Research Summary

Accountability in the World Bank



This research, now complete, examines the roles of civil society actors in advocating for greater accountability at the World Bank at three levels of decision-making: (1) the project level, (2) the policy level, and (3) the board governance level. The research finds that civil society organizations have been fairly successful in expanding accountability at the project and policy levels, particularly through the establishment and enforcement of social and environmental safeguards, improved transparency and consultation requirements, and the creation of complaint and response mechanisms. However, these successes have been limited because accountability to affected peoples has not been well integrated into the performance incentive structure for Bank staff. Moreover, civil society has not been successful in improving board-level accountability which requires greater transparency in decision-making, more representative vote allocation, and better parliamentary scrutiny. This research provided the basis for a testimony that Professor Ebrahim delivered to the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services.