How the World Bank will design its work in the future

How the World Bank will design its work in the future

As part of the on-going changes and reforms at the World Bank under the leadership of Dr. Jim Kim, the Bank has recently made public, and started consultations on, an important new policy process which they are calling “a new approach to Country Engagement”. This process is a two-step method through which the Bank will design all its interventions and activities in a given country. In the past, assessment of the situation in a country in which the Bank has investments and grants was done through an over-arching policy document called the Country Assistance Strategy (CAS). This document was intended to provide a framework for all investment and loan decisions. However the old CAS system was criticised for not recognising the constraints and limitations, which act on the Bank’s abilities to ‘do good’ or to alleviate poverty, and for being too focused on economic growth to the exclusion of other areas or sectors of investment or loan. The new system is designed to be a two-step process. First an initial ‘systematic country diagnostic’ is conducted to identify constraints and opportunities for the Bank. The second step is the country partnership framework, a document in which investment decisions are made and a guide for future investments or loans is provided. The review of this important process of deciding how to assess the situation in borrower countries is potentially an opportunity to correct some of the long-term failings of the Bank. It may be a way in which human rights concerns and limitations can be officially recognised and assessed as risks to the Bank, and may impact on investment decisions. It may be a process through which indigenous peoples and other rights-holders in a country have direct access to the analysis that the Bank uses to allocate its significant resources. Any positive outcomes however are dependent on the consultation process being open, transparent, accessible and fair. We, along with other organisations, are calling for the Bank to ensure strict minimum standards for public input into every strategic country diagnostic. It is absolutely critical that indigenous peoples and other groups, likely impacted by the Bank’s investment and loan portfolio, are able to give direct input to this important overarching document. Similarly the development of the country partnership framework must be modelled on the highest standards of consultation and participation, where meaningful input is secured from key stakeholders and rights-holders in each country.

Helen Tugendhat

Please click here for the civil society letter Please click here for the World Bank consultation page