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Global Learning Process for Scaling Up Poverty Reduction and Conference in Shanghai, May 25-27, 2004

"Next spring, we will be co-sponsoring, together with the Chinese government, a conference in Shanghai on how to enhance poverty reduction efforts. How to take successful programs and scale them up; how to enable poor people to be the central force for change and not an object of charity;  how to manage programs over time for results that truly make a difference.  I hope many of you will join us in Shanghai. Taking our efforts to the next level is the challenge for the international community. It is the challenge for the Bank—and our world-class team is determined to do it."

James D. Wolfensohn, President of the World Bank Group, in an address to the Board of Governors of the World Bank Group at the joint Annual Discussion, 2003



Global Learning Process for Scaling Up Poverty Reduction
and Conference in
Shanghai, May 25-27, 2004


A unique interactive conference preceded by interactive videoconferences and field visits


The Interactive Global Learning Process and Conference

Using a dynamic interactive learning process, lessons from successful, and not so successful, experiences with scaling up poverty reduction from around the world will be shared and debated by key developing country practitioners, policymakers, politicians, donor agencies, academics, civil society groups, and development institutions.


The nine-month learning process is using leading-edge information technologies and communication tools to bring together the major players from across the development community.  A series of multicountry interactive videoconferences, online dialogues, and site visits are leading up to a working conference in Shanghai, May 25-27, 2004.


The global learning process and conference are being sponsored by the World Bank in partnership with other multilateral and bilateral donors, with the Government of China hosting the conference in Shanghai.


The Need

Although fifty years of development assistance have helped millions of people overcome poverty, disease, and fear, 2.8 billion people -- more than half the people in developing countries -- live on less than $2 a day. Of these, 1.2 billion earn less than $1 a day.  They are hungry, isolated, and vulnerable to weather, war, and sudden fluctuations in markets.  Between the developed and developing worlds, even as levels of absolute poverty fall, disparities of income, health, and education widen. Regions with large concentrations of extreme poor people have made little progress with poverty reduction over the past two decades. In these regions, any hope of meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) will depend critically on accelerating results and reproducing them widely across the spectrum. At the same time, some countries and some areas within countries have been successful. But gaps in knowledge, capacity, and policies have kept these successes "landlocked" or isolated, meaning that good work and experience, which could be making a positive difference in the lives of millions of people, are not being widely shared and utilized.

The Objective

The main objective of the interactive Global Learning Process and the Conference in Shanghai is to learn from both successful and less successful attempts to reduce poverty in all its dimensions. By focusing on the poverty reduction experience as a process involving leadership commitment, institutional innovation, learning, and external catalysts, the conference will enable participants to learn and recognize the key ingredients in successful cases where poverty has been reduced.


How can countries and communities scale up successful approaches that help improve people's lives? And what were the factors that enabled achievement of these results? The aim is to uncover the economic, social, and governance components that enabled countries to achieve poverty-reducing development results on a large scale; sharing these lessons across regions and countries; and disseminating them widely through various new and traditional media and interactive communication tools to policymakers, practitioners, and researchers.


Analytical Framework

Scaling up can be defined as adapting and expanding positive development experiences in space and time.  As countries attempt to extend successful approaches to new places, or sustain them over time, they must be able to learn from past experience -- from mistakes as well as successes -- and to adapt an approach that worked in one area to new local circumstances; to maintain programs through changes in political administration or in the face of weak governance conditions; and to communicate lessons of experience effectively.


In getting to large-scale poverty reduction results, we want to identify what were those results, and how were they achieved. In thinking of poverty reduction, we look at both income and non-income dimensions of poverty.  For the different dimensions of poverty reduction, scale is a relative issue, depending on what  result we are talking about.  Scale in community development will be different than large-scale rises in incomes or scale in the provision of infrastructure or access to social services.


In looking at how results were achieved on a large scale, we propose four hypothetical “implementation factors”: 


  • Learning and experimentation (learning from past experience, positive or negative and adapting to new or changing circumstances)
  • Institutional innovation and implementation (building the skills and capacity to put policies and programs into practice)
  • Political economy of change (domestic leadership and good governance)
  • External catalysts (e.g., resources including financial; donor inputs; trade, macroeconomic, or other external shocks) 


Interactive learning is taking place through:


  • Case studies: more than 70 cases representing most economic and social sectors will form the backbone of these global exchanges. The cases will illustrate and analyze successful and not so successful attempts to take poverty reduction initiatives to scale.  They will be adapted for the conference web site, used as learning material for the global dialogues, presented and discussed at the conference, and incorporated into one or more publications after the event.

  • Site visits to ten successful project sites in Bangladesh, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Turkey, Uganda, and Yemen will complement and add a human dimension through interviews and dialogues with experts, stakeholders, and other central actors. The visits will be attended by professional practitioners from other countries grappling with similar issues, and will be videotaped for presentation at the conference and for use as learning material after the event.

  • Videoconference dialogues: 20 multicountry videoconference case presentations and interactive discussions from December 2003 through April 2004. The main goal of the dialogues is to discuss the draft case studies, and the conceptual approaches to "scaling up," to provide feedback to the authors, and to help build a regional community of learning. Countries from up to four regions have elected to participate in discussing cases of particular relevance to their needs. Videoconference sessions will be delivered through the Global Development Learning Network (GDLN) distance learning centers or World Bank offices in participating countries. They will include case study presenters, and discussants consisting of development practitioners, policymakers, and other specialists in the topic under discussion.

  • E-dialogues: online discussions will help broaden the dialogue and give access to thousands of practitioners who may not attend the videoconferences and the conference in Shanghai
  • Video-based case studies to be broadcast and shown at the conference and a documentary film to be widely disseminated after the conference.
  • The conference in Shanghai, May 25-27, 2004 will bring some 600 participants together around a series of success stories in development, providing high visibility to approaches that really work in poverty reduction. The conference will be structured as a conversation in which key decision-makers will share their insights with peers from other developing and developed countries about what worked, what did not, and why, within various economic, social, and institutional contexts as they defined goals, designed programs, experimented, and learned during implementation.  The proceedings will be available over the Web through video streaming.

Who will participate?

Participation in global dialogues, online discussions, field visits, and the conference is by invitation.


In the Dialogues: Policymakers from the developing world, particularly PRSP and low-income countries, will be the main participants in the dialogues. But country and donor officials, civil society, academics, development institutions, and practitioners from developed countries who can share lessons learned about poverty reduction from around the world will also be involved. 

At the Shanghai Conference: Six hundred participants will be invited to the conference in Shanghai, including 200 from China. These will include high-level policymakers, world leaders, practitioners, researchers and scholars; civil society, NGOs, and private sector representatives; and donor community representatives, multilateral and other development partners.

Governments, civil society groups, UN agencies, multilateral development institutions, bilateral aid agencies, and regional development banks.

For more information:

Visit www.reducingpoverty.org

 Or contact:

 Michele de Nevers

Tel: (202) 473-8607

Fax: (202) 522-0401

Email: Mdenevers@worldbank.org


Kim Cuenco

Tel: (202)-458-9107

Fax: (202) 522-0401

Email: Ecuenco@worldbank.org 

Galina Voytsehovska
Tel: (202)-473-6463
Fax: (202)-614-1510
Email: gvoytsehovska@worldbank.org

Li Li

Tel: (86-10) 65543361 ext. 2030

Fax: (86-10) 65541686

Email: Lli2@worldbank.org


(China.org.cn March 23, 2004)

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