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Making the Third Sector Heard 01.05.1997

NGO News, a Regional Newsletter for Non-Governmental Organizations, lehekülg 24

International Financial Institutions (IFIs) now exercise substantial influence over the pats of development for the countries of CEE. Yet these institutions, which have taken over positions previously held by national bodies, are not subject to national regulation. They are governed jointly by a vast number of member states and are operated according to internal policies.

While IFIs such as World Bank should theoretically be accessible to input from non-profits, their local staff members have generally not had training to work with NGOs or grassroots groups.

CEE Bankwtach Network, a network which maintains a regular policy dialogue with the World Bank and other IFIs in the region, has launched an ongoing initiative to make the local offices of World Bank more accessible to the NGO community and citizens of Central and Eastern Europe.

The campaign began with a questionnaire. Sent to NGOs which had been in contact with a local World Bank office, it included questions on the Bank’s disclosure policy, on local staff members’ willingness to seek public participation on projects, and on other issues of interest to NGOs. Non-profits from 9 countries replied to the questionnaire. Their responses confirmed the communication problem suspected by Bankwatch.

Upon presenting the results to the World Bank, three Bankwatch representatives were invited to give a presentation. They did so at the seminar in October 1996, presenting a list of suggestions about how World Bank offices can become more open and useful to civil societies in borrowing countries. These concrete suggestions were then handed to representative of the World Bank’s headquarters, who promised to distribute them to all of the region’s local offices. Although the network had the opportunity to distribute the list to these offices by itself, it chose to accept the Bank’s offer in order to ensure that the local offices take the suggestions seriously.

The network followed up on the initiative a few months later, contacting a high-ranking official at the bank who was known to be open to discussion with NGOs. Impressed by their suggestions, she distributed their two-page list to all local World Bank offices around the world.

The CEE Bankwatch Network’s regional initiative has since grown broader.

Bankwatch has followed up with a still more comprehensive questionnaire about the World Bank’s openness to the third sector, as has expanded its campaign to include other IFIs.