Advancing the Global Development Agenda with New Possibilities for Engagement
Fiscal 2015 was marked by ambitious agendas and historic global agreements. In fiscal 2016, expectations were high that the international community would begin to deliver on its promises, particularly in addressing some of the most daunting challenges the world has faced and against stiff global economic headwinds. In this context, the World Bank Group—IBRD, IDA, IFC, and MIGA—began to envision new possibilities for engagement and collaboration within this rapidly changing world.
The World Bank Group (WBG) provided transformative leadership in a number of areas. In partnership with the United Nations and the Islamic Development Bank, the Bank Group launched a new financing facility for the Middle East and North Africa region that provides concessional financing to middle-income countries that host the majority of Syrian refugees, such as Jordan and Lebanon. At the Supporting Syria and the Region conference in London, WBG President Jim Yong Kim announced a forthcoming joint initiative with the government of Jordan and the U.K. Department for International Development to attract international financing in return for work permits for refugees—an unprecedented proposal that would create mutual benefit for host communities and the forcibly displaced. With leadership from President Kim, together with allies such as IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde, the Bank Group worked this fiscal year to highlight the important economic challenges the Syrian crisis presents and to demonstrate that it is the collective responsibility of the global community to take action. Bank Group participation in the first World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul signaled its commitment to address protracted and recurring crises within its mandate and to work to complement humanitarian and peace-building efforts through development support. A joint statement delivered at the event by seven multilateral development banks (MDBs) announced their commitment to a collective response to the forced displacement crisis.
The Bank Group leveraged its role as the 2016 chair of the group of MDB heads to advance the agendas on forced displacement, climate change, and infrastructure, with the aim of moving beyond global agreements to meaningful operational outcomes. On all three topics, a joint position has been agreed by nine MDBs, along with concrete commitments to action. The Bank Group has demonstrated leadership in moving progress forward, for instance, by cohosting the first Global Infrastructure Forum as a key follow-up to the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. More broadly, the Bank Group pushed for the inclusion of new members—the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, New Development Bank, and the Islamic Development Bank—to the MDB heads group, recognizing that collaboration is the only way forward to address common challenges.
WBG Spring and Annual Meetings continue to be important global platforms for convening partners and advancing the agenda on priority issues. The 2016 Spring Meetings yielded critical commitments in several areas, including forced displacement, the empowerment of girls and women, and development finance. At a flagship event, Queen Rania of Jordan spoke movingly about the human costs of forced displacement. The event brought together UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and other key stakeholders to forge a global consensus on the need for an integrated humanitarian–development response. U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama delivered an impassioned call for adolescent girls’ education and empowerment, while President Kim announced a $2.5 billion investment over 5 years in education projects targeting girls. The meetings concluded with a high-level panel featuring Bill Gates, who shared his vision for the future of development finance and provided a strong endorsement of the value of IDA in mobilizing development results. Two hundred parliamentarians who gathered the same week for the annual Conference of the Parliamentary Network on the WBG and IMF echoed this endorsement. The group’s leadership recognized the significant role that IDA plays in the economic development of poor countries.
WBG issue-based advocacy efforts throughout the rest of fiscal 2016 involved an increasingly diverse set of partners. The institution joined forces with a growing coalition to elevate investments in the early years of life as a priority issue for countries’ economic growth and competitiveness. At the WBG annual Foundations Advisory Council meeting, global foundation presidents indicated their support for a newly formed alliance between the Bank Group and UNICEF to advance programmatic interventions and global advocacy efforts on early childhood development. The Bank Group also launched a global partnership with the Novak Djokovic Foundation, building on its operational collaboration on early childhood development in Serbia.
In the run-up to the 21st Conference of Parties (COP 21) climate change talks in Paris, the Bank Group accelerated its engagement with global leaders and the private sector to push for putting a price on carbon pollution. In fiscal 2016, the Bank Group spearheaded the creation of the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition, bringing together 20 governments and more than 90 international corporations, which was launched at the Paris COP 21. This engagement culminated in April 2016 when President Kim, together with six heads of state and the IMF’s Christine Lagarde, called for the world to double the level of global emissions covered by carbon pricing by 2020.
Also on the eve of COP 21, the Bank Group forged an alliance with the Vatican, which has become an influential voice on climate change following the launch of Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si. With the Vatican’s support and in partnership with a number of organizations, the Bank Group staged “Fiat Lux: Illuminating our Common Home,” a public art installation in St. Peter’s Square.
As the Bank Group increases its engagement and leadership on the global stage, it recognizes the critical importance of strengthening country-level engagements. It made a number of efforts to connect global advocacy with localized efforts in fiscal 2016, and to engage with stakeholders at the country level. For instance, the Bank Group brought attention to its goal of ending extreme poverty by 2030 on End Poverty Day, the official UN observance day for the eradication of poverty. President Kim traveled to Ghana to highlight the country’s success in poverty reduction. The Bank Group also launched the Poverty in a Rising Africa report, which highlights the need for quality development data to accurately track progress. End Poverty Day will remain an important annual inflection point for end poverty advocacy efforts leading up to 2030.
The Bank Group continued to deepen its operational engagement with civil society and faith-based organizations in fiscal 2016, encouraging robust participation in policy discussions and further exploring operational collaboration.
This fiscal year also marked the third round of consultations with stakeholders on WBG safeguards. Between August 2015 and March 2016, close to 3,000 stakeholders in 93 countries were consulted. These safeguards consultations have been the most extensive conferences undertaken by the Bank Group, part of its commitment to delivering strong environmental and social policies, which are vital to achieving its twin goals. Following the conclusion of the official consultations, the 2016 Spring Meetings Civil Society Policy Forum provided an additional opportunity for civil society organizations to engage the Bank Group on a number of issues, including taxation, financial intermediaries, closing space for civil society, and human rights.
Alongside its own outreach efforts, systematically measuring how key stakeholders perceive its work remains a priority for the Bank Group. As such, it continues to survey between 7,000 and 10,000 opinion leaders in about 40 client countries every year through its Country Opinion Survey Program. As the Country Survey data repeatedly show, WBG engagement makes a difference; those respondents who say they collaborate with the World Bank are generally more positive about its work and outreach. It is also noteworthy that significant percentages of opinion leaders continue to report that the Bank must go beyond governments in its outreach efforts to be more effective. The World Bank’s innovative global engagement work responds directly to this call.