The World Bank supports social development by listening to poor people and promoting their voices in the development process; understanding and addressing their needs, priorities and aspirations; and building formal and informal institutions. Read More »
In social development, we adopt an approach that focuses on the need to “put people first” in development processes. Overcoming poverty is not just a matter of getting economic policies right - it is also about promoting social development, which empowers people by creating more inclusive, cohesive, resilient, and accountable institutions and societies.
Sustainable development requires balancing the needs of present and future generations and has become a rapidly growing global concern. Three critical factors - economic, ecological, and social - take a central place in discussions of growth and poverty-reduction. Social sustainability is a critical aspect of achieving long-term development that significantly improves the lives of the world’s poorest people.
Development experiences from client countries of both the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the International Development Association (IDA) have shown that overcoming poverty requires more than getting economic policies right. Many of these societies are torn by conflict, fragility and violence, or beset by inequality of opportunity based on gender, race, ethnicity or other factors. Governance problems such as corruption and lack of citizen voice and engagement afflict many societies and nations, undermining public participation in decisionmaking that affects communities’ futures.
There are several challenges affecting the World Bank’s client countries, such as: the issue of social inclusion, enabling the vulnerable and marginalized segments of society to have a say in defining their development paths; the increasing global consciousness of the challenge of climate action and its social dimensions; an increasing focus on the problems of "fragility" - of countries, states and societies - and the implications for poor people; increasing urbanization and its impact on developing societies; and revolutionary changes in information and communication technologies.
Social development work at the World Bank aims to strengthen the understanding and the analytical underpinnings for inclusive, cohesive, resilient and accountable institutions. The World Bank has been supporting applied research and the development of tools and methods, as well as scaling-up operations.
Social development "puts people first." It stands for a bottom-up approach to development that brings voices of the poor and underprivileged into the otherwise top-down development process. It does this by making substantial evidence-based policy and program contributions through:
Undertaking better and more timely social and political risk analysis, including poverty and social impact analyses.
Building a greater understanding of the resilience of communities and institutions to a range of natural and man-made shocks, be it economic crises, climate change, natural disasters or violent conflict.
Strengthening links between citizens and their government representatives, and promoting more accountable government structures; one aspect of this agenda is the work on mainstreaming citizen engagement for enhanced impact in World Bank Group operations, which includes initial pilots in the Middle East, North Africa Region.
Empowering communities by transferring the control over development decisions and resources for poverty-reduction to the communities through the community-driven development (CDD) approach. In FY13, US$3.96 billion of new lending was approved that uses a CDD approach.
Enhancing positive impacts, mitigating negative impacts, and managing social and political risks, including compliance with the Bank’s social safeguards policies on Indigenous Peoples and Involuntary Resettlement. As of the end of FY13, 73 percent of the Bank’s active project portfolio triggered one of these social safeguard policies.
Mainstreaming gender concerns and ensuring that operations are gender-informed.
At the end of FY13 Social Development had an active Bank-wide operational portfolio of 27 projects totaling US$2,487 million, consisting mainly of projects that adopted the CDD approach. The largest share of this portfolio is in the East Asia and Pacific Region, which had 13 projects, consisting of 72 percent of the overall Social Development portfolio. Examples of results in operations include:
Thefirst stand-alone citizen security investment project wasapproved by the World Bank in December 2012. TheHonduran Safer Municipalities Project(US$15 million credit) is designed to improve the capacity of national and local governments in violence prevention.
Two new CDD projects were approved by the Board in December 2012 in Indonesia - US$650 million towards the ongoing National Program for Community Empowerment in Rural Areas (PNPM Rural 2012-2015), and US$266 million towards the Fourth National Program for Community Empowerment in Urban Areas. PNPM-Rural is one of the world’s largest community-based poverty reduction programs, covering over 64,000 villages. PNPM programs have had significant impacts in terms of poverty-reduction, including an increase in household expenditures among the poor by an average of 11 percent, benefitting approximately 45 million poor people.
The Myanmar National Community Driven Development Project, the first operation in Myanmar, was approved by the World Bank in November 2012 (US$80 million IDA grant). The project supports the government's shift to a "people-centered" approach to development by enabling poor rural communities to benefit from improved access to, and use of, basic infrastructure and services.
The Second Azerbaijan Rural Investment Projectapproved in July 2012 (IDA US$30 million) follows on a successful earlier project (AzRIP) which was designed to improve living standards through improving community rural infrastructure. It supported the rehabilitation of critical infrastructure in over 300 poor rural communities across the country reaching over 1.7 million beneficiaries.
The Morocco Second National Initiative for Human Development (INDH-2)(US$300 million, approved in June 2012), follows on the first INDH project, which relied on a bottom-up participation and planning process to improve living standards and give greater voice to the poor in targeted communities. More than 22,000 sub-projects were financed under INDH reaching over 5 million beneficiaries, and INDH-2 supports income-generating activities, improved access to basic services and key infrastructure in the poorest regions of Morocco.
In 2012, the World Bank began a two-year process to update and consolidate the Bank’s policy framework for social sustainability and safeguards. The first phase of global consultations with staff, shareholders, and a wide range of external stakeholders was completed in May 2013. Consultations included 65 meetings in 30 countries, across all regions, with over 1,800 stakeholders sharing their views and recommendations for modernizing the safeguard policies, along with recommendations regarding specific policies, with a strong emphasis on Involuntary Resettlement, Environmental Assessment, and Indigenous Peoples. The next steps in the consultation process include drafting the components of the Integrated Framework and the second round of global consultations will begin in 2014.
Over 40 Social Development knowledge products were produced in FY13, including theFlagship Study on Social Inclusion, ‘Inclusion Matters: The Foundation for Shared Prosperity’ which will be launched in October 2013. Work is ongoing on a flagship report on social accountability, which will be completed in 2014. The report will explore how social accountability impacts on state-society relationship, how this impact is mediated by various contextual factors.
Given the persistent challenges of poverty and widening inequality, with the poor increasingly found in middle-income countries as well as in fragile states, the Social Development principles of inclusion, cohesion, resilience and accountability will continue to be integrated across the institution: at the country level – through diagnostics and programming work; across the World Bank’s portfolio – in its development policy and investment lending alike; and through analytical work exploring key social sustainability challenges.
The World Bank uses its convening power and wide range of partnerships to contribute to advancing the social development agenda. The Bank has been working with several ministries, including finance, social affairs, internal/home affairs, planning, public works, natural resource management, agriculture, and national coordinating bodies for poverty reduction. For analytical work, the Bank has been partnering with academic and research networks globally and in countries. Work on fragility and conflict, gender, and climate change have involved partnerships with multilateral organizations, such as the United Nations (UN) and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), as well as bilateral development agency counterparts. Global development nongovernmental organizations, including environmental groups, indigenous peoples’ organizations, and humanitarian aid organizations are also important partners in social development work.