The Bank Group is organizing on 1 March, 2010 in Tunis a meeting with the Civil Society, the preparations of which is being coordinated by the Bank’s Head of Poverty Reduction and Social Protection Division, Sunita Pitamber.

Question: Madam Pitamber, you are coordinating a very important Forum the Bank is hosting at Hotel Sheraton, Tunis on 1 March,  2010, what is it all about?

Answer: Historically, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have played a role in shaping and monitoring the development strategies, impact and results of the African Development Bank. The Bank has continued the consultation and participation process in different ways, such as: CSO participation in the Bank’s annual meetings; the on-going consultation platform through the African Development Bank/ Non-governmental Organizations committee; opportunities for CSO engagement in the Bank’s projects’ implementation process; consultation during the environmental and social impact safeguards exercises; and continuous dialogue and information sharing through the Bank’s Field Offices.

The consultation process carried out during the Bank’s annual meetings in Dakar in May 2009 agreed that the Bank would scale up its efforts for CSO engagement. In view of this commitment, the Bank has decided to hold a Civil Society Consultation Forum on 1st March 2010.

The aim of this Forum is to have an open and substantive consultation with the civil society on key areas which have the highest impact for sustainable and inclusive development. Representatives of the African CSOs and Networks will discuss the Bank’s strategic focus under the proposed sixth general capital increase (GCI VI), agree on the terms of reference and a first quarter work plan for the AfDB/ NGO committee, as well as provide guidance on the Bank’s Information Disclosure Policy and the Environmental and Social Impact Safeguards Policy.

Question: How did the Bank prepare for the Forum, and what is the key message the Bank  is sending out to the international community on the event ?

Answer: The Bank has put in place an AfDB/ NGO committee since 1999. This committee is meant to facilitate a thorough and transparent consultation process with civil society on priority development issues in Africa. The Committee also promotes networking, especially through the identification of relevant expertise to participate in PRSP and Bank’s post evaluation missions, or in the awareness building and compensation exercise in the case of high social and environmental impact projects. This would also become a platform to exchange information on the Bank’s work and enable timely inputs on the Bank’s relevant policy framework. As such, the Bank has invited representatives of about 30 African Civil Society Organizations and networks who have been part of the AfDB/ CSO committee as well as some new members who are engaging with the Bank on specific thematic issues.

The CSO forum is meant to indicate the Bank’s strong commitment to inclusive development prioritization and planning. Civil Society represent the interests of the population in different areas. As such, the Bank will ensure that the frank and open exchange and discussions planned at the meeting will inform the Bank’s work going forward.

The most important outcome of this meeting is to revitalize the AfDB/ NGO committee to continue to be the consultation platform with the civil society. The Bank’s Gender, Climate Change and Sustainable Development Unit (OSUS) will continue to be the focal point for NGOs coordination as well as the secretariat to the AfDB/ NGO committee. A joint work plan of the committee for the first quarter will also be defined based on which further concrete actions will also be taken for a constructive consultation process.