Governance Global Practice: Overview

The recognition that governance is a key element in sustainable economic development has been gaining in ascendance.  As part of a recent World Bank Group reorganization into 14 Global Practices (GPs) and 5 Cross-Cutting Areas, governance has assumed a central role.  The new Governance Global Practice (GGP) is the largest of all of the new GPs, bringing together professionals in procurement, financial management, taxation, public sector management, regulatory policy, transparency, digital governance, law and development, anticorruption, and social accountability to develop innovative, integrated solutions to governance and institutional challenges.

In our cover story we present an overview of the new GPs, including the GGP; an interview with Mario Marcel, Senior Director of the Governance Global Practice; as well as Senior Management and Staff views and perspectives on governance and its role in economic development in general, and with respect to the World Bank’s twin goals of eliminating extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity, in particular.

Introducing the World Bank Group’s New Global Practices

In July 2014, the World Bank Group embarked on an ambitious reorganization with the aim of breaking down internal bureaucratic silos. The idea behind this organizational change is to mobilize the world’s best experts and global knowledge and make them more accessible to client countries. The World Bank Group’s new Global Practices bring together knowledge and expertise in 14 sectors and 5 cross-cutting areas. The goal is to help developing countries find solutions to the toughest global and local development challenges—from adapting to climate change to boosting food security or increasing access to energy. 

The new Global Practices (GPs) include: Agriculture; Education; Energy and Extractives; Environment and Natural Resources; Finance and Markets; Governance; Health, Nutrition and Population; Macroeconomics and Fiscal Management; Poverty; Social Protection and Labor; Social, Urban, Rural, and Resilience; Trade and Competitiveness; Transport and Information and Communication Technologies; and Water.  In addition, the new GPs work in tandem with all of the Regions— including MENA— and Cross-Cutting Solutions Areas, comprising: Climate Change; Fragility, Conflict and Violence; Gender; Jobs; and Public-Private Partnerships.

Good Governance and Good Economics

Well-established studies on institutions and growth demonstrate a strong and positive correlation between the principles of good governance and a country’s gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, as well as the quality of its health and education services.  In short, good governance is good economics. The inextricable link between poor governance and persistent poverty is widely acknowledged but often difficult to break. Countries capable of controlling corruption are able to use their human and financial resources more efficiently, with fewer losses and distortions. They are able to attract more foreign and domestic investment, and on average, grow more rapidly. Countries with strong institutions prosper by creating an enabling environment that facilitates private sector growth and poverty reduction, delivering valuable services, and by earning the confidence of their citizens– a relationship of trust that is created when people can participate in government decision-making and know their voices are heard on issues that affect them.

The New Governance Global Practice

Good governance is at the heart of the development agenda so it is an integral part of the World Bank Group's twin goals of ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity. The new Governance Global Practice (GGP) aims to support countries in building open, effective, and accountable institutions for inclusive development. In this context, the GGP will take a new, more inclusive approach to governance issues by concentrating on the fundamental aspects of the engagement between public institutions and citizens. This approach will place increased emphasis on engaging citizens and civil society organizations as part of the solution, and focus on the political economy aspects of development, including transparency and social accountability, which will lead to improved design of institutional reforms. The GGP brings together professionals in procurement, financial management, taxation, public management, regulatory policy, transparency, digital governance, law and development, anticorruption, and social accountability to develop innovative, integrated solutions to pernicious institutional problems. Governance is the Bank’s largest and most diverse GP, bringing together roughly 770 staff in 97 countries, and providing lending, fiduciary, knowledge, advisory, and technical assistance services (including Economic and Sector Work, Reimbursable Advisory Services, and Technical Assistance). 

The practice utilizes a problem-driven, diagnostic approach, combining global comparative knowledge of reform successes and failures with keen understanding of the institutional challenges and opportunities of developing countries. Specifically, the GGP provides support in:

(i) Sustainable Public Resource Management by improving analytic and policy capacity in public finance; strengthening the composition, management and reporting of public expenditure; and augmenting budget and accounting systems and procurement processes to ensure sustainable funding for public programs.

(ii) Effective Service Delivery and Policy Implementation through the strengthening of both core agencies and line departments. The GGP seeks to improve public sector performance and effectiveness by supporting reforms in public management, human resource management, performance monitoring, regulatory reform, ICT solutions and innovative delivery approaches, and other areas.

(iii) Open and Accountable Governments by facilitating collaboration to foster social accountability and citizen-centric development. This work stream includes government transparency and responsiveness, strengthening key accountability institutions (including parliaments and the judiciary), using mobile technologies to monitor performance and enabling citizens to participate effectively in government decision-making.

Scope and Strategy

Drawing upon the World Bank Group’s unparalleled convening power, thought leadership, and multi-disciplinary expertise, the GGP harnesses data, knowledge, and partnerships to implement practical solutions to complex governance challenges within each client country. The GGP also supports the measurement and dissemination of client results, to promote progress in other countries and foster collaborative dialogue to build a stronger global knowledge base from which all will benefit. Since 2010, the World Bank Group has been active in promoting governance and public sector reform in over 114 countries. The GGP supervises procurement and financial management of roughly 1600 operations with a total envelope of $182 billion.