Can the World Bank promote more open governance?

Sanjay Pradhan, World Bank vice president for change, knowledge and learning. Photo by: World Bank / CC BY-NC-ND

The World Bank wants to pursue a more active role in promoting responsive governance around the world.

In order to meet this goal, the bank is pursuing a number of initiatives to help citizens and civil society better monitor government programs, services and expenditures, including open data initiatives and the Global Partnership for Social Accountability, which gives grants for NGOs to monitor public service delivery and support the capacity of governments to respond.

“The real frontier in citizen engagement and governance is to bridge the two and make sure that there is a response,” Sanjay Pradhan, World Bank vice president for change, knowledge and learning, said at a panel discussion on the sidelines of the institution’s spring meetings in Washington, D.C.

The bank, he noted, is set to release a report this June on technological solutions for “bridging the accountability gap.”

But not everyone thinks technology alone can be the solution.

Chris Underwood, director of Making All Voices Count, a global initiative to improve citizen engagement and government responsiveness, cautioned against searching for a technological fix for a problem that often has more to do with power and political economy, pointing out that many governments around the world are now facing a fundamental “crisis of legitimacy.”

For the most comprehensive coverage of the World Bank’s spring meetings, check out daily updates via Storify, and be sure to follow Devex on Twitter and Facebook. You may tweet questions and comments to our reporters Paul Stephens @pauldstephens, Michael Igoe @twigoe, Rolf Rosenkranz @devexrolf and Adva Saldinger @deveximpact.

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About the author

  • Paul Stephens

    Paul Stephens is a former Devex staff writer based in Washington, D.C. As a multimedia journalist, editor and producer, Paul has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Washington Monthly, CBS Evening News, GlobalPost, and the United Nations magazine, among other outlets. He's won a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting for a 5-month, in-depth reporting project in Yemen after two stints in Georgia: one as a Peace Corps volunteer and another as a communications coordinator for the U.S. Agency for International Development.