In fiscal 2017, the international community continued to deliver on its development commitments against a backdrop of increasing global and political uncertainty. In this context, the World Bank deepened its engagements with partners and stakeholders, recognizing that the complexity of the world’s challenges requires even greater collaboration if the twin goals of ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity are to be realized.
Partnering for development impact
Despite the challenging environment, the World Bank continued to advocate on issues of critical importance and to strengthen its partnerships with the international community to deliver for the world’s poor. This was especially important during the IDA18 Replenishment. The Bank built a coalition of hundreds of donor and borrower governments, members of civil society, faith-based organizations, and key influencers that resulted in a record replenishment of $75 billion.
World Bank engagement with the private sector also received increased focus, with the recognition that achieving the Sustainable Development Goals will require investments of all kinds to move from billions of dollars in development assistance to trillions. At international forums such as the G-20, the World Economic Forum, and the World Bank Group–International Monetary Fund (IMF) Annual and Spring Meetings, the Bank underscored its support for crowding in private sector financing, in coordination with development partners, and for increasing the voices of the private sector in development discussions. This approach to development finance and private sector engagement gained broad support and was formally endorsed by the G-20 finance ministers and central bank governors. Ensuring that the private resources mobilized are truly additional is one of the G-7 (Group of Seven) Principles on coordination by international financial institutions. The Bank will play a key role in the response of multilateral development banks in this area.
Citizens also play a critical role in helping to make public institutions more transparent, accountable, and effective, and to improve development results. Engaging with beneficiaries—those citizens directly targeted by and expected to benefit from a Bank-financed development project—is a priority. The World Bank has made progress toward President Kim’s pledge to increase beneficiary feedback to 100 percent of projects with clearly identified beneficiaries by the end of fiscal 2018. Halfway through fiscal 2017, 99 percent of approved investment project financing had a beneficiary-oriented design, and 89 percent of approved projects included a beneficiary feedback indicator. The implementation of citizen engagement mechanisms and indicators will be monitored from fiscal 2019 onward.
Addressing critical issues: Climate change, human capital development, and fragility
The World Bank continued to advocate for concerted, accelerated global action to help low- and middle-income developing countries to meet the challenge of climate change. This was done through platforms such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of Parties (COP22), the World Economic Forum, the Bank Group–IMF Annual and Spring Meetings, and the G-7 Environment Ministerial Meeting. At COP22, the Bank focused on solutions for the most vulnerable countries, with a new Climate Action Plan for the Middle East and North Africa region and a report on building the resilience of developing countries to natural disasters. During the Spring Meetings, climate leaders from government, private sector, and philanthropy convened to explore new ways of leveraging and targeting climate financing for maximum scale and impact.
Signaling the importance of human capital investment, the Bank established partnerships and leveraged platforms aimed at increasing global and domestic support for the early childhood development movement—known as the Early Years—which is a key priority investment for country-level economic growth and competitiveness. At a high-level roundtable at the Spring Meetings, the Bank convened key partners around the Early Years agenda, creating an opportunity for them to voice concrete commitments and to draw attention to the crucial need to work together at the country level. Foundations have also played an important role in support of early childhood development, from parallel funding to advocacy actions.
The Bank’s work to address the challenges of fragility, conflict, and violence to help build resilience and stability relies on strong collaboration with humanitarian–development–peace partners, including collaboration with civil society organizations that work in the most difficult environments. As part of these efforts, the Bank convened a high-level meeting chaired by President Kim and UN Secretary-General Antonio Gutteres at the Spring Meetings in response to the famine crisis in Sub-Saharan Africa and Yemen. Governments, development partners, and civil society came together in support of zero tolerance for famine. To encourage innovative financing approaches that work for a diverse group of countries affected by fragility, a high-level panel was organized emphasizing collaboration between the Bank, United Nations, and the European Commission.
Multilateral engagements and forums serve as important opportunities to provide a voice for developing countries and to advance key priorities on an international level. The World Bank expanded its collaboration with the United Nations to address critical issues, including fragile and conflict-affected areas, refugees, famine, and pandemics. Partnering on the sustainable development and climate change agendas, they engaged on a broad range of topics from education and health to trade and statistics. For the German G-20 Presidency, the Bank led work to stimulate sustainable and inclusive economic development in Africa, promulgated a set of principles to mobilize greater private sector finance, and led efforts to increase women’s economic empowerment. The Bank also contributed to the Italian G-7 Presidency, notably through leadership on more effective coordination among international financial institutions, including multilateral development bank (MDB) delivery of value for money. At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the Bank led discussions on the role of the private sector in development with MDB partners, hosted a pandemics simulation, and met with chief executive officers to discuss climate financing, among other engagements. Across these forums, the World Bank continues to lead in shaping the conversation on financing, data, and implementation, with a focus on incentivizing private sector actors to contribute to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Civil society’s role in development and in promoting accountability and transparency is more important than ever. In fiscal 2017, civil society and faith-based organizations engaged in the IDA replenishment process; participated in consultations and dialogue around the development and implementation of the Environmental and Social Framework; participated in a wide range of policy discussions; and explored new areas of operational collaboration. The Civil Society Policy Forum at the Spring and Annual Meetings provided an additional opportunity for civil society to engage the Bank on issues, including citizen engagement, financial intermediaries, education, energy, and climate change. As an example of the Bank’s efforts to engage country-level stakeholders, it organized workshops with civil society and faith-based organizations from 35 out of 48 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Parliamentarians are critical stakeholders for the Bank across the world, given their role in financial and political decision making. There is an active program of engagement through dialogue, information sharing, and development advocacy with parliamentarians. Together with the IMF and the Parliamentary Network on the World Bank and IMF (PN), the Bank organized the annual Parliamentary Conference during the Spring Meetings, in which 212 participants from 67 countries met with Bank and IMF leadership to talk about the global development agenda. The Bank also facilitated parliamentarian discussions around early childhood development; visits to Bank-supported projects; and with the PN, launched a Middle East and North Africa chapter to tackle issues important to the region.
The Bank currently has partnerships with nearly 100 foundations across all regions of the world. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is the Bank’s largest philanthropic funder, with programs in the areas of agriculture, health and nutrition, water and sanitation, financial inclusion, and gender equality. Other major philanthropic partners include the United Nations Foundation, the Mastercard Foundation, the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Aga Khan Development Network, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and the Open Society Foundations.
Marking End Poverty Day
On End Poverty Day (October 17), the World Bank engaged with partners at the local, regional, and global levels to raise awareness about the progress made and actions needed to end poverty. Just prior to End Poverty Day, the Bank released a new flagship report, Poverty and Shared Prosperity 2016: Taking on Inequality, which serves as a call to action on the need to tackle inequality in order to meet the Bank’s twin goals. The Bank also profiled Bangladesh’s experience in reducing poverty, through a visit by President Kim and engagement with key stakeholders. Country offices around the world organized events, discussions, and service days to call attention to national and global progress in the fight against poverty.
Valuing the opinions of stakeholders
Alongside its global outreach efforts, the Bank prioritizes systematically measuring the views of thousands of influencers and key stakeholders in its client countries through its Country Opinion Survey Program. Their perceptions and attitudes are tracked over time to help inform strategies across countries and across the World Bank Group. The survey data showed that governance reform/government effectiveness was considered the top development priority across the aggregate of countries surveyed in fiscal 2016, while food security as a development priority increased significantly, particularly in IDA countries. For the institution, speed and flexibility continue to be seen as challenges. However, the Bank continues to receive the highest ratings for its role as a long-term partner, the way in which it collaborates with governments, and the respect with which it treats stakeholders. It will continue to build on these strengths and address areas for improvement as it fosters the partnerships needed for development impact.