News & Visuals

Message from the New Inspection Panel Chair Gonzalo Castro de la Mata

​A botanist once found a beautiful flower on the side of a road. He picked it up to analyze it, pulling it apart under the microscope. When he was finished, he could tell the color of the flower, its taxonomy, and the number of stamens, pistils, petals, and bracts, but the life, the beauty, and the fragrance of the flower were gone. Likewise in development, we often forget the essence of why we are here. We analyze and dissect facts and figures, develop complex policies and procedures, but sometimes lose sight of those that we are working for.

The Inspection Panel of the World Bank was created to give a voice to people affected by projects with unintended adverse consequences. Since its inception 20 years ago, it has received close to 100 requests for inspection. As a result, redress has been provided to people, and important lessons generated for the institution. The world today, however, is fundamentally different from the one 20 years ago. Developing countries have become richer, an enormous middle class has emerged, and extreme poverty has been halved 5 years ahead of the target set in the Millennium Development Goals. This is great news for development. At the same time, many environmental and social challenges have become more urgent and acute than ever.

The World Bank continues to evolve to address these new challenges, and the Inspection Panel will continue to keep up with these changes in line with its mandate. Last year, the Panel adopted new operational procedures to sharpen its ability to provide more rapid responses, and more deliberate due-diligence up-front when a complaint is received. Similarly, and while we continue to uphold compliance review as our main accountability tool, we are also seeking early solutions for affected people where feasible. Effective accountability, however, also requires enhanced learning and incorporating of lessons emerging from our cases. Thus we have adopted more deliberate approaches to facilitate learning.

We have also strengthened our collaborative work with both external and internal stakeholders, including civil society representatives, Bank management, and affected people. These changes are intended to strengthen our commitment and dedication to the cause of affected people and to accountability more generally. They will also provide space for better redress and more proactive responses by the World Bank.

Today’s serious development challenges require a re-doubled emphasis on results and bold actions to achieve the Bank’s dual strategy of ending poverty and promoting shared prosperity. The Panel will continue to support and accompany these development goals by ensuring compliance with Bank policies and promoting accountability to its stakeholders.

Gonzalo Castro de la Mata

Chairman of the Inspection Panel

November 6, 2014