We held the first Consultative Advisory Panel meeting today for BERF.  The panel agreed its objectives and terms of reference going forward,  it had an initial discussion of some of the cross cutting issues including gender, political economy analysis, fragile and conflict affected states, and environment/climate, and it had an a discussion about the emerging policy agenda.

Membership of the panel is drawn from the wider consortium of BERF including DAI , Itad, LDP,  McKinsey, Restless Development, Social Development Direct, Triple Line and The Policy Practice.  Prorustica is also a member.

The idea of the Consultative Advisory Panel is to bring a higher level of strategic engagement from experts, including cross cutting specialists, improve strategic engagement with the wider BERF consortium, and promote stronger delivery and action of the cross cutting agendas within BERF.

Sally Baden of Social Development Direct set out the importance of the gender issues for BERF.  She outlined a 4 level framework including examination of discriminatory measures in the business enabling environment, looking at the gender impacts of reforms,  undertaking specific measures to address gender disadvantages, and enforcement of regulations to promote gender equality.

William Kingsmill of The Policy Practice explored issues around Political Economy Analysis and Fragile and Conflict Affected States.  He spoke about the need for political analysis to address underlying incentives and constraints to change.  Business Environment Reform needs to work across the public and private sectors.  We know a lot about political administration reform and why it often fails because of vested interests.  Donors often focus on “displacement activities” such as changing the legislative framework, but are unable to make real changes on the ground.  William described the elements of political economy analysis including:

1. foundational factors (structure of the economy, stakeholders who are excluded);

2. ‘rules of the game’ – how things work through formal and informal rules and institutions; and

3. Incentives (e.g who is benefiting from the status quo and how can they be given incentives to allow change).   William spoke about the importance of rapid progress on job creation and inclusive growth in conflict affected states to reduce the risk of return to conflict.

Patrick Guyver of Prorustica explored issues of climate change and business environment reform, flagging up the major challenges that poor countries face in adapting to rapid changes in the environment.  Whilst the threat to productivity is substantial, it was noted that Business Environment Reforms can help driving offsetting improvements to technology and therefore achieving inclusive growth.

Richard Baldwin of DAI shared his expertise in land markets viewed through a Business Environment Reform lens.  Land markets are extremely important for African economies – contributing up to 50% of Gross Domestic Product.  Yes around 70% lack secure land rights and land markets do not function well from the viewpoint of making use of land for collateral.  Financial markets are weak.  Urban land rights are increasingly important also.  Carl Aaron liked the framework proposed by Richard and suggested this could be a useful model for the cross cutting agendas.

Dan Aylward, KPMG coordinator for Policy Research, outlined some initial thinking on the policy agenda.  There is a possibility of doing policy work in Pakistan looking at sub-national reforms and sector specific activities.  Scoping exercises to consider Business Environment reforms in relation to the environment, and in relation to Fragile and Conflict Affected States, are also under active consideration.  It was agreed that concept notes should be shared with the Consultative Advisory Panel for further review and comment.