FEATURE STORY

Peru Annual Meetings Represent Milestone in LAC Civil Society Engagement

October 28, 2015


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CSO Townhall with WBG President and IMF Managing Director, October 7, 2015.


STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The Civil Society Policy Forum (CSPF) has evolved over the past ten years into a robust platform offering important opportunities for engagement.

The Civil Society Policy Forum (CSPF) has evolved over the past ten years into a robust platform offering important opportunities for engagement. The growth of the CSPF mirrors the evolution in the World Bank’s deeper and broader engagement with Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), which include advocacy organizations, think tanks, academics, operational, relief and development organizations. The CSPF has become an integral part of the Spring and Annual Meetings, providing an open space for civil society and other partners to debate the Bank’s policies and projects and to discuss the latest trends in development.

With close to 600 CSO representatives and leaders in attendance, the recent Annual Meetings in Lima recorded the highest number of Latin American civil society participants with more than 300 from the Latin America region including 260 from Peru. This robust participation followed a series of coordinated outreach efforts to CSOs to draw in the regional community in the lead up to the Lima meetings.

To increase participation from partner countries beyond the United States and Europe, in collaboration with the IMF, the World Bank supported the attendance of approximately sixty CSO leaders from developing client countries of the World Bank and IMF; which brings the total number of sponsored CSOs since 2003 to 555. The Civil Society Team works closely with the Regions and Global Practices to identify promising and dynamic civil society leaders who would otherwise be unlikely able to attend the Annual Meetings. Many of these Civil Society leaders serve as key speakers and spokespeople not just in the Policy Forum but in flagship and side events throughout the Annual Meetings. Notable participation of civil society in the Lima flagship events included Mr. Jose Ugaz, the Chairman of the International Board, Transparency International on our Social Inclusion Wikistage and an event on Combatting Illicit Financial Flows; Juan Alberto Fuentes Knight, Chair, Oxfam International on our Flagship on Inequality, Prosperity and Opportunity; Ziad Abdel Samad, Executive Director of the Arab Network for Development (ANND) in an event on the MENA region: Fragility in Middle Income Countries; and Carlos Bedoya, Director from Latindadd who joined a side event focused on Taxation.

The Forum venue, which was centrally located inside the National Museum, placed CSO participants in the heart of the Annual Meetings and encouraged the fluid participation of CSOs from the Civil Society Policy Forum to the Annual Meeting flagship sessions, side events and corridor interaction with delegates and Bank officials. Consequently, CSO participants were pleased to record participation of several senior Bank staff and government officials during the Forum. - including Hartwig Schafer, Vice President of Operation Policy and Country Services; Makhtar Diop, Vice President of the Africa Region; Caren Gown, Senior Director for the Gender CCSA; Laurence Carter, Senior Director of the Public Private Partnership CCSA; as well as Maninder Gill, Director of the Social, Urban, Rural and Resilience Global Practice. A number of senior government officials from Peru and across Latin America also participated in the Forum.

The broad themes that featured prominently in the main agenda of the Annual Meetings mirrored the issues debated in 45 Civil Society Policy Forum sessions, which were mostly proposed and organized by CSOs themselves, including inequality, climate change, illicit financial flows, extractives and safeguards.


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The Bank’s dual goals of ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity has resonance with many CSOs and has generated new opportunities for dialogue and partnership. However, many CSOs continue to criticize the “shared prosperity goal” for not being bold and specifically addressing the measurement of growth in incomes of the top 1% in comparison to the bottom 40%. The safeguards review also continues to be a flashpoint in CSO – Bank engagement and the source of significant CSO advocacy which has evolved to include critical engagement including substantive feedback and recommendations through consultations and written submissions, many of which have been incorporated into the revised draft safeguards. A number of other issues remain topical, including concerns around the Bank’s use of financial intermediaries, Bank financing of hydro and coal projects, resettlement issues and extractives, among others.

The 2015 CSPF also included significant participation from people living with disabilities, indigenous communities as well as other marginalized groups. A number of people living with disabilities were particularly outspoken and eloquent advocates throughout the program, raising awareness and calling for greater action to create real opportunities and inclusion.

The two high level and pinnacle events of the Civil Society Policy Form - the Town hall Forum and Roundtable with the Executive Directors - continued to be the most highly attended and anticipated events where these issues also surfaced.

More than 400 CSO representatives filled the room for a robust Town Hall Forum with World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde who fielded more than 20 questions within three main thematic areas including poverty reduction, social development and social inclusion.  Jose Ugaz, Chairman of the International Board of Transparency International, served as a skilled and compelling moderator for the Forum and President Kim, who kicked off his remarks in Spanish, reflected on the degree to which his experiences working in Lima early in his career through Partners in Health had inspired a great deal of his work today.  While working in Peru, he said, he also witnessed some of the negative impacts of World Bank and IMF policy prescriptions, particularly in the context of reductions in social sector spending.  He noted that the Bank has evolved significantly since and is committed to being “non-ideological”, looking around the world for the best innovations and solutions to advance the dual goals of ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity. He also mentioned that while incomes of the bottom 40% have risen in many parts of Latin America, the region faces headwinds with the threat of rising interest rates and the end of the mineral commodity super boom. He said that the Bank will work to ensure that countries can grow their economies inclusively, invest in health and education and ensure that people do not fall back into poverty. The Forum ended with an opportunity for Ibis Fernandez, a member of the a Peruvian trade union platform and organizers of a National Alternative Forum, to highlight their concerns with the need to prioritize human rights, indigenous rights and the right to just work.

The Executive Directors (ED) Roundtable provided a critical platform for civil society leaders to engage with several EDs, Alternates and Senior Advisers representing the offices of 20 EDs of the World Bank Group. The Roundtable was co-chaired by Mr. Merza Hasan, Dean of the World Bank Board of Executive Directors and Mr. Danny Kaufman, President of the National Resources Governance Institute. In an ongoing mark of collaboration between the EDs offices and civil society, CIVICUS and the Bank Information Centre granted their second award for website transparency and openness to the Office of the U.S. ED.  The discussion between the EDs and Civil Society featured a dynamic series of questions and answers covering many different elements of the Bank’s work and around leading development issues including strategies the Bank has adopted to combat corruption; the Bank’s polices on inclusion and the protection of people with disabilities; the Bank’s willingness to create a debt relief fund for disaster struck countries and efforts to prevent human rights violations in the mining and extractives sector.

With plans to continue to strengthen the Civil Society Policy Forum, and build opportunities for collaboration between the World Bank Group and Civil Society, the Civil Society Team will continue to promote the program’s visibility and advocate for greater integration into the Annual Meetings schedule as well as the participation of even more Bank staff as session participants as a way to encourage greater dialogue. The goal of the Forum is to create a dynamic space in which critical perspectives are welcomed and encouraged while space is also created to share best practices and foster new partnerships. Given the diversity of priorities, perspectives and opinions that exist across the CSO landscape, developing a program that is ideal for everyone continues to represent a herculean task which the Bank’s Civil Society Team is committed to fulfilling.

Last Updated: Oct 28, 2015




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