The following reproduces the opening section of a World Bank transport report in progress that Gatnet has been invited to comment. For a PDF version (321 kb) of the full report, all you have to do is click the above title. For further information on the comment process, you are referred to Jeff Turner’s email to the group which is reproduced in the Dgroups email signed Eric Britton of 2006-03-24. You can also make comments directly here by clicking the Comments link at the top of this page.
In May 2005, the World Bank’s Transport Sector Board decided that there was a need to consider whether some realignment of its work in the transport sector is necessary to reflect trends in development, and in development thinking, over the last few years.
As a result, the Bank is planning to publish a document that will update our Transport Strategy. It is to be finalized in 2006 and to cover the period 2007-2015. The purpose of the update will be to articulate how the Bank’s approach to transport and development is evolving; to identify planned adjustments to priorities and approach; and to explain these to our development partners and other stakeholders in the Bank’s work.
We are pleased to share this consultative draft of the emerging document (PDF 321 KB). Please note that this a working draft and contains some gaps. Not only will we take account of external consultations but we will be analyzing inputs from other groups within the Bank and, in due course, establishing the benchmarks and targets for agreed priorities.
The Transport Sector Board would very much welcome external contributions from those with an interest in transport and development either through comment directed specifically at Document, or views about the Bank’s role in the transport sector more broadly. We would be grateful to receive any contribution that you may wish to make by
The Transport Sector Board (TSB) leads the World Bank’s work in transport in response to demand by its countries of operation (‘partner countries’). In recent years TSB’s views on specific transport topics have been set out in a number of specialist documents. They are listed for completeness in Annex A. However, the last policy report that addressed transport as a whole was in May 1996. That report, ‘Sustainable Transport: Priorities for Policy Reform’ broke much new ground. ‘Sustainable Transport’ (as it will be referred to in this report) continues to be a key reference document for the Bank’s views on transport matters. It emphasizes the importance of sustainability in transport: economic, financial, environmental and social. These concepts remain central and critical.
Inevitably, the world and the World Bank have advanced in their thinking about wider development issues since 1996. The Millennium Development Goals (discussed in more detail in Section 2) were agreed by the international community four years after the publication of Sustainable Transport. Moreover, other emerging issues and trends are also influencing the Bank’s approach to transport and development:
Ø The Bank has affirmed that to achieve the Millennium Development Goals will require renewed emphasis on the achievement of economic growth as well as social measures aimed at delivering benefits directly to the poor; it has therefore adopted a new Infrastructure Action Plan (World Bank 2004) to revitalize the Bank’s role in infrastructure to support economic growth. Transport constitutes around half of the Bank’s infrastructure business and is therefore central to the Plan.
Ø There is ever more evidence of the role in successful development of good public governance: the need for competent state institutions to make and implement policy; the complementary roles of public and private sectors; the roles of markets and of regulations; and the importance of fighting corruption. Governance is especially important to the transport industry because of its size and complexity, the strong public interest in its performance, and the heavy involvement of both public and private sectors in its operations.
Ø The principle of ‘ownership’ by countries of their development policies and processes has been increasingly accepted by the international development community. Ownership arises from choice. For the transport sector this implies Bank support for partner countries in establishing institutions and capacity for public policy choice and implementation while sharing knowledge about international experience of the alternatives available; but perhaps being less prescriptive about the policy choices themselves.
Ø The Bank’s lending programs to many middle income countries have declined since 1996, partly because the Bank’s methods of engagement have not evolved in a way which the countries find to be most efficient and relevant to their needs and growing economic stature. While declining participation in middle income countries has been less pronounced in the Bank’s transport sector than in the Bank as a whole, there is no room for complacency. Approaches in these countries need to be particularly responsive to changing needs and circumstances.
Ø The world is looking for concrete results from development aid and investments, not just money transfers. The transport sector is one of the Bank’s biggest areas of development finance, representing some 15 percent of its lending commitments since Sustainable Transport was written (Annex B). It is important that the TSB measures the impact of interventions in this sector and builds this experience into future projects. It is also important for both the Bank and its partner countries that better transport statistics and performance indicators are kept for making decisions and monitoring the results.
It was for all these reasons that in May 2005, ten years after the publication of Sustainable Transport, the TSB decided on this update. Its purposes are first, to articulate how these matters have affected its thinking about transport and development; second, to identify planned adjustments to its priorities and approach; and third, to explain these to development partners and other stakeholders in the Bank’s work.
The title of this Report gives a clue to at least some of this thinking. The emphasis on safe and clean reflects the importance of health and environmental outcomes within the Millennium Development Goals. The emphasis on affordable recognizes that high transport costs discourage trade and economic growth, and contribute to economic and social exclusion. Finally, transport for development asserts that while transport can have many purposes, the Bank’s focus must be on its potential to contribute to economic development.
The importance of economic efficiency to transport development is undiminished. Transport efficiency, passed on to users through well functioning markets, is critical to making it affordable. Transport will be more efficient if it avoids unnecessarily high costs in human health or environmental degradation.
The TSB has shaped this report to be strategic and succinct. It therefore deals with transport as a whole (a sector in the Bank’s parlance) that, if managed well, can contribute to economic and social development. The Report does not burrow down into the many individual types of transport technologies, markets and institutions that make up this most diverse sector. That is the role of the publications cited in Annex A. The emphasis is not on what the Bank’s specific transport projects (or interventions) should be, but on what they should try to do. Finally, while it cites empirical evidence to illustrate particular statements, it is a management review and not a research report.
The Report is divided into four further sections.
- Section 2 explains why the World Bank is so heavily involved in the transport sector and proposes adjustments to the balance of its activities to align with the Bank’s evolving mandate.
- Section 3 explains how TSB views the governance issues that underpin improved performance of transport infrastructure and services as a whole, irrespective of specific lending interventions.
- Section 4 illustrates the diversity of transport challenges in different regions where specific local responses and regional partnerships are called for, while indicating those transport issues for which global relationships are also required.
- In Section 5 it concludes by drawing on the previous sections to summarize what are the main areas for re-aligning both activity and approach going forward. These priorities will generate specific Action Plans in the coming months.