Speaking today ahead of the World Bank-IMF Spring Meetings, Bank President Robert Zoellick said the crisis engulfing the Middle East and North Africa shows that greater citizen participation and better governance are crucial for economic development. The World Bank will do more to emphasize both, he said.“Our message to our clients, whatever their political system, is that you cannot have successful development without good governance and without the participation of your citizens,” Zoellick said.
He noted that issues such as corruption, gender and transparency were in the past not mentioned at the World Bank because they were seen as too political. But over the last 20 years, each had become recognized as crucial for successful development and are now part of the Bank’s policy portfolio. Likewise, citizen participation and good governance are recognized today as must haves for economic success.
The World Bank is currently working with civil society and project beneficiaries in over half of its new operations. But Zoellick proposed that the Bank now examine taking this further by introducing new facilities or capabilities to help strengthen the capacity of civil society organizations working on accountability and transparency in service delivery.
For more, see the press release  and speech text , or view a video clip  of the speech.