Business Partners for Development (BPD) is an informal global network of businesses, civil society organizations (CSOs) and government ministries, with the World Bank Group (WBG) as an equal partner. On 9 June the Board of the WBG formally approved participation in the BPD proposal.
BPD aims to produce solid evidence of the positive impact of tri-sector partnerships – both the socio-economic (local community development) impact and the economic (business) impact. It will do this by developing ‘focus projects’ involving business, government and CSOs and providing inputs to them: expert study visits, training, monitoring and evaluation support, research on agreed priority issues. The objective is to demonstrate that these partnerships:
- provide win-win benefits to all three parties;
- can be much more widely used throughout the world;
- can be scaled up to national and regional levels.
The programme will cost $20 million over a three-year period. The WBG Board will be asked to consider a total of $3 million for the BPD initiative over this period; in FY98 (July 1997 to June 1998) a grant of $650,000 to ‘kickstart’ the initiative was agreed. This will come from the Bank’s Development Grant Facility (DGF), which had $150 million for grant-making in FY98. DGF policy is not to provide more than 15 per cent of the total budget for any project.
Preliminary work began in 1994 when the Bank funded the UK-based Prince of Wales Business Leaders Forum (PWBLF) for two years to explore the issues. Their report, Business as Partners in Development, was published in 1996.
The focus projects
Five ‘clusters’ of focus projects are planned, plus a cross-cutting ‘Knowledge Resource Group’. The Water Cluster was the first to get off the ground. Co-convened by Generale des Eaux (Vivendi), WaterAid and the WBG, with eight companies and nine CSOs attending it, it has already held two meetings, in Paris and London, and agreed focus projects in Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Haiti and South Africa. It is hoped that projects in Asia, the Middle East and North Africa will be selected at the next meeting.
The Natural Resources Cluster, co-convened by BP, Care International and the WBG, held its first meeting in Washington DC in June, as did the Youth Cluster (co-convenors the Kellogg Company, the International Youth Foundation and WBG) and the Knowledge Resource Group (co-convenors PWBLF and the WBG; CIVICUS was agreed as the third co-convenor).
The 12 companies attending the Natural Resources Cluster meeting all came from the oil and mining industries; British Petroleum, Chevron, Shell International and Rio Tinto were among them. The first four focus projects were agreed on 23 July. The Youth Cluster will next meet on 14 October, in Chicago, with the meeting hosted by Lions Clubs International. The 18 organizations attending the Knowledge Resource Group meeting focused on clarifying their role in assisting the process of collecting and connecting knowledge of tri-sector partnerships and providing services as needed to the focus projects.
Discussions are continuing over priorities for the proposed Education Cluster. Proposals are also being discussed for a Road Traffic Safety Cluster, which will trial the tri-sector partnership approach to assist in reducing mortality rates from road traffic accidents – currently set to be the world’s third leading cause of death by 2020. The first meeting is scheduled for September/October 1998.
Sixty companies, CSOs and others have agreed to participate in the initiative to date.
Nigel S Twose is Adviser to the Vice President, Finance and Private Sector Development. He moved from ActionAid in September 1997 to implement the BPD programme.
For further information about BPD, contact Nigel Twose.
Tel +1 202 458 90 86
Fax +1 202 522 2961