CSOs issue joint statement following World Bank's 'inadequate' consultations on global development policies
A coalition of Civil Society Organisations issues a joint statement addressed to the World Bank Executive Directors to express concern about inadequate World Bank CSO engagement on key policy processes, such as the IDA20 replenishment and Development Policy Financing retrospective.
Civil society organisations write to express their continued concern and frustration with the lack of adequate and substantive World Bank engagement on key policy processes, such as the IDA20 replenishment and Development Policy Financing retrospective. These processes are decisive pillars of the World Bank’s development assistance and lending policies in the post Covid-19 recovery context. Their design and implementation have a lasting impact on recipient countries across the world and it is the role of civil society to ensure that these processes are delivered in the public interest.
The 20th replenishment of the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA20) is a crucial aspect of the World Bank’s Covid-19 recovery support to countries in dire need of effective assistance. The process leading to the agreement of IDA20 is key to ensure that resources serve the most vulnerable countries and communities. Although civil society understands that the urgency of the on-going crisis has led to the early implementation of the IDA20 replenishment, the signatories of this statement nonetheless express their disappointment with the lack of effective stakeholder engagement on the design of this pivotal instrument.
A variety of civil society actors have on numerous occasions and through multiple means, raised concerns on the different themes of Jobs and Economic Transformation (JET), Human Development, including on social protection, Private Sector Window, Debt and Climate. However, the undersigned are frustrated to see that few, if any, of their suggestions are reflected or acknowledged in the IDA20 deputies draft report that will soon be tabled for endorsement.
It is particularly disturbing to note that some civil society language on care, sustainable development, debt sustainability and climate change, for example, has been integrated into the latest draft in the absence of any substantive policy framework to underpin related action, as proposed by civil society, during the finalisation of the IDA20 process.
Instead, the document reasserts the World Bank’s continued support for targeted social safety needs rather than social protection floors in line with International Labour Organization standards. It also supports policies that deepen the privatisation of public goods, including health, as well as pushing for more market creation at the expense of structural transformation. This perpetuates low income countries’ dependency on the export of natural resources and deepens their reliance on Global Value Chains which are dominated by multinational corporations based in the global North.
Given the absence of substantive changes to reflect the considerable civil society inputs provided to date, and lack of engagement by the bank during the ‘public consultation’, we have little hope that comments to the draft IDA20 deputies report will be actively considered, and even less hope that they will be integrated. It is important to note that some civil society organisations have consequently refused to contribute to the consultation.
Development Policy Financing retrospective
The World Bank’s request for civil society input into its 2021 Development Policy Financing (DPF) retrospective suffers similar important shortcomings and seems to reinforce the impression that ‘consultation’ processes are used principally to legitimate decisions largely taken and paths largely determined.
Given civil society’s longstanding calls for the DPF retrospective and, in the light of the instrument’s importance, particularly in the pandemic response context, it was surprising to discover that civil society has been invited to provide input into the retrospective’s Executive Summary. The signatories are very disappointed to note that no effort was made by the World Bank to seek input into the review’s methodology or design - and that the methodology has not been shared in advance of the feedback period.
It also remains unclear what, if anything, will become of the input provided through the process.
Despite long-standing and well-documented civil society and academic critiques about the lack of evidence to support the World Bank’s private sector led development approach, the document nonetheless evaluates the effectiveness of DPFs in supporting “a conducive private sector environment to support private sector led development and job creation.”
The Way Forward
It is very important to stress that the above-mentioned concerns about ineffective civil society engagement in two pivotal World Bank and international development policy processes are also very much shared by civil society organisations engaged in World Bank country-level programming.
In light of the extremely important issues raised above, it is imperative that the World Bank immediately reach out to civil society and begin a truly consultative deliberation process to address these fundamental governance and accountability concerns. The undersigned organizations have no other choice than to publicly voice the fact that their point of view is not being taken into account, and that civil society’s consultation has merely been a ticking the box exercise, far from reflecting the urgent needs in low-income countries.
List of Signatories
- ACT Church of Sweden
- Action Against Hunger
- Bangladesh Institute of Human Rights
- Bank Information Centre (BIC)
- Bretton Woods Project
- Friends of the Disabled Association
- Gestos (soropositividade, comunicação, gênero).
- IBON International
- Justice Makers Bangladesh
- Society for International Development (SID)
- The Big Shift Global
- We Social Movements