Ascending the CSO Engagement Continuum IV – Institutional Partnerships

Posted Posted in World Bank blogs

As can be expected, this last step on the civil society engagement continuum has been the most difficult for the World Bank to achieve over the years.  This is because institutional partnerships necessarily involve common goals, shared decision making, and even long term relations.  While there are a number of examples of Bank – CSO partnerships in the areas of education, health, and environment, many of these are still ad hoc and pilot in nature.  Nonetheless, as the latest edition of the World Bank–Civil Society Engagement Review of Fiscal Years 2010–12 shows, this period represented a watershed in terms of promoting institutional partnerships by providing CSOs with a seat at the decision making table in several funding mechanisms.

During the past three years, the Bank did enter into new partnerships with CSOs on number of fronts.   In the area of access to information and open data, for instance, the Bank held joint training workshops on geo-mapping and collaborated on data collection on several programs such as Open Aid Partnership (see photo). In the environmental area, the Bank launched the Global Partnership for Oceans (GPO) in 2012 which includes more than 100 governments, CSOs, and business partners. To date, some 27 CSOs are supporting the initiative, including Conservation International, the Environmental Defense Fund, and World Wildlife Fund.  The Bank also established partnerships with Foundations in a number of areas such as health and education, support to fragile states, and gender mainstreaming.

It was in the area of governance, however, that the most important advances were achieved in the area of institutional partnerships.  The Bank has incorporated CSOs as advisors in a number of funding mechanisms over the years. The Global Environment Facility (GEF), for instance, has 30 CSO and indigenous people’s observers, who participate in semiannual Council Meetings. The Climate Investment Funds (CIFs), have 19 CSO representatives (chosen competitively through online voting), who serve as “active observers” on its five committees and subcommittees. The World Bank–Civil Society HNP Consultative Group includes 18 CSO leaders, who advise the Bank on its health, nutrition, and population agenda (see photo). Four civil society representatives sit on the 19-member Board of Directors of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE).

Between 2010 and 2012, however, CSOs were invited for the first time to serve in a decision making capacity in several new large funding mechanisms managed by the bank. The first was the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP), which has three CSO representatives (from Africa, Asia, and Europe) on the steering committee. Established in April 2010 to promote food security in low-income countries, it is governed by a 26-member steering committee composed of government, donor agency, and CSO representatives which has allocated over $900 million dollars to support food security projects worldwide.

The most recent and promising case of CSOs being offered a deliberative role is the Global Partnership for Social Accountability (GPSA). CSOs have 3 seats (1 from a developed country and 2 from developing countries) on its 10-member steering committee, the same number allocated to governments and donor agency representatives (see diagram). The CSOs have the same voice as government and donor agency representatives to set overall policy direction, make budget allocations, and select projects for funding.

For a copy of the Civil Society Review full report and copies of the Executive Summary in six languages (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish) please visit the civil society engagement website.

Ascending the CSO Engagement Continuum III – Operational Collaboration

Posted Posted in World Bank blogs

Operational collaboration between the World Bank and CSOs has grown significantly over the past two decades in such areas of health, education, and environment. Yet, because it largely occurs at the country level and within Bank-finance projects, this expanding collaboration is often not fully visible in Washington. As the latest edition of the World Bank–Civil Society Engagement Review of Fiscal Years 2010–12 demonstrates, important operational collaboration not only continued to grow over the past three years, but expanded to areas such as food security, disaster recovery, and access to information.

In response to the global food crisis which began in 2008, for instance, CSOs in Africa and Asia participated in the delivery of government programs in 16 countries (through seed distribution, school feeding, and agricultural production programs) financed by the Bank’s $2 billion Global Food Crisis Response Program (GFRP).  CSOs were also asked to participate in the governance structure of the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP) which has allocated more than $400 million to projects in 12 countries.

The Bank and CSOs also expanded their collaboration around disaster risk management and humanitarian relief as the world witnessed an increase in natural disasters.  The Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) launched a multipronged approach that included drafting a civil society engagement strategy, hosting policy dialogue sessions, providing training, and piloting grant funds to CSOs.  There was also significant Bank-CSO collaboration on access to information and open development, characterized by joint data gathering and training initiatives.  CSOs participated actively in the planning phase of the Access to Information policy launched in 2010, by providing detailed feedback on the draft staff handbook and other documents, testing the usability of the new website, and hosting joint training sessions for CSOs to better access Bank documents.

The clearest indication of growing WBG – CSO collaboration however, occurs within Bank-financed projects.  The Civil Society Team analyzed project appraisal documents (PADs) for all 1,018 new specific investment and budget-support type development policy lending projects funded over the past three year, and found that 843 (82 percent) had some involvement of local CSOs.  As the chart below indicates, civil society involvement in Bank-financed projects is a historic trend which continues to climb over the past two decades.

That involvement included: consulting CSO on project design; contracting CSOs to conduct research or provide training; including CSOs in project advisory or decision-making bodies; and funding CSO community development and social delivery efforts. Examples of CSO involvement in Bank projects included earthquake recovery efforts in Haiti, monitoring World Bank projects in Nigeria, and training on open government in Tunisia.


Increased Bank – CSO collaboration was also witnessed in terms of Bank funding of CSOs. As a matter of fact, a significant milestone was achieved with one of the largest grant making mechanisms. The Japan Social Development Fund (JSDF) reported that for the first time in its 12-year existence, it provided most of its funds directly to CSOs rather than channeling them through governments. An internal review conducted in 2011 found that 26 funding mechanisms across the Bank provided grants directly to CSOs, totaling $197 million between fiscal 2008 and 2010.  These included the Civil Society Fund, Global Environment Facility, Development Marketplace, and the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) Trust Fund. The Bank also established the Global Partnership for Social Accountability which made its first grants in 2013 to CSOs promoting more effective and accountable government services.


For a copy of the Civil Society Review full report and copies of the Executive Summary in six languages (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish) please visit the civil society engagement website.

Ascending the CSO Engagement Continuum II – Consultations

Posted Posted in World Bank blogs

The Bank has learned a good deal about how to consult civil society over the years. The absence of consultation policies led to some of the most visible CSO advocacy campaigns opposing Bank-financed projects, such as the Narmada Dam in India and the Polonoreste Project in the Brazilian Amazon in the 1980s. Thus, while this third step on the civil society engagement continuum has been one of the most difficult to ascend, it has also shown the clearest progress in terms of more effective consultation practices.  As the latest edition of the World Bank–Civil Society Engagement Review of Fiscal Years 2010–12 demonstrates, today the Bank consults CSOs widely on its strategies, policies, programs, and projects worldwide.

At the global level, the Bank held nearly two dozen multi-stakeholder consultations during 2010 and 2012 on such policies as environment, access to information, and social accountability (see photo). These consultations were conducted via face-to-face meetings, videoconferences, online email submissions, and web-based discussions. Just in terms of meetings, more than 600 public consultation meetings were held in over 100 countries, gathering the views of about 13,000 stakeholders.

The breadth and scope of each of these consultation processes varied depending on the breadth of the topic, expressed interest by various stakeholder groups, and the scope of the consultation plans. As the graph below demonstrates, the largest share of multi-stakeholder consultation meetings were held in Africa (29 percent), followed by Europe (18 percent), East Asia and Pacific (12 percent), and other regions.

While Bank consultations were generally multi-stakeholder in nature, CSOs constituted the largest constituency in most consultations. As the graph below shows, CSOs represented 39 percent, followed by government (23 percent), consultants and individuals (12 percent), and other stakeholders.

The perspectives and recommendations made by the broad range of civil society constituencies during these consultations improved the quality and impact of Bank policies and programs.  This was evidenced for instance with the Access to Information policy consultations in 2011 in which CSOs such as the Bank Information Center and the International Budget Project provided valuable feedback and technical assistance (see details) during the consultation and planning phase of the consultation process.

Although consultations at the global and regional levels are more visible, the most intense and ongoing levels of consultations occur at the country level, where the Bank carries out most of its development work. The most important consultations undertaken at the country level were related to the drafting of Country Assistance Strategies (CASs) and Poverty Reduction Strategies (PRSs). The venues and formats used to consult with CSOs on CASs and PRSPs included the media, opinion surveys, focus group meetings, public forums, and web-based platforms (see photo). The Review found evidence of civil society participation in 106 (82 percent) of the 129 CAS related documents approved by the Bank’s Board during fiscal 2010 – 2012. As the graph below shows, CSOs were consulted in 53 of the 59 CAS documents (90 percent), 37 of the 52 CAS Progress Reports (71 percent), and 16 of the 18 Interim Strategy Notes (89 percent).

CSOs were also consulted heavily during the preparation of the Poverty Reduction Strategies.  A desk review carried out by the Civil Society Team found there was some form of CSO participation in ALL of the 28 PRSP documents prepared during the three-year period, representing 100% coverage.

It is important to note, however, that the scope and intensity of the CAS and PRSP consultations varied across countries and was based on several factors including the: i) proactive nature and effectiveness of Bank outreach efforts; ii) openness and ability of governments to reach out to civil society; and iii) level of CSO activism and capacity to engage. For this reason, while it is clear that the Bank has made important advances in its consultation approaches, it still needs to improve the consistency and quality of its consultation efforts across the institution.  The Bank is in the process of developing new uniform consultation guidelines for Bank staff which should prove quite useful when launched in the coming months.

For a copy of the Civil Society Review full report and copies of the Executive Summary in six languages (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, Spanish) please visit the civil society engagement website.