“Social accountability can help solve development challenges, and that’s why our global partners are essential to the success of the GPSA. All of us – civil society, private sector, governments, and international organizations – have to work together to put citizen engagement and social accountability at the center of the governance agenda ” - World Bank President Jim Kim at the GPSA Global Partners Forum (May 15, 2014)
A vibrant and active Partnership
On May 14 and 15, 2014, the Global Partnership for Social Accountability’s first Global Partners Forum brought together more than 200 participants representing over 165 organizations from 50 countries. The Forum was created to bring to life and mobilize the GPSA’s rapidly growing network of Global Partners – currently 180 – CSOs, academic institutions, development agencies and businesses, underscoring the strength of the World Bank’s partnership with citizen groups and other stakeholders in development.
Creating a shared vision on social accountability among a very diverse community was a specific goal of the Forum. The Forum offered participants a space to exchange experiences and opinions, to share insights, and to build a shared purpose and joint action for social accountability. The Forum also served as an opportunity to bring together all 22 GPSA grantees for an intensive Capacity Building Workshop, in the preceding days (May 12-13).
The Forum was a milestone for the GPSA. As a first event, there was an uncommon vibrancy in the audience. The Global Partners Forum leaves a legacy, as well as an immediate agenda for action, in the form of Working Groups of Global Partners and an energized and empowered Partnership.
Framing the dialogue: How do we understand social accountability?
Opening the event, Bank Vice President Sanjay Pradhan put forward “four frontiers” for work on governance issues. He highlighted the need to form coalitions and mobilize pro-poor collective action, underlining the challenge of the GPSA’s Global Partnership.
In his keynote address, Professor Jonathan Fox (American University) presented the state of research in the field of social accountability, questioning common assumptions on the effectiveness of social accountability interventions. His conclusion, that strategic rather than tactical social accountability interventions have lasting impact, informs and underlies the GPSA’s own approach.
In the highly awaited Dialogue with the President, Jim Kim laid out his vision for an expanded role of citizen engagement and social accountability in Bank operations, and challenged the GPSA’s partners and grantees to achieve success, in order to support his drive for a greater voice for civil society. He highlighted the uniqueness of the GPSA within the Bank’s structure, “a miracle”, in his words, emphasizing the responsibility of its leadership to steward the program to reach its full potential.
Networking for a shared vision on social accountability
While the GPSA may be known to many as an innovative grant-making facility for Social Accountability projects, the second pillar of the program is Knowledge, and Global Partnership is the cornerstone of the GPSA’s Knowledge strategy. Creating a shared vision among a very diverse community was a specific goal of the Global Partners Forum, while mobilizing this Partnership for action was the second objective.
According to a participant, “the Forum was one of the few events I ever attended where the networking among participants took place in the sessions themselves, rather than only in the coffee breaks”, indicating its success in building an environment for sharing.
The core of the event revolved around multiple sharing and networking sessions, focusing on “What works in Social Accountability”; “Implementing strategic Social Accountability initiatives” and “Creating a Global Partnership”. Two panels explored the themes of linking theories of change to evidence, and on building coalitions and cross-sector collaboration. Breaks and mealtimes, too, were designed as constructive networking opportunities: 14 of the World Bank’s Executive Directors and Advisors attended the lunch reception on the opening day, where they met and shared impressions with participants from their respective countries and regions. A well-attended dinner reception showcased the awardees of the GPSA’s first two grant cycles.
The GPSA’s Knowledge Platform and new program website were presented and demonstrated at the Forum and Grantee Workshop as well.
Putting the Partnership into action
Finally, the Open Forum consisted in a series of participant-organized interest groups, aimed at creating ongoing Working Groups to support the Program in key areas. Interest groups were formed around the topics of
- Political Economy Analysis
- Citizen Feedback Mechanisms
- CSO Accountability
- ICT for Social Accountability
- Organizational Sustainability
Moreover, participants discussed the formation of working groups on core support functions to GPSA operations, including Resource Mobilization, Knowledge and Partnerships. Working group rapporteurs are already engaged in supporting the Secretariat in the design of components of the Knowledge and Capacity Building strategies aimed at supporting grantees, governments and other stakeholders.
Next edition of the Forum
For many participants, the Global Partners was their first substantive engagement with the World Bank. For Partners that still considered the World Bank a mere donor, the GPSA came to be a true partnership.
It is expected the Forum take place annually and the Secretariat is actively seeking a location and co-sponsors for the next edition.
More images from the Forum - Click here
Blog coverage about the Forum
- Accountability Social é tema do Conexão Pública (Blog do Grupo de Pesquisa Politeia)
- Global Partnership for Social Accountability (GPSA) hosts the first Global Partners Forum (Mwananchi Programme blog)
- First forum Global Partnership for Social Accountability (Cordaid news)