In January 1999, World Bank President James D. Wolfensohn

circulated a proposal for a "Comprehensive Development Framework"

(CDF) to World Bank personnel. Building upon Wolfensohn's previous

policy statements, as well as consultative meetings held worldwide

with various international development actors, the CDF calls for a new

"holistic approach to development."

It seeks a better balance in policymaking by highlighting the

interdependence of all elements of development-social,

structural, human, governance, environmental, economic, and

financial. It emphasizes partnerships among governments,

donors, civil society, the private sector, and other development

actors. Perhaps most important, [it puts] the country.., in the

lead, both "owning" and directing the development agenda, with

the Bank and other partners each defining their support for

their respective plans.

This New Development examines the CDF and its implications for

international development. Specifically, using microdevelopment

theory, including micro-law and development theory, it analyzes the

CDF and compares it to the Bank's previous approaches to

development. On its face, the CDF appears to give the poorest of the

poor more of a voice in formulating their countries' development

policies. Examination of the implementation of the CDF in several pilot

countries, however, reveals that it is most often being used as a tool to

improve relationships between those countries' governments and

international development donors; the voices of those countries' citizens

in poverty, as well as other elements of civil society, are largely being

ignored. According to micro-law and development theory, unless

countries pay attention to civil society, especially the poorest of the

poor, development policy is doomed to fail. To that end, this New

Development encourages civil society, and especially non-governmental

organizations that represent the poor, to use the CDF as a means of

getting to the table and assuming their appropriate place as full

participants in the formulation of development policy.