Fonds - Records of the Social Development Sector

Identity area

Reference code



Records of the Social Development Sector


  • 1975 - 2007 (Creation)
  • 1975 - 2007 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

200.00 linear feet of textual records (approximate)

Context area

Name of creator

Biographical history

Functions related to the social development sector were consolidated in a single department in January 1997, with the formation of the Social Development Department (SDV, alternatively referred to as the Social Development Network) within the Vice Presidency for Environmentally and Socially Sustainable Development (ESSD). However, activities related to the sector were initiated in the early 1970s with the report circulated by the Vice President of Bank Operations, Warren Baum, entitled A Report with Recommendation on the Use of Anthropology in Project Operations in the World Bank Group. This report concluded that there was a need to increase anthropological and sociological input into Bank projects; part of its recommendations included the hiring of eleven anthropologists and sociologists who were to be placed in strategic operational departments. As per its recommendations, social scientists were recruited and placed in various sectoral, regional, and country offices. For example, Michael Cernea, the Bank's first sociologist, was hired by the Rural Development Department in 1974 and Gloria Davis, the Bank's first anthropologist, became a member of the Indonesia Transmigration and Land Settlement Program in 1978. The objective of the Bank's earliest social scientists was to work towards the improvement of development project effectiveness through focus on the promotion and development of tools for social analysis and participation, and the creation of a Bank-wide and external network of colleagues.

In the early 1980s, policies related to resettlement, indigenous people, women, and institutions (specifically related to farmer production systems) were developed and implemented by the Bank. Significantly, in 1984, the Bank adopted an operational manual statement (OMS 2.20) that included a section on Sociological Aspects of Project Appraisal. During this time, the social scientists employed by the Bank along with other Bank staff interested in social concerns were linked informally through the Bank Sociological Group, headed by Michael Cernea.

Developing and maintaining relationships with external non-governmental organizations (NGOs) became a Bank-wide imperative in the early 1980s. These activities would come to be associated with the social development network and would eventually be placed in the SDV in 1997. An initial NGO-World Bank Committee was formed within the International Relations Department (IRD) of the Office of the Vice President, External Relations (VPE) in 1983. The function would be moved regularly over the subsequent decade and a half. The function was moved into: the Strategic Planning Department as a new unit in 1987 (SPRIE); the External Relations Department, again, in 1990 (EXTIE); the Operations Policy Department (OPR) in 1993, briefly as the International Economic Relations Division (OPRIE) and then into OPR's Policy Group (OPRPG); and finally the SDV's Non-Governmental Organization Division (SDVNG) in 1997.

In 1987, the Environment Department (ENV) was created within the Vice Presidency, Sector Policy and Research (PRE). Four Regional environment divisions (REDs) were also established to serve as technical departments that would oversee the implementation of environment measures included in Bank-supported projects. While the newly formed Department initially consisted of environment staff, it and the REDs eventually came to have social expertise, as well.

This development was ultimately articulated in the Environment Department's organizational structure when, in 1993, a division for Social Policy and Resettlement (ENVSP) was created with an anthropologist, Gloria Davis, as division chief. The division dealt with resettlement, social dimensions of natural resource management, social assessment, and an emerging social policy agenda. The division was also involved in project appraisal/review and creating reports and policy.

A significant development in the articulation of the Bank's social development function was the 1994 publication of Social Assessment-Incorporating Participation and Social Analysis into the Bank's Operational Work by the ENVSP (WBG Archives folder number 1454283, Social Development Fonds). The paper brought together social analysis and participatory processes under a single approach and defined the objectives of social assessment as reducing poverty and promoting sustainable development by:

  • identifying key stakeholders and establishing an appropriate framework for their participation in project selection, design and implementation;

  • ensuring that project objectives and incentives for change are acceptable to the range of people intended to benefit, and that gender and other social differences are reflected in project design;

  • assessing the social impact of investment projects, and determining how adverse impacts can be overcome or at least substantially mitigated; and

  • evaluating the capacity to enable participation, permit service delivery and carry out mitigation measures, and recommending measures to strengthen capacity.

The Bank and, specifically, the ENVSP, published numerous papers, guides, and books throughout the 1990s that helped define the emerging social development sector, provide guidance for Bank lending and operations departments, and influence future policy. In 1997, Social Development and Results on the Ground: Task Group Report: was published as the final document of the Task Group to advise on Social Development. The document provided definitions, took stock of the Bank's accomplishments related to social analysis and social development, and charted a course for moving forward. The Task Group also provided a number of recommendations related to the broader use of participation and social analysis.

In January of 1997, the Social Development network (SDV) was formed. This took place at the same time as a Bank-wide reorganization of the thematic Vice Presidencies. To facilitate sharing of expertise and knowledge, the Bank established networks that linked Bank-wide communities of staff working in the same field across organizational boundaries and with external partners. The networks formed a virtual overlay on the existing Bank organization, and were intended to link staff working in the same sectors throughout the Bank, whether the staff was located in the Regions, in the Central Vice-Presidencies' Sector Departments, or other Vice-Presidencies. Four networks were formed as part of the restructuring: the Environmentally and Socially Sustainable Development Network (ESSD); the Finance, Private Sector Development, and Infrastructure Network (FPD); the Human Development Network (HDN); and the Poverty Reduction and Economic Management Network (PRM). THE SDV was placed in the ESSD.

Gloria Davis was named the first director of the SDV. In addition to the creation of the Department, social development units were established in the Regions and a Board of Regional representatives was created. The newly formed Social Development Board set as its main objectives:

  • establishing the infrastructure through which the network would function;

  • integrating and mainstreaming social analysis, participation and gender considerations into lending operations by developing and disseminating procedures for social assessment;

  • identifying and addressing key social issues in countries and regions;

  • aligning work on social development within the merging business activities of the Bank - especially poverty reduction and private sector development;

  • improving research, capacity building and partnerships; and

  • delivering several other products and programs identified by the Executive Directors and senior management as having high priority for the Bank: for example, developing a strategy to guide Bank-NGO relations, strengthening the Bank's capacity to deal with post-conflict reconstruction, and supporting a new cultural heritage initiative.

The Department had no operational portfolio.

On January 1, 2007, the Social Development Department was moved to the Sustainable Development Network (SDN). The SDN officially came into existence on July 1, 2006, and was operationally functional as of January 1, 2007. It was formed through the integration of ESSD and Infrastructure (INF). Along with the Social Development Department, SDN includes the following units or departments: Agricultural and Rural Development Department (ARD); Concessional and Sub-National Finance (CSF); Finance, Economics and Urban Development (FEU); Sustainable Energy (SEG); Environment Department (ENV); and Transport, Water, and Information and Communication Technologies (TWI).

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Records were transferred directly from sector units to the Archives using approved records retention and disposition schedules.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

This fonds consists of records created by the Social Development Department (SDV) as well as by other Bank units that pre-existed the SDV and which carried out those functions that comprise the Bank's social development sector. Records created in the Environment Department's Social Policy and Resettlement Division (ENVSP, 1993-1997) are abundant. In some cases, files begun in the ENVSP were transferred to and eventually closed by the SDV. Records from other Departments in this fonds include: the International Relations Department of the Office of the Vice President, External Relations (VPE) between 1983 and 1987; the Strategic Planning Department (SPRIE) between 1987 and 1990; the External Relations Department (EXTIE) between 1990-1993; and the Operations Policy Department's Policy Group (OPRPG) between 1993 and 1997.

A significant amount of records in this fonds relate to the Bank's involvement with Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in their capacity: as operational organizations, whose main purpose isthe design and implementation of development projects; and as advocacy organizations that support a particular cause and seek to influence Bank policies and practices.

Included are general subject and policy development records used to establish and review Bank Group policies in relation to NGOs. The majority of these files were created in the 1990s by the ENVSP and SDV's NGO Unit (SDVNG), although there are a number of files from the SPRIE, EXTIE, and OPRPG in the mid-1980s through the early 1990s. Correspondence and reports related to policies and strategies for Bank collaboration with NGOs are included, as are subject files on gender, governance, resettlement, capacity building, civil society, debt initiative, and other topics. Other NGO-related topics (often in the form of chronological files) include: committees; partnerships; participation and monitoring; progress reports; conferences; seminars; workshops; U.S. development NGOs; and Swiss NGOs. Related to these records and present in this fonds are records created and received while monitoring civic engagement in Bank lending and policy instruments.

Bank/NGO liaison files dating from the mid 1980s to early 1990s and relating to specific countries are also included. These records relate to activities carried out by NGOs independently or in collaboration with the Bank. Records include correspondence between the Bank and NGOs or government officials as well as technical materials, Bank and NGO reports, and material on workshops and conferences. Records related to the Small Grants Program are also included. The Program supports activities related to civic engagement by providing small grants administered through the Country Offices. The records included here are primarily from the early to mid-1990s when the Program was organized within the EXTIE. Records include reports, minutes, grant applications, awards, and related materials from the Committee. The fonds also contains records relating to other trust funds, such as the Trust Fund for Environmentally and Socially Sustainable Development (TFESSD) and the Grants Facility for Indigenous Peoples. These records include legal documents, Internal Audit Reports, External Audit Reports, Portfolio review issues, single audit reports, and special analyses.

A number of records related specifically to participation - that is, the promotion of methods and approaches that encourage the involvement of stakeholders in development initiatives - are also included. These include internal and externally created documents, suchas: NGO files; action plans; participatory poverty assessment studies; discussion papers; committee files; policy development files; and general files.

The fonds also contains a large amount of research material created and collected by SDV staff and by the Bank's social scientists prior to the SDV's formation. Research undertaken by Michael Cernea and others in the 1990s related to resettlement is included. This includes research materials created during the writing of various reports including The Bankwide Review of Projects Involving Involuntary Resettlement (1986-1993) (1994). Included are country and project files that involve cases of resettlement.

Records related to Cernea's historical research on sociology in the Bank are also included. These contain a collection compiled by Cernea of Bank project files, Terms of Reference (TORs), conference and seminar materials, and other records from the 1980s that involved elements related to the social development sector. Records of the Bank Sociological Groupare also included. The fonds also contains Gloria Davis's chronological files created during her time as the first Director of the SDV from 1997 to 2000. These generally consist of correspondence.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


Accruals are expected.

System of arrangement

The following arrangement is provisional. Records are arranged into seven series:

  • Bank/NGO policy, subject, and chronological files

  • Bank/NGO country liaison files

  • Bank/NGO grant and trust fund files

  • Research materials-Participation

  • Research materials-Resettlement

  • Research materials -Sociology in the World Bank

  • Social Development Department Director chronological files

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Records are subject to the World Bank Policy on Access to Information.

Conditions governing reproduction

Records are subject to the Copyright Policy of the World Bank Group.

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

While a finding aid specific for the records of this fonds does not exist, researchers who are interested in operational projects (loans, credits, grants, and trust funds) which involve topics related to the social development sector are encouraged to reference the Projects and Operations Database on-line. The Projects and Operations Database search can be narrowed to include only those projects that involve Themes of the social development sector and contains some finalreports specific to each project. Should researchers wish to access the archival records related to these projects, cite the Project ID number when making a request.

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

  • Personal papers of Gloria Davis (WB IBRD/IDA DAVIS).

  • Records of the Environmentally and Socially Sustainable Development Network (WB IBRD/IDA WB_IBRD/IDA_92).

  • See Central Files - Liaison with external organizations, individuals, and United States government (WB IBRD/IDA ADMCF-08) for records maintained in the World Bank's central recordkeeping system related to the Bank's external liaison function for the years 1969 to 1971.

  • See the "Sector Departments" section of the List of Fonds for additional records related to liaison with external organizations (including NGOs), partnerships and program collaboration. During the years 1972 to 1986 when the official files of the sector departments were maintained in Central Files (later the records stations and Non-Regional Information Centers [NRIC]), many offices kept separate working files as reflected in the various sector department fonds. These fonds also contain records created after 1987 when the NRIC closed following the July 1987 Bank-wide reorganization and recordkeeping responsibilities were turned over to the records-creating offices.

  • See various Regional Vice Presidency fonds for records related to social development Technical Assistance units located in Regional Technical Departments. Records relate to region- and country- specific sector studies and planning, operational support, staff training, and the provision of advice and materials to Bank staff, clients, and donors.

Related descriptions

Notes area

Alternative identifier(s)

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Description control area

Description identifier

Institution identifier

Rules and/or conventions used

Internal World Bank Group Archives rules based on ISAD(G).

Disclosure status

Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion

22 June 2012




Accession area

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