International rock star Bono recently visited the World Bank where he was hosted by Bank President Jim Kim (see photo). In a packed and electrifying session, moderated by CNN news anchor Isha Sesay, Bono and Kim talked about corruption, transparency, food security, and gender inclusion. Bono called on the Bank to join civil society efforts to fight for the end of poverty. While praising the Bank’s recent open development reforms, he noted that open data and transparency would “turbo-charge” the fight against extreme poverty as it will shine a light on this urgent problem. He jokingly referred to Bank economists as “jedis for development” and said that he never thought he would say publicly “I want to go work for the Bank.” As the head of One, Bono has been an effective advocate for greater aid to Africa over the years. One reason for his success has been his willingness to work with both donor and recipient country governments to push for greater aid. In the US, he has reached out to both Democrats and Republicans in the US Congress to lobby for foreign aid, and is credited for having convinced the Bush Administration to sharply expand funding for Africa and HIV/AIDS in the mid-2000s.
Involving CSO representatives in the planning process for the Civil Society Program has led to increased and more substantive civil society participation at the Annual Meetings over the past few years. This was vividly exemplified at the recently concluded Annual Meetings in Tokyo which witnessed the largest number of CSO participants and policy sessions to date. The cornerstone of this participatory approach was the convening of a CSO Planning Group composed of 17 CSO and Youth Leaders from throughout the world invited to help plan the CSO Program (see photo and list).
Increased CSO participation in Tokyo was most evident in the number of CSOs who attended the Meetings. A total of 630 CSO representatives from a wide range of constituencies such as NGOs, labor unions, youth groups, faith-based organizations, and foundations participated. The Bank and Fund also sponsored the largest number of CSO / Youth Leaders and Academics – 56 from to 45 developing countries – who travelled to Tokyo to ensure that Southern voices and perspectives were represented (see sponsored CSOs list). They participated in a week-long schedule of events which began with an orientation session on the Fund and Bank and included attending the Opening Plenary of the Annual Meetings which featured Crown Prince Naruhito.
Yesterday’s post discussed two of the case studies from last week’s Asia Development Dialogue on active citizenship. Today’s installment covers my more general thoughts on the discussion, based on some final reflections I was asked to give at the end of the day.
First, I felt pretty privileged to be able to eavesdrop on a conversation between activists, political leaders and academics from 10 Asian countries: a women’s rights organizer from Myanmar seeking advice from a women’s leader from muslim Southern Thailand on dealing with ethnic conflict; a woman mayor from the Philippines asking a Cambodian leader if she had considered expanding her work on nurturing grassroots women’s political leadership to other countries. Fascinating.
A while back, I wrote about some amazing Oxfam women I met in East Africa. Here’s another, this time from the Philippines.
Lan (real name Lilian, but Filipinos never use real names) is one of those quiet but effective (and very determined, and maybe not so quiet….) women that abound in development work. She was formerly our country director in the Philippines, but has now moved to head up a project on ASEAN (more on that below). She is also yet another Oxfam woman with a remarkable story. In 1988, as a 28 year old Communist Party activist in the Philippines civil war, her own Party denounced and arrested her on trumped-up charges of being involved in an intra-Party assassination. They held her for 6 months in the mountains, blindfolded and handcuffed in a cage. She and the other prisoners were tortured physically, mentally and emotionally. At least she avoided the fate of prisoners in other camps, who were forced to play ‘eeny meeny miny mo’, with the loser taken out, killed, and their blood smeared over the remaining prisoners.
I’ve got a paper I want you to read, particularly if you work for an NGO or other lobbying outfit. Not because it’s good – far from it – but because reading it and (if you work for an NGO) observing your rising tide of irritation will really help you understand how those working in the private sector, government or the multilateral system feel when they read a generalized and ill-informed NGO attack on their work.
The paper in question is from a reputable institution (Manchester University’s Brooks World Poverty Institute) and authors (Nicola Banks and David Hulme), and is about ‘the role of NGOs and civil society in development and poverty reduction’. Here’s the abstract:
Unlike the 1984 movie “Blame it on Rio”, which attributed a bawdy affair between a middle-aged man (played by Michael Cain) and a teenager on the tropical vibes of the stunningly beautiful city, the recent hosting of the Rio +20 Conference served to showcase a different face of the Rio ambience -- its global environmental leadership role. The city not only maintains the world’s two largest urban forests, Pedra Branca and Tijuca (see photo), but has just completed a state of the art waste treatment center which will allow for a 8% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, and are installing 300 kilometers of bicycle lanes. For the World Bank, the city has been the setting for the improbable significant improvement in relations between the Bank and environmental CSOs over the past 20 years.
When Rio hosted the original UN Conference on Environment and Development in 1992, the Bank participated with a small staff delegation and its modest publications booth at the parallel NGO “Global Forum” held on Flamengo Beach was set on fire by environmental activists. They were protesting the Bank’s financing of the Narmada Dam project in India, which threatened to displace hundreds of thousands of small farmers without a fair and sustainable resettlement plan in place. Some were expressing disapproval of the Polonoroeste project funded by the Bank in Brazil where the paving of a highway linking two Amazonian state capitals led to widespread deforestation in the 1980s.
A record number of CSOs participated in the recently concluded Spring Meetings in Washington. Over 550 civil society representatives (see list) – 200 more than in 2011 – attended the Civil Society Program which spanned five days from April 17 to 21. Of these, the Bank and Fund sponsored 29 CSOs / Youth Leaders and Academics (see list) from developing countries in order to ensure that voices and perspectives from southern civil society and young people were adequately represented at the Spring Meetings. These sponsored participants participated actively in a week-long schedule of events, including numerous bilateral meetings with Bank and Fund senior managers.
These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.
Mobile Media Toolkit
A Profound Media Shift in the Arab World
“A report from the Center for International Media Assistance analyzes the growth of digital media in the Arab region.
A new report from the Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA) highlights a profound media shift happening in the Arab world. Amidst continued repression and threats to free expression, both online and offline, this year saw tens of millions of individuals and news outlets using social and digital media tools to capture and share events. The full report is available here: Digital Media in the Arab World One Year After the Revolutions.” READ MORE
- Mobile Media Toolkit
- Arab Spring
- social media
- free expression
- digital media
- Open Government Partnership
- open data
- latin america
- Publish What You Fund
- aid transparency
- mobile money
- African Economic Forum
- financial services
- Columbia University
The World Bank has experimented with different approaches to including civil society organizations (CSOs) in its decision-making processes over the years. These have varied from regular policy dialogue with CSOs through the Bank – NGO Committee in the 1980s and 1990s, to establishing CSO advisory committees in several Bank units during the 2000s. Currently, two of these initiatives stand out: the Bank’s Climate Investment Funds have invited 19 CSO representatives (chosen competitively through online voting) to serve as ‘active observers’ on its five Committees and Sub-Committees; and the Bank’s Health Unit has established a CSO 'consultative group' to which it invited 18 CSO leaders to advise the Bank on its health, nutrition, and population agenda.
- The World Region
- The Gates Foundation
- Policy Dialouge
- Pan African Farmers Organization
- global agriculture and food security program
- food security
- Farmer and Nature Net
- climate investment funds
- Civil Society Representation
- Civil Society Participation in Governance
- Civil Society Participation
- civil society organizations
- civil society
- Action Aid
These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.
Last Friday in Tanzania, nearly 100 civil society groups and 12 international organizations, including the International Budget Partnership, Greenpeace and ONE, launched a global effort to make public budgets transparent, participatory and accountable. Budgets are the most critical tool that governments have to address problems like poverty, provide critical services like education and health care, and invest in their country’s future. When the political speeches end, it is how governments actually manage funds to meet their promises and priorities that matters.
The Civil Society Movement for Budget Transparency, Accountability and Participation envisions public finance systems that make all budget information easily accessible, provide meaningful opportunities for citizens and civil society to participate in budget decisions and oversight throughout the process, and include strong institutions to hold governments accountable for how they raise and spend the public’s money. READ MORE