The Struggle for Accountability

From Global Environmental Accord: Strategies for Sustainability and Institutional Innovation

The Struggle for Accountability

The World Bank, NGOs, and Grassroots Movements

Edited by Jonathan A. Fox and L. David Brown





After a history of funding environmentally costly megaprojects, the World Bank now claims that it is trying to become a leading force for sustainable development. For more than a decade, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and grassroots movements have formed transnational coalitions to reform the World Bank and the governments that it funds. The Struggle for Accountability assesses the efforts of these groups to make the World Bank more publicly accountable. The book is organized into four parts. Part I describes the NGOs and grassroots movements that are the book's central focus. Part II presents case studies of four projects that provoked the emergence of transnational advocacy coalitions: Indonesia's Kedung Ombo dam, the Mt. Apo geothermal plant in the Philippines, Brazil's Planaforo Amazon development project, and the remarkable campaign of Ecuador's indigenous people to influence national economic policy that led to their participation in the design of a development loan. Part III looks at the origins and politics of reform in four areas of broader World Bank policy: the rights of indigenous peoples, involuntary resettlement, water resources, and the World Bank's institutional reforms that are supposed to encourage public accountability. In the last section, the editors discuss issues of accountability within transnational coalitions and assess the impact of advocacy campaigns on World Bank projects and policies.

ContributorsL. David Brown, Jane G. Covey, Jonathan A. Fox, Andrew Gray, Margaret E. Keck, Deborah Moore, Antoinette Royo, Augustinus Rumansara, Leonard Sklar, Kay Treakle, Lori Udall, David A. Wirth.


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262061995 548 pp. | 6 in x 9 in


$45.00 X ISBN: 9780262561174 548 pp. | 6 in x 9 in


Jonathan A. Fox

Jonathan A. Fox is Professor in the Latin American and Latino Studies Department atthe University of California, Santa Cruz.

L. David Brown


  • This book offers a sound and thorough study of NGO campaigns around the world and provides a critical appraisal of the greening and increased transparency of the World Bank. The authors deliver one of the few careful and systematic evaluations on this highly emotional and polemical topic.

    Peter M. Haas

    Professor of Political Science, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

  • This book provides a fascinating and complex analysis of the potential and pitfalls of the process of engagement between civil society, the World Bank, and governments during the last two decades. It brings together a range of excellent case studies, based on firsthand experience and primary research, of the worldwide struggle to make the World Bank's lending policies more answerable to the communities that the policies are supposed to serve.

    Gita Sen

    Professor of Economics and Social Sciences, Indiana Institute of Management, Bangalore & Research Coordinator, DAWN (Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era)

  • International coalitions and networks of civil society are becoming increasingly relevant in today's global order. This study of advocacy mechanisms highlights the significance and processes of enduring Southern constituency rootedness and accountability.

    Rajeesh Tandon

    Executive Director, Society for Participatory Research in Asia and Chairperson, CIVICUS

  • Is the World Bank an immutable monolith or a more responsive institutional partner capable of sincere dialogue with its diverse stakeholders and critics? The Struggle for Accountability provides the first comprehensive evaluation of the struggles, setbacks, and limited victories of World Bank officials and their activist critics. Fox and Brown provide a valuable window into a complex set of relationships that has real relevance to today's efforts to link local realities to global policy reform.

    Raymond C. Offenheiser

    President, Oxfam America

  • This is a timely, high quality volume that integrates a very carefully reasoned intervention in important policy controversies that with a sophisticated appreciation of connections to ongoing theoretical debates in the social sciences. While explaining how the Bank's environmental policies have responded to external lobbying groups, it simultaneously helps illuminate questions of organizational learning, transnational civil society, and the institutional character of NGOs.

    Peter Evans

    Chancellor's Professor of Sociology, University of California, Berkeley

  • The search for accountability in international institutions is a keytopic in today's global agenda. This work provides a variety ofuseful and important examples of efforts to increase transparency andaccountability in World Bank operations.

    Dr. Alvaro Umaña

    Chairman, World Bank Inspection Panel