The World Bank Group is committed to become a better listener and accelerate progress in the fight to end poverty and boost shared prosperity in a sustainable and inclusive manner. Engaging citizens and mobilizing communities can help bring greater transparency, accountability, and social inclusion, thus improves development results.
Engaging citizens is especially important during times of crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic as effectiveness of the response efforts can often hinge on behavior change at the micro-level. Informing and receiving feedback from citizens in real time can provide insight into how the crisis is affecting communities and enable real-time course correction and fixing problems in fast evolving situations as well as post-crisis.
Strategic Framework for Mainstreaming Citizen Engagement
The Strategic Framework for Mainstreaming Citizen Engagement in WBG Operations was developed to more systematically mainstream citizen engagement through including beneficiary feedback in WBG-supported operations. The Strategic Framework defines citizen engagement as the two-way interaction between citizens and governments or the private sector within the scope of WBG interventions. This approach gives citizens a stake in decision-making in order to improve the intermediate and final development outcomes.
The approach to mainstreaming citizen engagement in WBG-supported operations is guided by five principles: 1) it is results-focused, 2) it involves engaging throughout the operational cycle, 3) it seeks to strengthen country systems, 4) it is context-specific, and 5) it is gradual.
The Strategic Framework builds on the WBG’s experience in multi-stakeholder engagement, citizen participation, and open and inclusive governance, as well as experiences from citizen engagement efforts around the world. The framework assesses lessons learned, and outlines methods and entry points to provide a more systematic and results-focused approach for the WBG.
Growing evidence confirms that under the right conditions, citizen engagement can help governments achieve improved development results. The framework includes a comprehensive review of existing literature that found positive links between citizen engagement and improved public service delivery, public financial management, governance, and social inclusion/empowerment.
Evidence also shows, however, that the outcomes of citizen engagement are highly context specific and sensitive to government and citizens’ capacity and willingness to engage. Effective engagement is also affected by social, political, economic, environmental, cultural, geographic and other factors, such as gender dynamics.
In practical terms, the World Bank’s citizen engagement mainstreaming commitment means that all Investment Project Financing (IPF) operations financed with IBRD loans or IDA credits must meet three requirements:
- Project design must be citizen-oriented, i.e., having at least one mechanism to engage with beneficiaries in the specific context of the project;
- Projects’ results frameworks must include a beneficiary feedback indicator to monitor citizen engagement throughout project implementation; and
- Projects must report on the beneficiary feedback indicator by the third year of implementation.