Friday, 5 February 2010

Public consultation on the World Bank Group Environment Strategy 2010

What should a new World Bank Group environment strategy look like? Which principles should form it? And which approach should the strategy propose to achieve the environmental sustainability of the WBG's portfolio?

To get feedback on these elements, the World Bank is currently engaging in a series of multi-stakeholder consultations, aiming at "building consensus on and ensure quality of the new Environment Strategy", to be completed and approved by December 2010.

Against this backdrop, on 2nd February 2010, ICCO hosted a multi-stakeholder public workshop with representative from the World Bank Group and some 40 participants from civil society, government and academia. The Environment Strategy Concept Note provided the basis for the discussion. Jeffrey Brez and Ywende Awe from the World Bank Group presented the main elements of the Concept Note, and explained the process that the Bank is following in order to develop its 2010 environment strategy - see their presentation.

The session proved to be very lively and interactive, with lots of inputs coming from the audience as well as from the discussants.

In particular, for Paul Wolvekamp, Deputy Director at Both ENDS, 2 key questions emerged. First and foremost, in 15/20 years, how the Bank will position itself, given the fact that its traditional line of business might get out of work? When it comes to the most pressing challenges of this century, where will the Bank find its own niche and be true to its own mission (to help people help themselves in the environment to be sustainable). Secondly, how can the Bank to allow indigenous people, farmers, women to be part of a decision making process the outcome of which will affect their future? Will the bank be able to ally itself with new partners, besides the "usual suspects"?

From his side, Prof. Ekko van Ierland (Wageningen University) thought that the public debate turned into a very productive afternoon. He stressed the importance of an ecosystem based approach for economic development and he hoped this concept will be integrated in the final World Bank environment strategy. He also commented on the initiative of the World Bank to involve multiple stakeholders in a consultative process to shape the strategy: only with public support for its activities, the Bank can play a stronger role in the future in the protection of the environment and poverty alleviation.

For Ywende Awe from the World Bank a variety of messages come up and she was very grateful for the inputs received. These include: the need to collaborate more with other development institutions; the urgency for the Bank to define the niche it wants and could fill; the importance to increase in a more structured and formal way the participation of civil society organisations in achieving environmental sustainability. In particular, the idea of an 'ecosystem based economic growth model' impressed her in a positive way, and she'll bring this back to Washington and feed it in the discussion with her colleagues at the Bank.

Lastly, Ad Ooms was very positive about the level and content of the debate, and was please that ICCO could contribute to and support the Bank public consultation by organising such an event. He also expressed ICCO interest in hosting another public workshop when a draft strategy is available.

See the video recording of the workshop.

See more video interviews with speakers at participants.

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