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World Development Report 2017: Governance and the Law: Share your comments with us

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Rationale and Goals
The World Development Report (WDR) 2017 seeks to shed light on how a better understanding of governance can bring about more effective policy interventions to achieve sustainable improvements in development outcomes.
The Report makes three main arguments.  First, it illustrates how for policies to achieve development outcomes, institutions must perform three key functions: enable credible commitment, enhance coordination, and induce cooperation. Thus, laws and institutional forms matter only to the extent that they are able to generate these functions to induce the behavior of actors necessary to implement desired policies. 

Second, the Report argues that the effective performance of these three functions is shaped by the policy arena through which state and non-state actors interact to design and implement policies. Specifically, the relative power of different actors in the arena is critical to enabling – or constraining – policy effectiveness. Unhealthy power asymmetries can lead to persistent policy failure through exclusion, capture and clientelism.  Ideally law serves to provide checks and balances on the exercise of power, but often either reflects the interests of the powerful, or gives way to informal deals.
Third, the Report examines how the agency of elites, citizens and international actors can reshape the policy arena to expand the set of effective implementable policies. Ultimately this requires changes in the incentives of actors to pursue reforms, a shift in actors’ preferences and beliefs, and changes in the way decision making occurs to enable contestability by marginalized actors. Law can be a powerful instrument to reshape the policy arena by changing payoffs that in turn affect incentives, by enhancing focal points around which coordination can occur, and by increasing contestability by under-represented actors.
As the Report team is preparing a final version for publication, they are seeking a final set of robust and thoughtful comments to ensure that the Report is as clear as possible, and that where refinements and clarifications need to be made, that these can be accomplished prior to the final publication.

Three aspects of this consultation are of note. First, although we have engaged in a number of consultation exercises over the past year, we recognize that there have been inevitable limitations of time and resources. 

Second, although the consultations support the dialogue and enrich the perspectives present in the Report, eventually it is the Report team which takes responsibility for integrating and synthesizing the many (and often conflicting) comments received. While a broad range of perspectives has and will be considered and analyzed in the preparation of the Report, the final output will reflect the judgments of the team and the rigorous internal World Bank review process.

Finally, within these constraints, the team strongly believes that the pressing importance of the Report’s themes make it essential that as many different voices are heard not only in the completion of the Report but, equally importantly, as guidance to ongoing discussions following the Report’s publication.  To that end, the World Bank will sponsor a range of dissemination events to encourage all partners and stakeholders to participate in active discussions and further examination of this topic.

For this purpose, the team is sharing a “Green Cover" of the Report for public consultation. The WDR 2017 goes through 4 stages of drafting and reviews, traditionally referred to by different colors. The “Green Cover" refers to the third stage of this drafting process.

The draft will be available in WDR 2017 site until Friday, September 16th at 6 pm EST, when the consultation formally closes.  Comments will still be welcome after that via email website or email. 


Luis Felipe López-Calva

Global Director, Poverty and Equity Global Practice

Yongmei Zhou

Co-Director, World Development Report 2017, World Bank

Stephen Commins

Lecturer in Regional and International Development at the Department of Urban Planning UCLA, and Associate Director, Global Public Affairs, Luskin School of Public Affairs, UCLA

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