This is a question many World Bank stakeholders – civil society, government, private sector representatives – have been debating in recent years. The questions is even more timely now that the Bank is considering establishing a new global Partnership for Social Accountability geared to supporting civil society capacity to engage with governments to improve development effectiveness. It comes in response to a speech Mr. Zoellick gave in April 2011 on the need to scale up relations with civil society in the wake of the Arab Spring and growth of civil society worldwide.
The objective of the Partnership would be to support greater voice and participation by citizens, budget transparency, and improved quality and availability of basic services. It would achieve these by promoting knowledge exchange and research, supporting training and capacity building, and by funding CSOs engaged in social accountability efforts nationally and regionally. The Partnership would have a multi-stakeholder governance structure which would include CSOs, governments, and donor agencies. Funding for the Partnership is slated to come from the Bank, foundations, and bilateral development agencies.
The Bank has just launched a six-month public consultation process in order to get ideas and views on the proposed partnership from CSO representatives, government officials, and other stakeholders. The first phase of the consultation, which will involve meetings and an online feedback platform, began on January 1 and goes through March 3. Stakeholders are being asked to respond to the following questions:
- What are the key challenges or issues faced by civil society, which the Partnership should try to address?
- What type of support should the proposed Partnership offer in order to help civil society address these issues?
- What should be the World Bank's role in providing this support?
- What kind of development results should the Partnership seek to achieve? By what metrics or indicator should the success of the Partnership be measured?
- The Briefing on Key Concepts outlines emerging ideas on the governance structure of the possible Partnership. What else should be taken into consideration in establishing an effective and efficient governance structure?
- What criteria should be used in the selection of civil society and independent experts to participate in the governance structure?
- What risks are to be expected and how should the Partnership seek to address these risks?
- Do you have any other suggestions on the proposed Partnership?
This is your opportunity to weigh into this discussion. Please provide your views via our online questionnaire, which you will find here. For background information on the initiative, including summary notes and participants list of nearly a dozen briefing meetings held with CSOs worldwide in 2011, visit the Partnership website. The website can currently be accessed in four languages (Arabic, French, English, and Spanish), and consultation materials in Russian and Chinese are available on the English page.
Picture credit: World Bank Civil Society Team