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World Bank’s Four Year Access to Information Policy Update

Thomas Browne's picture

Solutions Oriented Knowledge-Sharing

Making information and data freely available and usable enables citizens to engage with service providers to participate in development decisions.  But is this enough? 

Proactive disclosure of better data and information are prerequisites to enabling citizens, governments and institutions to make informed decisions.  In order to help countries utilize the open initiatives and build client demand for increased openness, the World Bank organized local workshops and public forums in South Asia and East Asia since 2012, using the twinning approach of access to information and open data.  This was an opportunity to connect local citizens and stakeholders to national and global data and knowledge, further providing the public with information needed to influence development at the local level. The World Bank interacted with civil society organizations, research and academic institutions, media, and government, among other stakeholders, providing a forum for discussion, debate and the exchange of information.  Access to Information broadens the conversation among multiple informed stakeholders and creates opportunities to find and deliver innovative local solutions to long-standing development problems.

A Continuing Success

On June 30, 2014, the World Bank completed the fourth year implementation of its landmark Policy on Access to Information (AI).  The AI Policy allows public access to any information in the Bank’s possession that is not on its list of exceptions, enabling the Bank to proactively release a wealth of information to the public. The AI policy has provided the policy framework and the enabling environment necessary for the World Bank to emerge as a convener, leader and partner in global transparency and openness.

Through innovative solutions and platforms like the Open Data portal, Open Finances, the Open Knowledge Repository (OKR), Open Operations, Open Procurement, among other initiatives, the Bank continues to maximize and enable greater accessibility by the public.  The Bank is leading partnerships such as the Open Government Partnership (OGP), the Open Aid Partnership (OAP), and the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) and works with governments to help them become more open to engage in meaningful dialogue with their citizens in an effort to achieve improved development results.   Some notable achievements are listed below:


AI Governance Framework

The World Bank has continued to reinforce and hold itself accountable through a strong governance framework.  It consists of the AI Committee (AIC) - the first level of appeals, which comprises of members representing seven Bank VPUs, the independent external AI Appeals Board - the second level of appeals consisting of three international experts, and the Policy’s anchor, which serves as the Secretariat to the AIC and the AI Appeals Board.  The governance structure illustrates the robustness of the policy and continues to be the backbone needed to ensure effective implementation of the AI policy.

Way Forward

The World Bank is committed to greater openness in its knowledge, operations and its partnerships.  While the AI policy has become ingrained in the Bank’s culture, implementation challenges remain.  The Bank is continuing efforts to operationalize and implement the policy by training staff members on their respective roles and responsibilities under the AI policy, and to support its commitment to transparency and accountability.

As the World Bank Group transitions into the new organizational structure centered on global practices and cross cutting solution areas, access to information is crucial to ensuring that as a solutions Bank, we continue to help our clients meet the toughest development challenges.  Being more open about what we do, what we know and how we work is an important step in building a more prosperous and equitable world.  This commitment, along with the sound foundation underlying the AI Policy, is essential for meeting the Bank’s new strategic direction, and goals of ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity.

Photograph by Nicolas Bertrand via World Bank Photo Collection, available here

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