(AfDB) - The African Development Bank - Civil Society Committee held its first statutory meeting at the Bank’s headquarters in Abidjan on 15-16 January, 2019.
The committee is an advisory group set up by the Bank to strengthen links and collaboration with civil society in Africa, and is composed of 11 civil society organisations with proven expertise in at least one of the Bank's five major development priorities, known as the High 5s. The committee members also represent the continent's five sub-regions (North Africa, West Africa, East Africa, Central Africa and Southern Africa), as well as active international non-governmental organizations in Africa. In addition to civil society representatives, the committee includes 11 staff members of the Bank.
"The overall objective of this first statutory meeting of the committee is to strengthen the involvement of civil society organisations in the implementation of the Bank's five key priorities at the country level and in the Bank’s operations and projects," said Vanessa Moungar, Director of the Bank's Gender, Women and Civil Society Department, in her welcome remarks.
This first meeting adopted a work plan and approved the committee’s operating rules, and saw the election of its vice-president, the Cameroonian Augustine Njanmnshi, from civil society - he is notably the co-founder of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA). Jennifer Blanke, who chairs the committee and is also the Bank’s Vice-President Agriculture, Human and Social Development, stressed the need to "build a structure geared to deeper, broader and more coherent commitment with civil society.”
"The Bank must be known as a pan-African institution that engages with communities and informs, consults and involves them in its development efforts," added Njanmnshi.
The meeting unveiled the first ever issue of a quarterly newsletter, Voices of Citizens in Africa, developed by the African Development Bank's Civil Society and Community Engagement Division. This newsletter will publish news related to the Bank's engagement with civil society and will share experiences and good practices. As Vanessa Moungar asserted, "the Bank's engagement framework with civil society is on the move!"
The committee will meet for its second statutory session in May 2019, to review the progress made by each civil society representation at the regional level, on the sidelines of the Civil Society Forum, whose theme is aligned with that of the Bank's 2019 Annual Meetings: "Strengthening Regional Integration for Africa's Economic Prosperity."