Representatives from civil society organizations around the world converged at the Istanbul Conference Center yesterday for a special Townhall meeting with World Bank President Robert Zoellick and IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn.
Just guestimating here, but I’d say there were about 300 CSOs in the room.
At the head of the table was moderator Archbishop Winston Njongonkulu Ndungane, who set the tone by noting how times have changed, with the World Bank and IMF engaging much more closely with CSOs these days.
The Archbishop posed three questions to inform the discussion: How can we work together to avoid another financial crisis? What can the Bank and Fund do to make sure the world doesn’t backslide? And how do shifts in power give those most affected by the crisis a chance to impact the response?
Zoellick and Strauss-Kahn both took a few minutes to welcome the civil society members and share their views of the current economic crisis.
Zoellick said he was pleased with the Bank’s growing engagement with CSOs, which he considered to be an opportunity for the Bank. He sympathized with organizations that have seen their operating funds dry up over the past few years: “The crisis has been a big blow to many CSOs.”
The Q&A portion of the meeting focused on what it means for developing countries to be part of the solution to the global economic crisis; the Bank’s role in preparing for the climate change agreement in Copenhagen in December; developing country voices; and countries’ response to the call to contribute the equivalent of 0.7 percent of their stimulus packages to a special Vulnerability Fund.
The event was one of nearly 50 sessions planned over a six-day period as part of the Civil Society Policy Forum, organized by the World Bank Group and IMF civil society teams. The forum is bringing together, CSO representatives, Bank and Fund staff, along with government officials, academics, thinktanks and others to talk about issues such as food security, the global economic crisis and climate change.