Feedback needed from civil society on a proposed Global Partnership for Enhanced Social Accountability
Recent events in the Middle East and North Africa have compelled leaders of global institutions and heads of government to rethink the way they do business. There seems to be momentum building around new ways of involving non-state actors and especially civil society organisations with a view to bridge the gaps and disconnects between citizens and governance. One such initiative seems to be emerging from the World Bank. In the immediate aftermath of the uprisings in North Africa, President of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick, in a lecture at the Peterson Institute for International Economics on 6 April 2011, conceded that participation of civil society in development processes at national level has a positive impact on public service delivery and developmental outcomes1.
Following Mr. Zoellick’s address, the World Bank Group has come up with a new initiative entitled Global Partnership for Enhanced Social Accountability with the stated ambition of “strengthening beneficiary feedback and participation by supporting civil society capacity to engage with governments to improve development effectiveness.” To help formulate this partnership, the World Bank Group is currently carrying out consultations at country and regional levels to obtain feedback from civil society and other stakeholders.
The on-going consultations are aimed at collating feedback on the nature and type of support that the proposed partnership can offer to assist civil society in dealing with current challenges and the role of the World Bank in providing this support. The consultations also seek to clarify possible criteria that can be used to identify those who will represent civil society in the partnership; the potential risks involved and the impact the partnership will have on developmental outcomes.
CIVICUS joined the consultation, held in Johannesburg on 7 February 2012, with World Bank Officials and a number of civil society representatives from the Southern African region including civil society groups from Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. A summary of feedback from these and other consultations held in different regions around the globe is expected to be posted online. More consultations on the operationalisation of the partnership are expected to run from May to June.
There is no denying that this proposed partnership is timely and arises from the recognition that governments and intergovernmental bodies cannot continue business as usual. It is also true that this is yet another initiative that needs to prove whether it works and delivers on its promises. In any case, it’s critical that citizens and civil society organisations have their say now in how this partnership is formulated. Hence we strongly encourage you to provide your feedback online as part of the consultation and send the completed form to gpesa[at]worldbank.org.
1For more information on Zoellick’s lecture, see The Middle East and North Africa: A New Social Contract for Development.