inequality


Oxfam offered to provide its recent paper on the subject for consideration of the UKED. Are pleased with the inclusion of inequality as topic of discussion and consideration by the WB and welcomed the inclusion of shared prosperity as one of the two twin objectives. Oxfam recognised the good work done on theme by Bank as reflected in its recent report.

Oxfam were also pleased that the report recognises that potential impact of government policies and that the amelioration of inequality is a political choice. Oxfam also welcome the recognition of the role of fiscal policy in addressing inequality. That said Oxfam voiced concerns about some of the report’s shortcomings:

–          The report provides a misleading impression of the global trends in inequality, as the progress in large countries skews the sample.

–          The report lacks sufficient focus on within-country inequality trends.

–          The report’s focus on the bottom 40% also disguises important trends. The Bank would be better served by focusing attention on the trends in wealth of the top 1%.

–          More clarity is required on the data used.

–          The report’s language on redistributive policies is disappointing as the report limits itself to stating that “redistributive policies may not be harmful.”

–          There are also gaps in the solutions provided. While the role of the private sector is indeed nuanced, there must be recognition that productivity growth in the private sector must translate into higher salaries. The role of public services also lacks due recognition in the report.

Gwen Hines

  • Inequality remains a topic of ongoing debate. Job growth remains important, as there is general agreement that “there is no growth without jobs”.
  • The Bank will continue to focus on the bottom 40%.  However, the UKED agreed that additional country-specific data remain important. There is some discussion of working to strengthen country-specific Gini coefficient, nutrition and other relevant data.
  • There is also the possibility in the future for increased attention to and analysis of country v. global data.
  • The UK is happy that the tax debate is now central to discussions.
  • The ED noted that the IMF has recently made some positive statements on the subject and that Lagarde has been supportive, something that would not have happened even five years ago.
  • It is expected that country-specific inequality issues will be better analysed during the development of country strategies.

Gender equity update

Gwen Hines

  • The gender equity paper is an update on the gender action plan, with a focus on impact
  • Caren Grown is the new gender lead
  • The ED stressed that the UK has been strongly advocating on gender issues and has been pushing for a focus on the impact of gender programming.
  • She highlighted the upcoming 2nd meeting of the community of practice, which will be co-chaired by the Finance Minister of Nigeria, a strong advocate of gender issues.  The WBG is also seeking to better coordinate with the Gender Advisory Council (which includes UN Women) and others in order to improve access to technical expertise and advice.
  • She also noted that the Global Monitoring Report, produced jointly with the IMF and OECD, provide an in-depth look into gender issues within the context of the twin goals and the MDGs.

Ebola update

Gwen Hines

  • The ED offered to provide a quick summary of the Bank’s work on the Ebola response.
  • She stressed that the Bank has been working closely with other relevant actors to ensure cross-agency coordination on the issue in order to avoid competition between agencies.
  • She noted that the Bank has focused on rapid and flexible support and hoped that civil society would take note of the Bank’s work in this regard. She also underscored the important role of the UK government in the response.


The ED noted that she will be in London the first week of November and is willing to have a meeting on safeguards with CSOs and the IFI team in DFID.


Forest People’s Programme presented a series of general, over-arching concerns about the current safeguards draft document:

–          Expressed concern that the proposed document relies heavily on staff judgement, as staff on the ground will be responsible for assessing and providing the justification for the application of broad language such as “where applicable”, etc. This concern is particularly relevant given the observations of previous IEG reports on the technical capacity of Bank staff.

–          It is feared that the new document as it stands may impact the role of the Inspection Panel, which may be left to assess whether the applications of safeguards are ‘necessary’ rather than focusing on whether breaches have taken place.

–          The emphasis on borrower system raises serious questions about the extent to which the adequacy of country systems will be judged prior to delegation of responsibility. This seems an erosion of OP 4.00, which requires that the Bank analyse the adequacy of borrower systems.

–          The proposed system lacks an assessment of the local level governance mechanisms.

–          Importantly, the process does not require public involvement in the assessment of local systems.

Amnesty also focused initially on broader framework concerns. Amnesty noted that the increased delegation of responsibility to borrowers did not adequately account for the possibility that the borrower may lack the willingness to apply and comply in good faith with the safeguards. A concern was also raised about the current draft’s human rights aspirational language. Current examples show that human rights violations take place also because of the lack of robust HR due diligence and weak implementation and monitoring mechanisms Amnesty will send a letter to the UK government outlining the human rights gaps in the draft policies.

The UK government has Human Right’s obligations when acting multilaterally through the Bank, therefore we would expect the UK to have a leadership role to ensure respect for human rights within the safeguards Amnesty inquired about the DFID/ UK government’s position on the issues raised and asked for this position to be made public, following examples from other Member States for example the US.

Relating to the discussion about delegation of authority to borrowers, BWP asked for the ED’s opinion on its application by the IFC and whether she thought that the IFC’s experiences were relevant and could provide any lessons for the discussions about the current draft.

Gwen Hines

  • The ED stressed that the safeguards consultation remains very much open and is an ongoing process. The draft was sent out for consultation on request from EDs since it had been leaked, even though it had not been endorsed by CODE,.
  • The UK has noted that more work is required on the draft document. The current version is not the final version, she stressed.
  • She noted improvements, human rights language is in the over-arching statement
  • President Jim Yong Kim has been pushing for a focus on non-discrimination.
  • The UK believes that a broad and comprehensive anti-discrimination approach will be more effective than multiple safeguards for gender, LGBT and disability, etc.
  • Regarding concerns about the reforms and delegation, lack of sufficient up-front analysis, the ED mentioned that the current reforms were aimed at addressing what many thought had been a propensity at overly detailed preliminary documents that led to a ‘box-ticking’ tendency. The current system lacks needed adaptability and flexibility. Reforms would free up resources for implementation
  • She noted that the need for and reliance on staff judgement is unavoidable, it is a matter of practice. A legalistic approach may be comforting but is misleading.
  • The ED stressed that the changes proposed will have no impact on the Inspection Panel.
  • She again noted that CODE had requested more information on the operation and implementation of the proposed changes.  The ED requested that civil society give a bit of credit to the Bank, as governments can be difficult partners. She stressed that action plans will be part of the legal agreement between the Bank and the borrower.
  • The country partnership framework will be used to determine the country-specific context. The ED assured that while diplomatic language is required, frank discussions with government partners do take place.
  • Regarding the IFC, the ED mentioned that the private sector was quite different as the legal relationships were distinct. Governments posed particular challenges.
  • She presumed that the reference to the IFC involved the reliance on financial intermediaries, which require a greater focus on supervision and implementation.


ADD International asked for clarification on how the safeguards process links with other ongoing reform and review processes.  He mentioned that he recently attended the consultations on procurement and was very pleased with its openness and focus on strategic questions. The discussion on disability within the context of safeguards was quite late. He contrasted this with the discussions at the procurement consultations, which he found much more specific. He underscored the utility of focusing on ‘buying accessibly’, which while subject to a 1% premium, do avoid subsequent very high retrofitting costs.

Gwen Hines

  • Noted that she was happy to continue discussion on the issue and that DFID was substantially involved with the issue.
  • The WBG will name a main disability lead who will be tasked to ensure disability issues are addressed as a cross-cutting theme. The Bank is also very interested in prevention.
  • Regarding the question posed about the linkages between ongoing processes, the ED requested a bit of time, as there are in fact many processes ongoing. She noted that the key was to focus on practical issues and to look for pilots and best practices.

Labour rights and gender

The TUC noted that it had sent a letter to DFID and the ED on its concerns regarding labour issues in the new document. The TUC remains concerned at the lack of mention of the ILO’s Core Labour Standards (CLS) in the document, although these are applicable in all countries in all circumstances. The TUC also noted the omission of contractors from the protection of the safeguards. The representative noted that the AfDB, EBRD and IFC have all included mention of CLS in their documents.

ActionAid requested an update on the thinking of the ED on progress made on gender issues and her views on the gender components of the new safeguards document.

Gwen Hines

  • She acknowledged that she had received the TUC’s letter. She noted that this is the first time there is cover of labour issues, but that the UK remains concerned and has been tracking the issue closely. She underscored that labour issues “are hotly debated” and opposed strongly by some countries.
  • The ED noted that the Bank would like to increase the visibility of and attention to health and safety issues. She acknowledged that working condition and contract worker issues will be difficult to address in view of strong differences of opinion within the Board.
  • Contract workers and working conditions are controversial. WB has a different shareholder balance to AfDB and EBRD, but the UK is tracking this issue closely.
  • Regarding gender, the ED replied that she remains active on the board, but that there is no need for particular concern as the area is taken as a cross cutting issue within the WBG. The next step remains to focus on improving impact – this point of view is shared by shareholders and management.
  • She stressed the importance of a gender lens for areas such as infrastructure, which was evident in the recent Inspection Panel discussion on a case in India. She noted that gender will be kept on ‘scoreboard’ – despite some opposition. The Bank and DFID are working closely on the issue.

 Indigenous peoples

FFP raised the issue of ESS 7 or the Indigenous Peoples Alternative approach.

Gwen Hines

  • The focus is on ensuring equivalence, that is that any country requesting to adopt the alternative approach will be required to prove that it is equivalent to that contained in the safeguards.  The ED also stressed that any request for the alternative approach will require board approval.
  • The UK position is clear: we are looking for equivalency. The issue remains contentious and the African leaders’ Khartoum communique underlines this.

Undernutrition spending

Results raised the issue of funding for nutrition, in particular with regards to the new Global Financing Facility (GFF) and asked whether the UK will contribute to the new facility. He also asked whether the contributions are new funding or former IDA contributions.  He also recommended that nutrition be included in the future. Results requested information on how countries will bid for support.

Gwen Hines

  • The ED stressed that the decision vis-à-vis engagement with the GFF is a policy decision and decided in London. She mentioned however that the UK has worked closely with the Bank on health, nutrition and population programming.
  • She reminded participants that the UK is the largest contributor to IDA 17 and noted that perhaps others could do more. President Kim remains committed to ensuring that there are no ‘lulls’ in working toward the MDGs.

Inspection Panel pilot

Amnesty raised the issue of the Inspection Panel pilot and noted that the USA has agreed with many of the Amnesty’s concerns and that the UK and other ED we spoke to suggested that it may be interesting to extend the panel role to mediation The Inspection Panel assured AI that will think long and hard before applying the pilot project and that it seems perhaps lessons have been learned. The Policy needs greater clarity on basis principles – such as, who are the requesters, are requesters informed about the process they opt for, will they still be allowed to obtain registration after choosing the Pilot? Amnesty remains concerned about the Panel’s Pilot and cited the case of Badia East, Nigeria as an example.  Amnesty requested to know the UK’s position on the pilot and if a more established mediation’s role for the Panel is on the cards

Gwen Hines

  • Assured participants that there was no hidden plan to shift the Panel’s mandate. The Bank is looking for lessons from the CAO, which also has a successful mediation role and feedback from requesters.
  • The pilot was just that, a pilot. It was useful in providing information. CODE discussions are meant to gather lessons learned and raised many of the questions raised by Amnesty.
  • There are ongoing discussions at the board. There is a growing recognition that an urbanisation policy is required. The pace and extent of urbanisation is likely to continue to give rise to complex situations, which are happening frequently. Perhaps in the future the Bank may be forced to consider what it would refuse to take on. For now, there is no policy shift.
  • In the future perhaps discussions will focus on how the CAO and Panel could work together.