Volunteer campaigners Ellie Wason and Hannah Lathan have just attended the RESULTS International Conference (22-25 July) in Washington DC, as part of which they took part in an advocacy meeting at the World Bank.
At the grassroots advocacy level, lobbying our local MPs in the UK, it is easy to feel a disconnect with international processes in the development world, especially when organisations such as the United Nations and the World Bank are based in the US. Our grassroots work at RESULTS, however, is often shaped by the work of these organisations: this is through both the UK government’s multilateral agreements with them, and their huge resources and therefore power in the development sector. Their programmes, pledges and policies define a large amount of development progress across the world.
The World Bank, based in Washington DC, has particular leverage in global development as the world’s largest development institution. It is made up of 5 sub-institutions, each with a different focus, which range from providing countries with finance for development projects at both market and low (concessional) interest rates, mobilising investment in the private sector, and giving grants to low-income countries. One of these institutions, IDA (International Development Association) focuses mainly on low-income countries, and aims to reduce poverty and inequalities, and improve people’s living conditions. More generally, the World Bank’s aims include ending extreme poverty and promoting shared prosperity by increasing the incomes of the poorest people. These missions are of interest to and align closely with RESULTS’ aims of bringing an end to poverty. Therefore RESULTS engages in advocacy around the World Bank's policy and practices.
At the RESULTS international conference, RESULTS UK met with the UK Executive Director’s office at the World Bank. The meeting covered a range of topics including education, our work on climate risk insurance, the Global Financing Facility (GFF) and transitioning countries. Our education aim at RESULTS is to ensure inclusive and equitable education which includes the achievement of SDG4 and ‘free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education’ by 2030. This requires a strong, and well-financed, public education system which is designed around the principles of leaving no one behind. It is especially important to talk with the World Bank about these issues now as there is an anticipated increase in resources in IDA.
With regards to climate risk insurance, we set out to understand where the Bank stands in adopting the 'pro-poor principles' that RESULTS UK has developed. These are vital to protect the most vulnerable people from the effects of climate change through insurance.
As part of our meeting, we also hoped to influence the World Bank to increase its engagement and support for GFF, which aims to improve outcomes for the health of women and children. Furthermore, we wanted to better understand the role that the World Bank plays in mitigating effects of countries whose incomes grow, making a transition of classification from low to middle income status, and as a result are facing a potential simultaneous withdrawal of financial support from donors. Part of this involved examining what policies and plans it has in place so RESULTS can offer recommendations for improvements.
Meeting with World Bank staff was an incredible opportunity for us. Even entering the magnificent headquarters and donning our ID badges was exciting, but being able to talk face to face with representatives of the organisation, make our case for RESULTS’ anti-poverty agenda, and ask questions to people with influence over the global development agenda, was an experience we’ll never forget.
As grassroots advocates, it’s vital that we understand the World Bank as an important actor in global development, to be able to effectively engage with its work and influence its views on development issues. Our visit showed that even as volunteers, we can have our voices heard on the global stage.