The World Banks decision to release millions of
internal documents will enable people to hold our feet to
the fire, the new managing director with a mandate for
openness has said.
Caroline Anstey told Emerging Markets that the Bank
was the first multilateral institution to adopt a freedom of
She revealed that the Bank plans to divert funds directly to
civil society organisations (CSOs) next year for the first
time, and will today publish its first ever corporate scorecard
to audit its own performance.
The move to open up its databanks, known as Access to
Information, will see vast quantities of back data made public
that could uncover details of past controversial projects.
The memos going backwards and forward are going to be
released, so I think citizens will have a better chance to hold
our feet to the fire and I think they should, she
Anstey also said that the Bank plans to start allocating
resources directly to CSOs as part of a radical reform of the
way the development organisation works with more troubled
The move would be the most significant transformation of the
Banks funding strategy since it set up the International
Finance Corporation (IFC) to lend to the private sector half a
If you say that citizens voice is a key part of
development, then you clearly have to reach out more to
citizens, she said. In 1944 the bank was set up to
lend to governments. We do a lot with civil society but the
money goes through governments.
It is time to say that the not-for-profit part of the
world of CSOs is a key part of development, and that we should
have some sort of CSO facility where we use bank resources
rather than money going through the government to support civil
She added: We have seen we get much better results on
our projects if we involve local beneficiaries that are often
civil society groups.
The project would fund local organisations rather
than the household-name campaign groups that are already
well-funded to provide information and carry out
monitoring on bank projects.
The move will require approval by the Banks 187
shareholder countries, some of whom might find themselves in
conflict over projects. But Anstey who moved to the
openness and accountability role two weeks ago, having been the
banks external relations chief played down fears
of rows with shareholders.
When Bank presidents go to countries, they not only
meet with civil society they often meet with parliaments.
Governments themselves are coming to appreciate the importance
of having citizen buy-in.
The new arrangement would start small and it would be
to build capacity and support local accountability
projects, she said. We do want to have
consultations with our shareholders.
Meanwhile the Bank will today submit its first ever
corporate scorecard an assessment of its own
performance to the Development Committee. It shows that
out of almost 50 indicators, only three were rated as off
track, 25 showed neither decline nor improvement while 20
were on track.