“Engagement with civil society has stepped up in so many ways—in terms of quality and also in terms of quantity. This engagement is critical because we have different roles that we can play. I think that there is a realization between civil society and the World Bank that we have a single mission and we need to forge ahead towards that mission.”
Compelling issues of the day drew the highest volume of civil society organizations to register for this year than ever before for Spring Meetings, though volcanic ash caused some panels to be cancelled, according to Edith Grace Ssempala, a World Bank senior advisor. Talks ranged from the ongoing effects of the financial crisis to the Bank’s energy strategy and new Access to Information policy.
An emphasis on engagement at the highest levels culminated in a roundtable with President Zoellick and civil society leaders.
In a session to review the World Bank’s energy strategy, dozens of representatives from the Bank and CSOs gathered in a semi-circle with simultaneous translation and participants brought in by video conference. “The subject is often too complex to dissect in an hour, but the meetings are a good place to start a conversation,” said Chad Dobson, executive director of the Bank Information Center.