Response from the World Bank re governance - October 26, 2008

The World Bank
Washington, D.C. 20433
Edith Grace Ssempala
Acting Senior Vice President External Affairs

October 26, 2008

Dear colleagues,

Thank you for your letter regarding voice and participation of developing and transition countries in the governance of the World Bank Group.  Mr. Zoellick asked me to respond, and I am therefore requesting that the Bretton Woods Project transmit this to all those who signed the letter.

The topic of “Enhancing Voice and Participation of Developing and Transition Countries in the World Bank Group: Options for Reform” was on the October 12th agenda of the Development Committee.  Agreement was reached on a package of governance reforms.  As a first step, that package: creates an additional Chair at the Board for Sub-Saharan Africa, which gives developing countries the majority of seats on the Bank Group's Board; expands the developing and transition country voting shares (to 44 percent in IBRD and 48 percent in IDA); implements a merit-based, transparent, and open selection process for the Bank President; and further enhances diversity in management and decentralized decision-making.

Beginning this fall, the Bank Group will initiate a comprehensive and intensive work program to realign IBRD shareholding, review ways to raise developing countries' voice in the IFC, and increase the frequency of Annual Meetings held outside Washington, D.C.  As you know, Mr. Zoellick has asked Ernesto Zedillo to lead a high-level Commission to look at governance issues more broadly.

As these important discussions and work progress, the management and staffing of the World Bank Group has grown increasingly diverse.  We have offices in more than 110 countries, employing 40 percent of the workforce. At this time, 77 percent of Country Directors are decentralized, including all Country Directors from the Africa region and the South Asia region.  And 37 percent of the management and senior technical staff are from developing countries.  Mr. Zoellick takes this issue very seriously indeed – seven of the eight senior appointments he has made since joining the Bank – six Vice Presidents and a Managing Director – have been individuals from developing countries.

We appreciate your interest, and look forward to continue to listen to the views of civil society organizations on the subject of voice and participation at the Bank Group.


Edith Grace Ssempala