The Bank Information Center (BIC) partners with civil society in developing and transition countries to influence the World Bank and other international financial institutions (IFIs) to promote social and economic justice and ecological sustainability. BIC is an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organization that advocates for the protection of rights, participation, transparency, and public accountability in the governance and operations of the World Bank Group and regional development banks.
The above mission rests on the core premise that socially and environmentally sustainable development is not possible without the informed and active participation of local communities. All too often, powerful interests prevent local voices from shaping development policy and projects. Many of the current economic and social crises affecting the world’s poor are in large part a result of their marginalization. By opening political space around development decision-making, BIC aims to ensure that local communities and civil society organizations have an important voice in decisions that affect them. BIC assists these groups through its information dissemination and capacity building activities, coalition building, project and policy monitoring, and advocacy support services.
BIC is supported by private foundations and organizations that work in the fields of environment and development. BIC is not affiliated with any of the Multilateral Development Banks, nor does it receive any funding from them.
Working to Democratize Development
BIC’s work focuses on four essential elements to democratizing decision making within powerful public institutions:
Protecting economic, social, cultural, and environmental rights, in part by promoting greater consistency between IFI safeguards and international law, standards, and norms.
Promoting enhanced access to information by building civil society networks interested in access to information at the IFIs, promoting transparency at the regional development banks and strengthening recourse mechanisms available to the public when information is denied.
Holding IFIs accountable by strengthening and extending the mandates of the World Bank Inspection Panel and internal accountability mechanisms at other IFIs, while at the same time promoting alternative channels of accountability.
Demanding greater opportunities for civic engagement by evolving a set of lessons learned, principles, and guidelines that can help civil society set the terms of engagement in future IFI project and policy processes.
BIC is a principal source of information for affected communities, non-governmental organizations and grassroots groups working to address the negative impacts of economic globalization. BIC is also a resource for government employees, IFI staff, the media, students, and the general public.
BIC program activities are largely determined by the needs and demands of civil society organizations in the Global South. While the political and institutional landscape in which BIC operates continues to change, the basic services and reform efforts that have characterized BIC’s mission and strategy remain critical. BIC pursues its mission through three major strategies: (i) information services and capacity building; (ii) project and policy monitoring; and (iii) policy reform of the MDBs. These strategies require our persistent engagement with NGOs and grassroots social movements around the world to support their efforts to participate in and influence development decisions.
Our services and tools include:
Popular education materials, including the World Bank Toolkit for Activists and the Guide to Understanding the Asian Development Bank
Access to hard-to-obtain project documents and other information on the international financial institutions
Country and policy updates, for example the Extractive Industries Review Update
Analytical work on key developments within the institutions and case studies of problem projects
Strategic support for monitoring individual projects and policies, for example the Chad-Cameroon Oil Development and Pipeline Project and the Southern Transport Development Project in Sri Lanka
Policy analysis and advocacy to promote rights, transparency, accountability and participation within the operations and governance of the institutions
Where is Bank Information Center (BIC)