A new phase of openness began five years ago on July 1, 2010, when the World Bank launched its Policy on Access to Information, which provides access to any information in the Bank’s possession that is not on a list of exceptions. The policy has served as a catalyst and has created an ecosystem of transparency initiatives to make World Bank information and data available to the public. In the years since 2010, the Bank has applied the principles underpinning Access to Information to accompanying initiatives such as Open Data, the Open Knowledge Repository, Open Finances, and Open Contracting, among others. The spectrum of transparency and innovation even extends beyond these initiatives to include the World Bank’s vision on Open Government.
Open approaches are paramount to development. But while access to information and technology are important to the development process, they are only part of the equation in finding solutions. A crucial part of the process lies with global citizens who can – and do – utilize the information and data to engage with and better their communities.
Transparent access to World Bank information has benefited communities around the world in unexpected ways. By making this information available, creative minds can find new ways to make an impact.
A group of dedicated researchers submitted an Access to Information request in 2012 for a World Bank report on India’s Water and Sanitation Program, with the intention of using this information to analyze cost-recovery data for sanitation services in cities and across the country’s regions. They were able to fill a crucial knowledge gap between public health and sanitation services that can affect the ultimate consumer of public health services in the country.
Another requester contacted the World Bank for project information related to gross domestic product variables in African nations, in order to use that information to investigate factors that can influence medical systems to improve maternal healthcare across the continent.
What did these requesters have in common? They were able to easily submit Access to Information requests and gain useful information to find creative and effective ways to influence people’s lives. After all, isn't that what access to information offers? To participate, use the available resources, and find ways for governments and citizens to engage in order to promote accountability and citizen-centric development?
As we celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Access to Information policy, the World Bank is proud to be a partner to its clients, beneficiaries, and stakeholders in promoting greater transparency, accountability, and openness. Ideas and perspectives from citizens and stakeholders around the world have contributed to the results we have achieved in the past five years.
In the future, we expect to see the impact that access to information and data has had on communities around the world. We need active support from committed global citizens like you to make the most of the information, knowledge and data available at the World Bank, and to make a difference with it to solve the world’s most critical development challenges.
Please share your stories on how you have used information from the World Bank. Let your voice be heard!