News & Visuals

Spring Meetings High Level Session : Accountability for Better Development Outcomes - A Conversation with Government, Industry and Civil Society

TheInspection Panel(IPN) and theCompliance Advisor Ombudsman(CAO) hosted a high level session on April 16 during the2015 WBG/IMF Spring Meetings titled “Accountability for Better Development Outcomes: A Conversation with Government, Industry and Civil Society”. The panel was co-chaired by Gonzalo Castro de la Mata (Chairman, Inspection Panel) and Osvaldo Gratacós (Vice President, CAO) and had participation of Ambassador Miguel Castilla (Former Finance Minister, Peru), Ray Offenheiser (President, Oxfam America), and Deirdre White (CEO, PYXERA Global). There were some 80 WBG staff, CSO representatives, government officials, and other stakeholders in attendance, and the session was webcast live. The session began with a video welcome from Jim Yong Kim (President, WBG), who noted that while international development requires risks, we need to ensure that the poor and vulnerable do not bear the costs of these risks and provide people with the right to seek recourse. The objective of this session was to promote a discussion between government, civil society, and private sector leaders around their distinct experiences in managing risks, promoting accountability, and identifying opportunities for improved development outcomes.

The panelists were asked to respond to three questions: i) how can we ensure that the consequences of development risks are not shouldered by the poor; ii) can accountability actually improve development results, and if so share experiences of effective accountability from each sector; and iii) how will accountability evolve going forward, especially in light of the Sustainable Development Goals. Ray began by stating that the WBG needs to live up to its own standards and highlighted a report “Suffering of Others” just launched by Oxfam which show cases where the Bank did not adequately recognize risks or address problems experienced by numerous communities affected by IFC financing. He reiterated that the role of the IPN and CAO is not to promote development results, but to ensure that its safeguard policies are closely enforced. Raynoted that Oxfam has been interacting with the IPN and CAO staff over the years and appreciates the quality and independence of their work, and called for the Bank to continue supporting both compliance mechanisms through adequate funding levels.

Ambassador Castilla responded to the guiding questions by stating that governments need to ensure that the benefits of development accrue to the poor. He shared examples from Peru where large mining projects were successfully (Arequipa) and not so successfully (Cajamarca) implemented due to proactive strategies, front-loading benefits, and managing risks. He added that the Peruvian government has several tools to promote accountability on extractive industries including online access to information, participation in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), and enabling citizen’s environmental auditing. He cautioned, however, that promoting accountability is a means to improve development and not an end in itself, and thus it should be implement in a flexible and smart fashion.

Deirdre talked about the need to transform risks into opportunities, and shared examples from Angola where oil companies worked to build the capacity of local companies. She noted that companies often don’t go back to the communities to monitor how large projects have been implemented and how they have impacted local communities. In terms of the future of accountability within the SDGs process, she expressed concern that there may be too many goals and they will be difficult to achieve by 2030.

These presentations were followed by a question and answer period. Issues brought up included: an IPN case in Ethiopia involving human rights abuses; the merits of pursuing redress vs. mediation approaches in complex cases; role of social media in increasing government accountability; merits of creating a compensation fund that communities could access; and lack of full community redress in an IPN case in Honduras. For more information on the session view the full taped sessionhere. See more photos on the session atFacebook.