Sarah Cliffe at WDR Advisory Council in Beijing
The WDR team is in high gear. As the data collection, analysis and research phase of the WDR comes to an end, we have just held our latest round of consultations with our Advisory Council, which met in Beijing, and a session with Middle-East experts in Beirut.
At the Beijing meeting, Bob Zoellick, who chaired the opening session, spoke of his desire for a report that goes beyond the conceptual and analytical work of previous WDRs – one that provides practical guidance for development action that will make a difference on the ground.
In Beijing and Beirut our interlocutors supported the WDR’s focus on the links between conflict and organized crime, and the need to combine political, security and developmental measures to restore confidence in the short-term and transform institutions to prevent repeated cycles of violence in the longer-term.
They want a WDR that pushes the envelope in addressing difficult issues, and offers concrete and practical approaches.
Issues raised included the need to strengthen global and regional incentives to respect the rule of law and combat corruption and trafficking, provide faster procedures for international support in times of crisis, sustain support to national institution-building, and fill gaps in supporting the criminal justice system and employment creation.
Time and again, we are asked to tell it like it is – to go beyond academic language and analysis so that we can communicate what we have learned over the past 12 months in a way that people can understand and act on.
We face an exciting challenge in the next few months to turn the research and analysis into an agenda for action.
From the beginning of the WDR, we have argued that this subject could not be covered by relying on academic research and the usual round of consultations with policy makers alone: much of the knowledge on approaches is held in the minds of national reformers.
This WDR has therefore been on a longer timetable than usual, to allow for extensive consultations in countries affected with violence and with our partners in the UN and regional institutions.
The complexity of our topic, which ranges from economics to diplomatic, political and security issues, meant reaching out more than ever before. The report will be finalized in print before the Bank’s Spring meetings in April, some two months later than originally planned.
Inside the institution there is huge energy around these issues. We have taken advantage by drawing advice and input from dozens of country teams and sector units, and welcoming record numbers of staff to our brown bag lunches on specific subject issues.
As we finalize the recommendations before the report goes to the Bank’s Board for review at the end of the year, we will ensure that the process continues to be an inclusive one, tapping the knowledge of our colleagues around the Bank and working closely with external partners.
In the meantime, we will soon be posting on our website a wealth of new data related to conflict, which will allow researchers and policy groups to run their own analysis using the same data collected and used for the WDR.
The new site will also provide a pre-release platform for background papers, interviews with our authors and the Advisory Council, and some extraordinary video images that capture the reality of life in conflict-affected places for ordinary people.