This question may have been hard to respond in the affirmative some years back, as Civil Society Organization representatives were still a rare sight at the Bank. It may be hard to believe today, but 20 years ago visiting CSOs had to be physically escorted throughout the buildings, and it was not uncommon for some CSOs to be refused entry. Today, CSOs are actively welcomed and some even have long-term building passes to facilitate their daily meetings at the Bank. As a matter of fact, the recently concluded Annual Meetings represented a milestone for CSO presence at the Bank. Not only was it the largest gathering of CSOs in a Washington-based AMs, but CSO leaders were invited, for the first time, to participate in the official Opening Plenary.
civil society policy forum
“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.
A panel on strengthening partnerships that took place earlier this week at the Civil Society Policy Forum during the 2010 Spring Meetings looked at how partnerships were integral to the response after the earthquake in Haiti.
The panel, which featured speakers from the World Bank, USAID, IMF, Save the Children, and the German Marshall Fund, explored the ways various organizations came together to ensure effective post-disaster revitalization and development outcomes after the disaster in Haiti.
One such example of collaboration and partnership was in the sharing of Bank geo-spatial data with community groups like Random Hacks of Kindness and CrisisCamp. (More on the Bank's new open data initiative here.)