Social Dimensions of Development Effectiveness
While the social dimensions of development are broad, the World Bank has adapted the following operational principles to promote social development: putting people in the center of development ("inclusion"), strengthening the social fabric of communities so that their members can work together ("cohesion"), and finding ways for people to exercise their voice to authorities ("accountability").
We are developing tools that support the 3 principles not only in project preparation but also on project implementation and monitoring.
So I think that we can change the way the World Bank is done. I am saying that because we have seen some very positive changes in the last ten years, but I hope you all will keep us honest in this, if you do feel that all we are doing is providing a veneer, I would like to be the first to know.
Now, any government I think is interested in development. So what we need to show is that inclusion, cohesion and accountability helped get development done in a better way. So at least in Indonesia, that has been the result I think of the Kecataman development program, and I hope that -- that is what we do in many countries, we do start -- sometimes we start at the grassroots level, working with people directly in terms of showing you can actually get water supplies systems, better education systems, by taking these things into account. And gradually convincing the government. It is also important to say that many governments in the world actually believe and espouse these principles and are ahead of the World Bank often and pushing us to say why aren't you doing more. It is not obviously a one size fits all. But we have had good results even in difficult circumstances by relying directly on the ingenuity, and the will of people to improve their own lives with a little bit of outside support.
The commitment of the Bank in social projects and poverty alleviation can not be doubted.
Still, I have a little concern : it seems as if the Bank projects are always carried out ex-post, after recipient countries have already signed ultra-liberal agreements with the IMF.
Mr Director, is your institution not just behaving as a 'fireman', whose role is to provide good conscience to the most industrialized countries of this world, since those countries are in majority (in the decision-making) in the Bank, but are the same ones designing ultra-liberal policies through the IMF and the WTO ?
Thanks and regards.
L'engagement de la Banque dans les projets sociaux et de réduction de la pauvreté ne saurait être mis en doute. Seulement, il me semble que cet engagement intervienne ex-post, après que les Etats bénéficiaires ont pour la plupart signé des accords ultralibéraux avec le FMI.
Monsieur le Directeur, cette postériorité des actions que vous menez ne confine-t-elle pas votre institution à un rôle de 'sapeur-pompier', dont le but est finalement de donner bonne conscience aux grands pays industrialisés, majoritaires (dans la décision) dans la Banque, mais par ailleurs apôtres de l'ultralibéralisme à travers le FMI et l'OMC ?
Je vous remercie
I had some personal experience being involved in one of these exercises in Zambia, in Africa, and it's been very impressive how strong -- the strong involvement of civil society has meant that the process has led to a very open discussion about the likely effects of the reforms. Now, the danger of such study, such reports, is obviously that that is all they become, a study, a report, but we are actually seeing many governments taking these results and saying to the IMF or to the World Bank or to the World Trade Organization, well, listen, maybe we should be thinking about these things again, maybe we should be reconsidering some of them. So, obviously there is a danger that we could just become a fireman or the veneer or whatever we want to call it, but that is very much why we are saying we want to be not only involved in all the projects and all the things that happen at the grassroots level, we want to be involved at the macro level when the decisions are played, and we actually have actually seen some very positive experiences in the last years that shows when you do think about social issues up front as part of the macroeconomic dialogue, it is possible to change the policy framework, it is possible to make sure that the policy framework has better results for the poor and marginalized.
Now again, I hope that you all out there will keep us honest on this, and will keep pointing out to us when we are not successful. Hopefully you will also tell us a little bit about when we are successful, but it is very important that, again, transparency is essential in this. You need to help keep us accountable, just like we are expecting governments to allow themselves to be held accountable.
Some of the ways we are trying to look at society-generated barriers to inclusion is, for instance, things that sound very simple but have profound implications, like counting people, there is a big workshop that is called "we all count". It sounds much better in Spanish, but the workshop was about how do we make sure we for instance count people of Afro-descended populations, we can count people of indigenous descent in Latin America. So we know how are they getting access to resources, who are they, how many are there, and so on. These things are very important in terms of disaggregating the Millennium Development Goals. The Millennium Development Goals, as you all know, are about a set of internationally agreed targets. But what we would argue is, it's not enough to reach those on average, you need to look at individuals and see how do we get to those individuals with those services, how do those individuals make their voices known so that there is accountability also to them.
I have been fortunate to meet with a number of indigenous leaders recently and what I am hearing from many of them is not protection, we do not want to be protected, what we want is development on our terms, very much, we want development with self respect, and we are working with them on trying to find ways of how can we work with governments and them, not to protect them, but to get development on their terms with self respect. So I think that the best way forward is by doing the kind of things we proposed in the strategic priorities, which is to make sure that social issues are dealt with at the macro policy level, like the previous question discussed, at the project specific intervention level, so that the voices of the marginalized are heard, and by free standing programs, that's the third point, and of free standing programs that allow marginalized people to directly benefit, and there are a number of programs we are supporting, for instance, in Ecuador, for indigenous people on this.
So I think it requires actions on all those three fronts and I know what our Latin America colleagues are working on is very much this, how do you make sure that cohesion, accountability and inclusion permeates everything we do. There is not one silver bullet. It will have to take action on all of the strategic priorities that we outline in our document.
I think it is more -- the challenge now is exactly what type of analysis under what kinds of circumstances gets the best outcomes, not necessarily a yes no. That is linked to the second part of the question, how do you encourage the level of trust and mutual respect? Again, my answer is simplistic -- hopefully not simplistic but simple -- it is that what is required is that you need to show it works, you need to show that working together you get better results than working against each other. Now, in some societies -- it is so unequal that it requires additional interventions. But I think there as a development agency, all development agencies, we have an obligation to do what I would call pre-investment activities. We anyway do pre-investment activities to make sure we have the design right of the road, that we know exactly, you know, how the water is going to flow through the pipes, what is the right dimensions of the pipes. Similarly I think we need to realize that at times you need to do pre-investment activities, for instance, in community facilitation, in taking people to other communities that have done these things, and you need to work on the enabling environment in the country. That is why we talk a lot about the macro level, the policy level in the strategic priorities, to make sure that it is actually possible for people to come together, make sure there aren't things in the system that try to prevent people from coming together and working on it.
So to the critics who argue that social development is basically an advocacy exercise, I would say come join me in a few communities, come with me to villages in Zambia, to urban slums in Brazil, to mountain tribal people in Nepal, and you will hear from the people themselves that by taking these things into account up front and following through on it all the way, you are going to get better results and not just sort of a nice slogan to put on a poster and some beautiful pictures to put up on a website. I think that is the challenge to all of us, to really open up and listen to the people, to the affected people, and see what they are saying, and when you see the pride in their eyes, when you see the things they have done, not easily, through struggles, yes, then that is the best convincing and the best argument. Sorry to say to our colleagues in the Operations Evaluations Department, but I think it works even better than their very convincing data.
However -- so that is one view. The other view is that, well, we have a responsibility to the poor of the world, that governments also share, so we can work with governments on, again, providing the enabling environment so there is greater scope for governments and people in those countries to work together to reach social development goals. At least so far -- but the bottom line is that at least so far we have not had negative feedback on the principles or that these are important for poverty reduction. The discussion is much more about how and what is the division of labor between governments and outside agencies, such as the World Bank, and I think that relates to one of the earlier questions, that talked about the dominance in the Bank's governance of the rich countries. I think some of the representatives of governments in developing countries would politely but firmly disagree with that point.
We are seeing here at the World Bank a very positive trend like we are seeing worldwide of developing countries standing up and staying this is what we believe in and these are our priorities, now let's work on them, but based on a very strong statement. So even though votes on paper have not changed, we certainly have heard the voices of developing country governments much more clearly in the last couple of years.
I think the whole road toward modernization -- let me come back to the leaders of indigenous peoples that I have talked to in the last year and a half. They are actually saying they feel we can get development, with a new definition of modernization, that do respect their values, their fundamental beliefs, and that's what they are asking of development agencies, of governments today.
It is not for us to invent those solutions but for us to support the invention of such solutions by the people affected, and this cuts across whether or not we talk about indigenous people, ethnic minorities, or even the majority in many countries that are women, of how you move this forward. So with the caveat that we should not -- that sometimes we may want to provide the space to change some values -- I think it is possible to respect values in doing development if it is done based on the principles of cohesion, inclusion and accountability.
First, on mainstreaming, where we have come the furthest is mainstreaming at the project level and there it is really a question of completing the task. Most projects today do social analysis. Most projects have some form of participation in them. So the traditional projects, we have come a long way. What we are talking about here is really doing it in a more effective, more locally-led way, so instead of the experts doing the social analysis, that you base the social analysis on people's own perceptions and views and aspiration. So we are here talking about minor adjustments to complete the mainstreaming, and we are not proposing anything new. We are proposing to do the things we do today but do them in a better, more effective, more efficient manner.
Where there is much more left to finish is at the macro level, at the policy level, and this is where our first strategic priorities paper speaks about. Here we are fortunate that we have had positive beginnings. We have seen more participation in PRSP, the Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers, than we saw in previous attempts at developing national strategies. We have seen more participation in the development of the Bank's country assistance strategies than we have seen in the past. So on the process side, again it is more a question of completing it and making it better. I don't think anyone would argue that the situation in poverty reduction strategy papers, for instance, is perfect, but I think -- or I know -- that many of us will argue that it is much better than we have had in the past, and as long as we can keep each other focused on improving it, we have a good chance.
On other macro policy issues, it is very much a matter of getting the analysis done, understanding upstream what is going to be the impact, to do poverty and social impact analysis, to understand the social context in the country in which the World Bank is supporting policy changes. So that those policy changes would really have the maximum positive benefits for poor people who would otherwise be excluded or might actually be harmed otherwise.
So I think we have a set of tools available at the macro policy level as well. The challenge will be to really take them on and move forward. This does mean that every World Bank staff has to know enough about social development to actually be cognizant of the fact. Obviously they cannot be experts. We do need to protect the cadre of experts we have in the Bank and in developing countries themselves to do this, but there is a mind set change or building on the mind set change that we already have, that is important, and that mind set change is that social development matters and you get better results even in narrowly defined -- better water supply, the water will flow, be better sustained, if you take care of social development issues and principles upstream.
We are currently in the process inside the World Bank of working through this, in terms of what exactly each regional office, each office in the Bank will do differently, more of, less of, stop doing, to try and promote this, but I would very much encourage anyone with specific suggestions of things that you have seen work, not work, be productive, be counterproductive, whatever, to please join again the ongoing dialogue and help us point these out because we all know that things look differently sitting in an office in Washington and sitting in another country or actually being faced with the kind of interventions that the World Bank is supporting.
I would question that dams and highways only displace indigenous people. I have heard a lot of indigenous people that would like roads to go close to their roads, to enable them to get their production out, to enable them to participate in the market on their own terms. If you think about the number of people in the world that are without energy, I think we have to be careful not to exclude those from energy, sitting here in developed countries, using lots of energy every day. We should be careful not to judge others and say you don't really need energy, and, therefore, you shouldn't build a dam.
What I completely agree with is promoting social development principles forces you to ask those questions, how do we make sure that the large infrastructure projects help people. Certainly they should not harm them and we have safeguard policies in place that protect people from harm. The first principle of development should be do no harm. But we are coming to the conclusion that is not enough. How do you make sure that the large dam brings benefit to the people around it, not just that it does not hurt them.
Similarly, I would not completely throw out market economics. I think anyone who has lived under the previous socialist systems would argue that there is a role for the free market. There are things that the market can do. What I think we have to guard against is the naive motion that the market can do everything, but neither can the state do everything and certainly someone like me always needs reminding that neither can communities do everything, people themselves.
So I think we are today in a much more exciting, but much more messy world, where the black and white of the past are all shades of gray today. There are very few completely free market economies, very free completely state controlled economies, and there are none that run exclusively on individual action.
So my argument would be that we need to promote as an institution dams, highways, infrastructure, and free market economies under the principles of inclusion, accountability and cohesion, because then they are going to work for everyone. It is not enough to say that social development works. It is important to say that social development makes other development interventions work for all people or at least for more people. So we did do a careful review of the World Bank policies. We did not find anything in the policies that would prevent us from going forward. In fact, many of the World Bank's lending policies, and these are available on the World Bank's Internet site, do promote exactly these same principles, whereas our principles on poverty reduction, on gender, they all have very clear language about this.
The challenge, like many of you pointed out in this discussion, is how do we turn this into practical actions, and that is very much the challenge behind the development of the strategic priorities. How do you make sure they are not just pretty words but actually the next time if we should be supporting a dam or a highway, that it actually benefits people, and benefits people that would otherwise be displaced. One last thing on free market principles. What we are promoting is very similar. We are saying you need a level playing field not only on economics but also on social issues. We are saying today the market for information is not a level playing field. The rich and powerful have access to the decision-makers. They make their voices known. Our job as outside agencies is to make sure that other voices are heard in that debate, that also the voices of the poor are heard, that the voices of the marginalized are heard so we create a more level playing field. So this is a distortion of free market economics that some economists may not appreciate but it is very clear that the basic principle applies of equal access to opportunities for all.
Thank you for taking part in the discussion. Many of the resources mentioned by Steen Jorgensen are available on the World Bank's website:
- World Bank Social Development website
- World Bank Social Development Strategy
- Operations Evaluation Department Review of Social Development in World Bank Activities