July 9, 2024

Accountability what? Sharing the message with Generation Alpha

Bringing accountability to life for the kids


AM Secretary Orsolya Székely welcomes  young visitors and their parents. Photos: the World Bank Accountability Mechanism. 

The World Bank Accountability Mechanism hosted an interactive session, “Accountability What? How Mom and Dad Help People and the Environment Around the World,” on the World Bank Group’s Bring Your Kids to Work Day on April 25, 2024. 

The annual event, held in Washington, D.C., gives kids a chance to learn more about the World Bank and what their parents do at work. The Accountability Mechanism (AM) session was led by AM Secretary Orsolya Székely, Dispute Resolution Service Head of Operations William Romans, and Inspection Panel Senior Operations Officer Serge Selwan. It was attended by a standing-room-only crowd of more than 150 children and parents.

Serge Selwan (Inspection Panel) and William Romans (Dispute Resolution Service) discuss accountability with participants.
Using vibrant before-and-after cartoons created for the occasion, the session presented a scenario of a development taking place in the imaginary town of Buena Vista. A large school has been proposed for construction; unfortunately, the location currently features a beloved community park. While the school will provide much-needed educational infrastructure to the kids of Buena Vista, all generations (and their dogs) visit the park for walks, talks, and sports. The construction of the school will also require the demolition of several houses belonging to long-term residents.

What should the people of Buena Vista do? Following the presentation of the scenario by William and Serge, the older children present discussed solutions while the younger kids busied themselves with coloring in the pages supplied. Should the residents complain to the City Council, who can decide on the school’s construction? Or should they talk to the school board themselves, with the help of a mediator, in order to come to an agreement? 

The Buena Vista scenarios offered the children (and their parents) a big picture idea of accountability. This allowed them to understand how the AM works in the real world to help communities speak up and seek remedy to problems they believe have been caused by World Bank-funded projects. But it was the cartoons that were the stars of the day—one mother told us her child, Gwen Aylor, continued to color her cartoon beyond the session and into the rest of the day’s activities. Others noted that the cartoon brought to life the dilemma faced by the residents of Buena Vista, and encouraged them to think about solutions to everyday issues.

We are pleased to feature below a few of the cartoons beautifully colored by Gwen and other children who attended the session, as well as the original works that were created by our illustrator, Daniel Merenyi. We are also grateful to all who participated in this event—both kids and their parents. We look forward to seeing you next year!

Contributions from future accountability practitioners!

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