Civil Society

Civil society has grown exponentially over the past decades and today is recognized as an important development actor throughout the world; monitoring public policies, providing technical expertise, and partnering with governments to provide community services.

The Bank has greatly increased its cooperation with Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) over the past 20 years, and today it is estimated that CSOs are involved in 72 percent of new Bank-financed projects each year.

The Bank funds thousands of civil society initiatives each year in areas such as: post-conflict reconstruction, HIV/AIDS prevention, environmental protection, and poverty reduction.

More than 120 civil society specialists work at the World Bank to ensure the views of CSOs are considered and to encourage CSO involvement in Bank-financed projects. The Growth of Civil Society

The Civil Society sector – composed of non-governmental organizations, faith-based groups, trade unions, indigenous people’s groups, charitable organizations, community groups, and foundations among others – has emerged as a major force in international development in the past 20 years. There has been a dramatic expansion in the size, scope, and capacity of civil society which has come in the wake of growing democratic governance throughout the world. The number of international NGOs was reported to have increased from 6,000 in 1990 to 26,000 in 1999. CSOs have also become significant players in global development assistance, with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) reporting that as of 2003 at least $12 billion in international assistance flows through CSOs.

CSOs’ have demonstrated an increased influence and ability to shape global public policy over the past two decades. This dynamism is exemplified by successful advocacy campaign movements which have mobilized thousands of supporters around the world on issues such as: the banning of land mines, debt cancellation, and environmental protection. The most recent example of the vibrancy and importance of civil society was the Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP), which was organized by a coalition of international CSOs to influence the discussions on debt and trade at the G8 Summit in Gleneagles, Scotland in July 2005. The campaign was estimated to have mobilized over 100 million citizens around the world to demonstrate their concern for global poverty by wearing white wristbands, attending concerts, and lobbying their government officials.

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