Bretton Woods Project - Critical voices on the World Bank and IMF

Jump to main content | Jump to sidebar | Jump to navigation menu



UK announces priorities for World Bank

News|Bretton Woods Project|14 September 2011|update 77|url
print|email |bookmark FacebookTweet thisdel.icio.usDigg!Stumble UponRedditGoogle BookmarksYahoo Buzz

In August, the UK Department for International Development (DFID) released its new priorities for reform of the World Bank: UK engagement with the World Bank Group 2011/12. The priority list does not include an assessment of past performance, as it is the first released by the new Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition government that took office in 2010. This will continue the previous Labour government’s recent tradition of reporting annually against its objectives for the Bank. Until 2007, the UK had released a three year institutional strategy for the Bank, and reported annually against that.

It follows DFID’s assessment of the Bank as part of its multilateral aid review (MAR, see Update 75). Three of the five issues that have defined DFID’s recent approach to the Bank, as set out in the MAR, are confirmed: results and efficiency; fragile states; and climate change. The two others have narrowed down broad areas to a more specific focus: the private sector has changed into the International Finance Corporation’s (IFC’s) poverty focus; and more substantively, gender has become “enhanced impact on the off-track MDGs [Millennium Development Goals] including girls and women.”

Despite claiming a focus on results, most of the 17 specific objectives are process linked, and few contain much substantive detail. For example, one objective is to make sure “a strong, convincing WDR [World Development Report] on Gender is published”, without any indication of what a “strong, convincing” WDR would look like, or how that could be used to improve performance on women’s rights at the Bank.

In other areas, where the targets are more outcome focussed, there is frequently a lack of detail that leaves them open to a wide degree of interpretation. On energy, for example, DFID wants the Bank to “move away from lending for fossil fuels” and says the Bank should have “stretching targets for clean energy lending” in its new strategy, without saying what these targets should be. The UK had previously pushed for 60 per cent of World Bank energy lending to be for clean energy (see Update 67), though without specifying how it would overcome the controversial methods used by the Bank to calculate what counts as ‘clean’ energy (see briefing).

The overall perspective represents a vote of confidence in existing Bank structures and reform processes, with many of the objectives related to ensuring ongoing Bank reforms work well. There are no signs yet of the government having developed an independent agenda for change at the Bank. For the first time, there are also no objectives for or mentions of the ongoing governance problems at the Bank (see Update 77, 70), though the rising influence of middle-income countries is mentioned.

Some themes do emerge. Despite the Bank’s chequered history and recent slump in performance in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA, see Update 77, 76), the document supports an active policy of Bank engagement in the region, frequently encouraging it to do more. Though the private sector is not a standalone objective, it is a recurring theme. For example, one DFID objective is that “the IFC develops a new conflict and fragile states strategy and scales up its activities in conflict and fragile states.” Despite criticisms of the overemphasis that the Bank has placed on the private sector’s role in healthcare provision (see Update 66, 65), the UK wants the Bank to develop “innovative ways of working with the private sector” on health. It also pushes for “greater private sector leverage and innovation in technology and financial instruments” for the Climate Investment Funds (CIFs), housed at the Bank (see briefing).

Published: 14 September 2011 , last edited: 16 September 2013

Viewings since posted: 4131

Articles: 3465

Advanced article search
Search newswire and resources

New website launched

You are now browsing an archive version of the Bretton Woods Project's website. This site has not been updated since September 2013, but may be used for reference material as the nbew site is being developed. However we suggest you look at the new website:
http://www.brettonwoodsproject.org/

Recent briefings & reports

Memorandum to the International Development Committee: Inquiry on the Future of UK Development Cooperation  26 June 2013

The Doing Business review: a test of World Bank leadership 24 June 2013

Climate Investment Funds Monitor 7: April 2013  25 April 2013

Working paper: The private sector and climate change adaptation: International Finance Corporation investments under the Pilot Program for Climate Resilience  24 April 2013

The UK's role in the World Bank and IMF: Department for International Development and HM Treasury  13 March 2013

World Bank on jobs: a "significant departure" or "business as usual"? 13 February 2013

No item found

Latest IFI-related video

The World Bank and human rights abuse in Honduras 7 August, Social Justice Committee of Montreal

Subscribe

Bretton Woods Update, 6 emails/year:
highlights fulltext pdf
Alerts of new web content
Weekly newswire email

Email:


Bretton Woods Project on Facebook


home | subscribe | donate | search | help | contact


validate: | XHTML | CSS | RSS

powered by Action Apps | hosted by GreenNet | Credits