By World Bank Civil society is critical to ensuring community concerns over multilateral bank projects are heard, says the Chair of the World Bank Inspection Panel, Imrana Jalal. Speaking at a seminar in Suva this morning, Jalal stressed the importance of multilateral banks being accountable to the communities they serve. The World Bank’s Inspection Panel ensures projects comply with the Bank’s own policies and procedures. It is independent from the World Bank's management, and reports directly to the Bank’s Board. Jalal, who is a Fijian lawyer and human rights and gender advocate, was appointed as Chair of the Panel last year. The World Bank has recently ramped up its presence in the Pacific with a new office in Suva, which serves as a regional hub for it's work across the region.
The new regional hub will be integral to the World Bank Group's delivery of more than F$1 billion (US$470 million) worth of projects across six countries (Fiji, Nauru, Kiribati, Samoa, Tonga and Tuvalu) in a wide range of sectors. The World Bank’s support to the region has tripled since 2016. Jalal said that the projects multilaterial banks finance must comply with the institution’s environmental and social policies. If not, residents who believe they are being harmed by a project have the right to file complaints with and seek redress from independent accountability mechanisms like the Inspection Panel. “Accountability is the cornerstone of good governance and it’s important that people are aware of these mechanisms and how they can access them,” she said. Today’s seminar is one of several outreach events the Inspection Panel takes part in each year.
Representatives from civil society, non-governmental organisations, development agencies and academic institutions attended today's event.