NGO that Participated: The World Bank Must Adopt the Concept of “Integrated Development” Instead of the Logic of “Priorities”
The undersigned civil society organizations took part in consultative talks held by the World Bank with various parties in Egypt, as it seeks to solicit opinions on Egypt’s Country Partnership Framework for 2015–19, which governs the Bank’s policies Egypt.
The undersigned organizations welcome the World Bank’s move to open up a dialogue on its policies, and were especially pleased that the talks were held with organizations and experts in the governorates of Cairo, Alexandria and Aswan, rather than simply the capital. Nevertheless, these talks will not bear real fruit without channels for serious dialogue with the government as well, the Bank’s main partner in drafting and implementing the framework for cooperation.
We wish to make several observations with regard to the content, process and efficacy of the consultations:
The schedule for talks was not released sufficiently in advance, and the consultations included numerous members of the private sector and representatives of business association, particularly in Cairo. The next time such talks are organized, the World Bank should make a greater effort to better represent Egyptian civil society and to announce the talks through multiple channels well in advance.
There was no substantive discussion of the orientation or preliminary points of the Country Partnership Framework, which should first be presented by the World Bank Group to the attendees. Instead, the discussion began immediately with attendees being asked about their visions for sectorial priorities in the Country Partnership Framework, followed by a vote on the order of these priorities. This style greatly limited the effectiveness of the talks since it did not open up a genuine space to debate and discuss the work of the World Bank, its development model or the problems with this model. In addition, using a vote as a way to organize priorities is misplaced. Attendees were not representative of all of society and their composition was clearly reflected in the outcome of the vote. It would have been better to open up a free discussion to allow an exchange of opinions and ideas, without a vote whose results are determined by the number of attendees and their own leanings.
The stance of civil society was made clear in the round of talks held in Alexandria on 19 June. Civil Society attendees proposed the principle of integrated development as an alternative to the logic of priorities. Integrated development is based on creating full opportunity for the community through linking education, health and jobs that guarantee workers their full rights with the nature of planning and project management in the framework of sectorial integration. Moreover, what the World Bank identified as “priorities” involve problems in every sector, such as labor issues, social justice and environmental problems.
Civil society organizations stressed the importance of this integrated outlook in guaranteeing human rights and generating equal, effective development. Projects cannot be funded without guarantees for labor rights and against environmental harm through a comprehensive assessment of the environmental map in Egypt. This requires the World Bank, in this stage of exploratory research, to engage in a comprehensive, fair review from a rights perspective, to avoid funding projects that involve the same problems seen in past projects.
Civil society insisted that the World Bank should use the terms “clean energy-generating projects” or “renewable energy-generating project” rather than “energy-generating projects.” It also emphasized the importance of the right to social protection and the right to social security, which entails changes to the World Bank’s modus operandi. These concepts imply an end to the creation of poverty, as opposed to “Social Safety Nets” , which do no more than combat the poverty arising from a model of development characterized by structural and rights-based problems. The concept of social safety nets, adopted by the World Bank as a major tool to mitigate poverty, does not concord with a comprehensive rights perspective, which is based on ending poverty creation itself. In fact, it shows how the World Bank clings to a model of development that treats poverty as a natural result of development; addressing poverty in this view is based on the idea of charity instead of built on a foundation of human rights standards. In addition, targeting methods may be flawed and ineffective given poor management and the spread of poverty in Egypt. Indeed, some specialized reports have found that the right to social security and a coverage model based on comprehensive entitlement—that is programs and benefits guaranteed to every human being by international standards and conventions—is often more appropriate for combating poverty in this case.
The World Bank stated during the talks that all documents and studies that reach it are available on its site to foster communication on the Country Partnership Framework, and its team recorded all points and opinions offered during the talks. Nevertheless, the undersigned organizations believe that the fears of civil society in regards to the effectiveness of the dialogue are well placed, since there is no mechanism to guarantee the enforcement of the dialog’s recommendations. In addition, there was insufficient time to speak with the World Bank’s team during the talks about real problems in its operating methods, its model of development and the concepts it employs.
Civil society is waiting for the World Bank to announce a mechanism for a continued dialogue on ways to apply the recommendations made by civil society participants and solve the problems they raised. It should be noted as well that several problems were not seriously addressed in the talks, such as models for public- and private-sector cooperation, issues with the nature of the jobs created by the World Bank loans and the degree to which the World Bank ensures the fulfillment of standards of respect for the rights of workers and the poor in projects funded by the World Bank.
- Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights
- Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights
- The Egyptian Center for Civil and Legislative Reform
- Egyptian Association for Collective Rights
- Housing and Land Rights Network- Habitat International Coalition
- National Community for Human Rights and Law