The World Bank recognizes that collaboration between civil society, government, and the private sector can significantly enhance efforts to promote economic growth and sustainable social development. Civil society, in particular, plays an important role in development by:
Ensuring that voices of poor and marginalized people can be heard by governments, and their views factored into policy decisions.
Promoting public sector accountability and transparency through increased pressure for good governance.
Building common-ground through participatory approaches and strengthening national development strategies and poverty reduction initiatives.
Providing technical expertise and offering innovative and cost-effective solutions to local problems.
Partnering with governments to provide social services, particularly in fragile governance and post-conflict settings.
How the Bank Engages with Civil Society
The Bank began formally interacting with CSOs in the late 1970s through discussions over concern about environmental impacts of Bank-funded projects. In 1981, the Bank’s Board of Directors approved the first policy on relations with CSOs. Recently, the Bank published a policy paper titled Issues and Options for Improving Engagement between the World Bank and Civil Society Organization. , The report analyzes the Bank’s relationship with civil society and provides an institutional framework and provides a 10-point action plan for further strengthening these relations. In January 2005, the paper was presented to the Bank’s Board of Executive Directors, whom reaffirmed support for civil society engagement as an important component to strengthening its own poverty reduction efforts worldwide.
In the area of policy dialogue, the Bank consults with CSOs to get their views and suggestions on a range of issues from global policies such as social safeguards to specific projects at the country level. The Bank also encourages and supports developing-country governments to engage CSOs in the formulation of Poverty Reduction Strategies (PRSs) which define a country’s policies and plans for poverty reduction. The most recent consultation process occurred in 2007 and was centered around the Governance and Anti-Corruption Strategy. This involved meetings with civil society representatives in over 40 countries across the globe.
The Bank has steadily increased its operational collaboration with civil society by involving them in Bank-funded projects and by funding their own development initiatives. The projected involvement of CSOs in Bank-financed projects has increased from 21 percent of the total number of newly funded projects in Fiscal Year 1990 to an estimated 72 percent in Fiscal Year 2005. Unprecedented Bank and civil society collaboration occurred in response to the Asian Tsunami in 2004, particularly in Indonesia, where the Bank and CSOs have worked closely in rebuilding efforts.
Support of civil society development efforts worldwide has increased through the establishment of numerous funding mechanisms. Grants are typically provided to CSOs working in areas such as: rural poverty alleviation, community health, micro-enterprise development, environmental protection, primary education, and gender rights. The Bank funds CSOs directly through Washington-based mechanisms, and indirectly through government-administered social funds in more than 60 countries.
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