Civil society warns World Bank: The Business Enabling Environment Project is a rebranding of the disgraced Doing Business Report and it must be abandoned

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Today the World Bank closed a consultation process on their plans to replace the discontinued Doing Business Report (DBR) with the Business Environment Enabling Project (BEE). A coalition of  CSOs have delivered a strongly worded submission arguing this is a rebranding exercise which does not address the root problems in the Bank's engagement in private sector advice

Following the discontinuation of the DBR, civil society organisations demanded that the DBR’s discontinuation be followed by a deep rethinking of the World Bank's governance, processes and ideologies, and stated that the creation of a Doing Business 2.0 should be avoided.

The Doing Business report and rankings have long been criticised by civil society for driving countries to a race to the bottom of business deregulation on the grounds of recessive indicators. Earlier last year, CSOs launched the #RightsNotRankings campaign, calling for the Bank to prioritise human rights in its private sector policy advice.

And yet, on the grounds of the information provided in the pre-concept note, the BEE project proposes a rebranding exercise of the Doing Business Report, albeit with some methodological innovations that do not address its structural problems. In particular, the Project remains based on the same flawed understanding of the role of the private sector in development and now includes a problematic cooptation of public services language. Worryingly, none of the changes included in the BEE Project seems to address the root problems in the World Bank’s engagement in private sector advice that emerged from the investigations published in September 2021.

As currently designed, the BEE will do nothing to address the challenges that developing countries are facing and going to face in the future, such as the energy transition and the creation of green and decent jobs, nor support the World Bank’s ability to achieve its twin goals of ending poverty and sharing prosperity in the case of the Covid-19 and other crisis.

The World Bank should abandon the BEE project. Instead, we suggest the three following steps:

  • Before embarking into any new project, it should review and assess the impact on poverty, inequality and human rights of the implementation of 17 years of DBR-inspired policy reforms, especially in countries that have seen fast and large improvements in their scores.
  • The World Bank should undertake a deep exercise of rethinking its understanding of the role of the private sector in development in light of the Covid-19 recovery, and the inequality and climate crises
  • The World Bank should address its deep structural problems and implement the following measures proposed by 130 CSOs in a statement in September 2021

Read the full submission here


This submission has been signed by:

  • Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD)
  • Christian Aid
  • Bretton Woods Project
  • European Network on Debt and Development (Eurodad)
  • Society for International Development (SID)
  • Third World Network (TWN)
  • Urgewald

Showing 3 reactions

  • Tiago Matos
    commented 2022-03-24 15:50:48 +0100
    The rebranding process which is being undertaken by the World Bank in order to restore the power and influence experienced with its Doing Business ranking demonstrates how deeply crusted is the assumption that deregulation leads – automatically – to development within its bureaucracy. After more than a decade of criticism, scandals, and questionable results, is advancing an agenda on business regulatory reforms based on pressure instruments still worth it? Well, it seems that from the point of view of the Washington-based IFI it is.
  • Tiago Matos
    followed this page 2022-03-24 15:35:22 +0100
  • Mary Stokes
    published this page in News & Analysis 2022-03-16 11:30:46 +0100