A preview of IDA19: how ambitious are the World Bank's plans?

The draft proposals appear promising, but we hope to see much more ambition behind the policy commitments and performance targets when the draft agreement is released following October's meeting.

The International Development Association (IDA) is the World Bank Group’s concessional financing window, providing low or no interest loans and grants to the world’s poorest countries. IDA receives funding from donor countries through a replenishment process every three years. The 19th replenishment of IDA, or IDA19, kicked off in November last year in Zambia, and donors recently met for the second official meeting in Addis Ababa to discuss the policy package for IDA, as well as possible financing frameworks.

IDA’s policy package is usually framed around “special themes.” Under the heading of each special theme, donors, borrowers and Bank management will negotiate several policy commitments as well as performance targets to measure IDA’s progress toward achieving specific goals over the three year period. The special themes for IDA19 include:

  1. Climate Change
  2. Fragility, Conflict and Violence
  3. Gender and Development
  4. Governance and Institutions
  5. Jobs and Economic Transformation

These special themes remain unchanged from the IDA18 policy framework, but to better address some of the gaps and emerging challenges that IDA is facing, the IDA19 package will also include a focus on 4 additional cross-cutting issues, including:

  • Disability
  • Debt
  • Disruptive Technologies
  • Human Capital

At the Addis meeting, proposals for policy commitments and performance targets were discussed under the heading of each of these special themes. All of the proposals can be found on IDA’s website here.

The draft proposals appear promising, but we hope to see much more ambition behind the policy commitments and performance targets when the draft IDA agreement is made public following the third meeting in October. While the replenishment period is relatively short for seeing significant development gains, particularly in post-conflict countries or fragile states, IDA should nevertheless set ambitious targets that aim to address priority areas in which the World Bank is well-placed to catalyze change. A few priority areas where we would like to see improvement in the draft report in October, include:


Each of the special themes is uniquely relevant to persons with disabilities and therefore should include different, targeted objectives in order to ensure persons with disabilities can benefit from World Bank projects and access government services in these areas. Unfortunately, neither the Gender nor Climate special themes papers included specific policy commitments that address disability. This could be addressed in the draft agreement, by adding disability to existing commitments. For example, the Gender special theme includes a commitment to support at least 5 IDA countries to invest in gender-based violence (GBV) prevention and response, including “delivering safe, quality, inclusive services through health systems.” Adding “mental health services and systems” here would be an important way to make sure such systems were truly inclusive and address persons with disabilities.

Under the climate change special theme, the commitment to support 25 countries reduce risk of climate shocks by supporting Adaptive Social Protection programs, should also explicitly mention persons with disabilities, in order to ensure this often marginalized community does not fall through the cracks. Both of these changes could be made through adjusting existing commitments, rather than creating new ones. We have suggested the following language (in bold) below be added accordingly:


4. Support at least five IDA countries to invest in GBV prevention and response, delivering safe, quality, inclusive services through health systems, including mental health services and systems.


4. Support at least 25 countries to reduce the risks of climate shocks on poverty and human capital outcomes, particularly for the most marginalized including persons with disabilities, by supporting programs that incorporate Adaptive Social Protection (ASP) into national systems or reduce climate threats to health.

Climate Change

The IDA19 policy package should reflect both the urgency of the climate crisis, as well as the World Bank’s role as a leader among IFIs in driving the climate agenda forward. However, the policy commitments proposed in Addis were much less ambitious than they could be. For example, the first policy commitment under the Climate heading—to increase IDA’ climate co-benefits share to 28%--was already achieved in IDA18. And the goal to drive up climate financing and green bond markets failed to even offer a targeted percentage increase. The proposals indicated a remarkable acknowledgement that structural transformation is needed, and mentions five systems that are key in which to accelerate greener activities, including:

  1. System for clean energy
  2. Smarter urban development
  3. Sustainable land use
  4. Wise water management
  5. Circular industrial economy

However, the policy proposals did not include target for the percentage of IDA projects devoted to driving this structural transformation, or a minimum number of projects in each of these five areas. For these to be meaningful, both are necessary.

Citizen Engagement

The main proposal for a policy commitment around citizen engagement is under the Governance and Institutions special theme, which calls for supporting multi-stakeholder approaches for policy making and implementation. This commitment is extremely vague, and does not capitalize on the additionality that IDA can provide on the very important issue of citizen participation in development. Under IDA18, the World Bank committed to integrate citizen engagement and beneficiary feedback into all service delivery operations, and achieved this commitment in three years. However, the Bank’s Independent Evaluation Unit (IEG) recently published a report on the lessons from the implementation of IDA18 special themes that highlighted the need for the commitment to citizen engagement by the Bank to be both broadened and deepened. As the Bank engages more in fragile and conflict-affected states under IDA19, this commitment needs to be much more specific, and targeted for the country contexts in which the Bank is working.

We look forward to the next round of IDA discussions in October, and hope to see a much more ambitious set of commitments and performance targets that incorporate feedback from civil society and communities, and that reflect the leadership role the World Bank occupies among development financiers.