Economy August 4, 2016 | 3:41 pm

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World Bank board approves new environmental and social framework

Washington.- The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directorstoday approved a new Environmental and Social Framework (ESF) that expandsprotections for people and the environment in Bank-financed investmentprojects. The safeguards review included the most extensive consultation everconducted by the World Bank. It concludes nearly four years of analysis andengagement around the world with governments, development experts, and civilsociety groups, reaching nearly 8,000 stakeholders in 63 countries. Theframework is part of a far-reaching effort by the World Bank Group to improvedevelopment outcomes and streamline its work.

“TheWorld Bank Group’s mission is to end extreme poverty and reduce inequality inthe world, and this new framework will be a critical factor in helping us reachthose goals,” said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim. “These new safeguards will build into ourprojects updated and improved protections for the most vulnerable people in theworld and our environment. We also will substantially increase our financing ofthe safeguards to make sure this works as intended – with enough funding forboth implementation and building capacity in countries so that they can play amore active role in protecting people and the environment.”

The framework brings the World Bank’s environmental andsocial protections into closer harmony with those of other developmentinstitutions, and makes important advances in areas such as transparency,non-discrimination, social inclusion, public participation, and accountability– including expanded roles for grievance redress mechanisms.

In order to support the new framework – and meet additionaloversight demands – the World Bank is on a trajectory to substantially increasefunding for the safeguards.

Strengthening national systems in borrowing countries isrecognized as a central development goal by the World Bank and most of itsshareholders. In line with this goal,the framework places greater emphasis on the use of borrower frameworks andcapacity building, with the aim of constructing sustainable borrowerinstitutions and increasing efficiency.

“Thenew framework embodies the World Bank’s commitment to environmental and socialprotections and responds to new and varied development demands and challengesthat have arisen over time,” said Alex Foxley, World Bank Executive Directorfor Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay, and Chair of theCommittee on Development Effectiveness, a committee of the World Bank Boardthat oversees policy matters. “Theexperience and capacity of many borrowers has improved and our requirementshave been updated to reflect the realities of today. The framework is designedto boost development outcomes in Bank projects by placing strong emphasis onsustainability, responsible use of resources, and monitoring and evaluation.”

The approved Environmental and Social Framework introducescomprehensive labor and working condition protection; an over-archingnon-discrimination principle; community health and safety measures that addressroad safety, emergency response and disaster mitigation; and a responsibilityto include stakeholder engagement throughout the project cycle.

The new framework will promote better – and lasting -development outcomes. It providesbroader coverage and access, and will benefit more people, especiallyvulnerable and disadvantaged groups. It will also strengthen partnerships withother multilateral development banks, development partners, and bilateraldonors.

The World Bank now begins an intensive preparation andtraining period (12-18 months) to prepare for the transition to the newframework. The framework is expected togo into effect in early 2018.

Implementation will focus on supporting and strengtheningthe capacity of borrowers; training Bank staff and Borrowers to implement theframework; strengthening the Bank’s Environmental and Social Risk ManagementSystem; and strengthening strategic partnerships with developmentpartners. The World Bank’s currentsafeguards are expected to run in parallel to the new ESF for about seven yearsto govern projects approved before the launch of the new ESF.


Assessing and managing environmental and social impacts inWorld Bank financed projects has been a core concern of the institution formore than 40 years. The Bank’s currentpolicies, issued nearly 20 years ago, were for years viewed as setting thestandards for Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) in protections for peopleand the environment.

The current safeguards review began in July 2012.Responding in part to a 2010 report from the World Bank’s IndependentEvaluation Group (IEG), the Board instructed management to revise the existingsafeguards policies to increase coverage, social inclusion, and harmonization acrossthe Bank Group; enhance client capacity, responsibility and ownership;strengthen safeguards supervision, monitoring, evaluation to ensure rigorousimplementation of our policies; and improve accountability and grievanceredress systems and instruments for communities and individuals who want toexpress their concerns about World Bank-financed investment projects.

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