What are some key takeaways from the World Bank’s Civil Society Policy Forum?

At the 2020 Civil Society Policy Forum, BIC joined partners in urging the Bank to pursue a just recovery. Our sessions focused on centering the needs of communities in development, especially as the Bank looks to build back better in its COVID-19 recovery.

In this year’s virtual Civil Society Policy Forum (CSPF), BIC co-sponsored three sessions encouraging the Bank to invest in clean energy, support a just transition in Africa, and strengthen accountability to benefit communities. The sessions all acknowledged the challenge and opportunity presented by COVID-19 to transform the recovery so that development projects better serve communities. Below, we provide a brief description of the major takeaways from the event, as well as links to watch each session. 

Building a Fossil-Free and Just Recovery

Sponsored by several members of the Big Shift Coalition, this CSPF session focused on how the Bank can prioritize clean, renewable, and democratic energy systems that prioritize the needs and benefits of communities. Citing several recent studies by Oxfam and the Overseas Development Institute, panelists called on the Bank to increase transparency around climate finance at the project level. They recommended that the World Bank and its MDB counterparts  identify costs for project components deemed eligible for climate finance, clearly demonstrate how the allocations are calculated, and identify climate finance eligible mitigation activities and specific criteria for adaptation finance in the joint MDB methodology. Panelists underscored the urgent need to focus public finance on renewables as the most cost-effective and sustainable way to increase energy access for the poor. The IFC’s Chief Investment Officer of the Financial Institutions Group also participated in the panel, emphasizing the opportunity presented by COVID-19 to invest in a green recovery. He expressed appreciation for civil society’s engagement in pushing the institution to improve climate finance, reinforcing the importance of advocacy by BIC and partners. 

Watch the recorded session

Energy Access for a Just Recovery in Africa

This CSPF session focused on how the World Bank can improve its investment in sustainable, community-driven energy access in Africa. The Global Lead for Energy Access of the World Bank Group acknowledged that there has been continued progress towards Sustainable Development Goal 7 on universal energy access, but the progress is uneven and needs to accelerate. BIC’s Environment Director shared BIC’s analysis of the World Bank’s Energy Directions Paper. Our findings indicate that the Bank is still investing significantly in oil and gas and failing to expand renewables access sufficiently to meet the 2030 global goals. BIC also shared recommendations to strengthen renewable energy access and efficiency, while improving tracking of key performance indicators and updating its energy strategy. The session emphasized the idea that COVID-19 requires the Bank to support an economic recovery that prioritizes sustainable energy access. 

Watch the recorded session

Are the World Bank’s Accountability Systems Working for Communities?

Moderated by BIC’s Policy Director, this session highlighted the importance of accountability systems that center the needs of communities who the system was built for and who it’s meant to serve. Panelists emphasized the need for financial institutions to improve their transparency about projects, so marginalized communities can access information and find early solutions. The President of Ecosistemas Chile, who represents communities affected by Bank projects, underscored the importance of due diligence before starting a project, so MDBs can collaborate effectively with communities throughout the process. The Chair of the World Bank’s Inspection Panel echoed the difficulties for communities and clarified that independent accountability mechanisms must do better at outreach to these affected communities. Panelists also recognized the IFC accountability review, which reiterated the problems related to the lengthy accountability process, whereby communities often do not get redress in time. COVID-19 restrictions only reinforce the need for strong systems of transparency and accountability.

Watch the recorded session

BIC appreciated the opportunity to engage with Bank representatives and CSO partners in the 2020 CPSF, as we continue to advocate for the World Bank Group to pursue community-focused, inclusive, and sustainable development.

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