About this issue
Transparency, accountability, citizen’s voice. Like gender and anticorruption before them, these are no longer just political issues, off limits to the World Bank as a nonpolitical organization. As you will see from these pages, they are part of how we define Open Development. Bob Zoellick sees at its root a need to ”Democratize Development.” From citizen’s empowerment, to wikiresearch, to using SMS technology to monitor children’s weight, or check whether books and teachers arrive at schools, the goal is the same: to put development into the hands of people.
But it’s not just about Open Development, its also about doing development openly. That’s why the Bank’s new Access to Information policy, and its commitment not to give budget support to countries that don’t have transparent budgets, is a key part of how the Bank is approaching this agenda. And it doesn’t stop there. Open Development also means providing others with the information and the tools to assess their own development, call it Development DIY. Instead of just producing large analytical volumes, the Bank can increasingly share data and software tools, so countries and citizens can do their own analysis or double check ours. And it’s already happening. The Bank’s Open Data Initiative has released over 7,000 indicators; our economic researchers are producing free software like AdePT to allow citizens, researchers, and policymakers to analyze household surveys and undertake their own poverty assessments. This year we will be going further by releasing our economic and sector work, and related datasets, in an open access Open Knowledge Repository.
A wise old sage once said, when people come to me with a “vision” my first reaction is to recommend they see an eye doctor. This is a vision that is real. Open Development is powerful, it’s unstoppable, and it’s already transforming the way we look at development, governance, and citizens. And as it unfolds it brings with it a logic all its own. If citizens matters to development, citizen organizations matter to the World Bank, and not just in terms of the more than $30 million we already spend each year on civil society organizations through trust funds or specific project lending, but more fundamentally, and perhaps even structurally. The logic goes something like this: in 1944 the World Bank was established to lend to governments; in 1956, recognizing the importance of lending to the for-profit private sector, the Bank’s International Finance Corporation, our private-sector arm, was created. Now, recognizing the importance of the not-for-profit private sector, it could just be that it’s time for another institutional metamorphosis. As these pages show, it’s already beginning.
Vice President, External Affairs
The World Bank
Development Outreach is a flagship magazine in the field of global knowledge for development which reflects the learning programs of the World Bank and presents a range of viewpoints by renowned authors and specialists worldwide.
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