GPSA Interviews Robert Hunja, Director PIO at World Bank & Vice Chair of GPSA Steering Committee
As the Governance Practice of the World Bank has come into place, the GPSA asked Robert Hunja, Director of Public Integrity and Openness in the Practice for his views on social accountability, the GPSA and their role in enhancing the performance of public institutions.
Robert, what does social accountability mean to you, and why is it important?
Social accountability represents the ability for actors inside and outside the government to work together in order to ensure that countries and communities get the results they need and deserve. Many of the problems that we have nowadays occur because of governance shortcomings. While we have a solution for most of these shortcomings, the problems that come as a result of them will only get resolved when we empower citizens to provide feedback, and then connect that feedback with the right, willing actors in public institutions. While it may seem like common sense, when we work together – citizens in the public and private sectors – we are more likely to achieve a greater impact than if we were to work separately. That is why social accountability presents such a promising approach to resolving some of the most entrenched development problems that we face today.
What benefits does the GPSA offer, in the context of all that the Bank does in governance work?
The Global Partnership for Social Accountability plays a crucial role in the context of the World Bank’s governance efforts. At the World Bank, we believe that citizen-centric development is not simply something we should aspire to but it should actually be the foundational principle of everything that we do. When we speak about governance, we always have to speak about openness and about citizens being at the center of the decision-making processes that affect them. In this regard, GPSA is essential as it plays a key and complementary role in the World Bank- on top of the Bank’s government loans and private sector support - to become a mechanism which directly builds the capacity of civil society to play a constructive role in the improvement and enhancement of country systems. A stronger, more capable civil society, which has the ability and disposition to work with governments, is key to creating governance environments that will foster development for all.
As Director, you are leading the Bank’s work on Public Integrity and Openness, as well as overseeing the GPSA. How do you see the role of enhancing citizen voice in making public institutions perform better?
We live in a world in which openness is no longer an option for public institutions, but a requirement to ensure efficiency and effectiveness. For public institutions to perform at their best, they have the responsibility and the opportunity to engage the citizens they serve. Citizen engagement allows public institutions to more quickly measure their performance and adapt their efforts, and it allows them to ensure that they are responsive of citizens’ true needs and desires. As public institutions become more open, we can create incentives for positive change that ultimately benefit both the institutions and the citizens.