Review and update of the World Bank’s environmental and social safeguard policies: Consultations report-out and accountability

15 April 2016

15 April 2016 | Minutes

Sponsor: Operational Policy and Country Services [OPCS], World Bank


  • Hartwig Schafer, Vice President, OPCS
  • Mark Alan King, Chief Environmental and Social Standards Officer, OPCS
  • Charles di Leva, Chief Counsel, World Bank
  • Dilek Barlas, Executive Secretary, The Inspection Panel
  • Gonzalo Castro de la Mata, Chairperson, The Inspection Panel
  • Alex Sardar, Chief Innovation Officer – Civicus (moderator)

The most recent series of consultations on the World Bank’s proposed draft Environmental and Social Framework (ESF) spanned 33 countries – including 30 borrowing countries – and focused on the implementability of the proposed framework. This session provided a summary of the feedback received and lessons learned, and discussed the role of the Inspection Panel using the draft framework to better understand the implications.

[incomplete notes, starting 30m in]

Mark King

  • Why are we looking at cumulative impacts, it’s a standard practice – that’s why we look at it
  • What do we do in situations re down stream impacts, capacity building and borrower supporter
  • Stakeholder engagement, concerns about gov role and ability to influence who we engage with, more control over who the stakeholders are
  • Concerns over sexual orientation and identify, many countries in Africa, Muslim world, former Soviet union, some Caribbean countries expressing concerns – homosexuality is illegal in their countries etc
  • Concerns about biodiversity, is the standard to onerous
  • Multi stakeholder meetings, largely talked about the same issues – are we doing enough for the poor, indigenous peoples, labour and working conditions, stakeholder engagement, make sure a wide range of stakeholders are involved, as inclusive as possible, non-discr and vulnerable group – mainstream in monitoring and supervision, incl LGBTI and disabled people
  • Climate change and GHG, supportive standpoint
  • Borrower frameworks, would we support CSO points on this, the pilot use of country systems allows input by CSOs
  • Assessment of management of social and environmental impacts
  • Human rights I the framework, incl more explicit language
  • Need for capacity building
  • Adaptive risk management, co-financing with other institutions
  • Donor countries: biodiversity, concerns over loss of resources at the top
  • CSOs and donors in unison, in part in Europe
  • Least discussed cultural heritage, capacity building
  • Expert Focus Groups, labour, link to procurement packages – core labour standards already included, but many countries didn’t realise
  • Should have a labour advisory group a suggestion
  • Environmental and social assessments, methodologies of assessments
  • Non-discrimination, disaggregating data – have to do it so certain groups aren’t put at risk
  • Engaging as early as possible in borrowing cycle
  • IPs, meeting in Addis, range of stakeholders, 5 African governments to HC on HR, expert panel, special rapporteur et
  • Two issues: the title of the standard – “historically underserved traditionally local communities” agreed definition
  • FIs, not appropriate for local banks to disclose env & soc information to their clients, but could ask to do so
  • Stakeholder engagement regarding sub-projects, resp of borrower not institution
  • Next steps, CODE group will continue working, made huge progress, know what we need to do, green light to prepare a new draft, in an iterative way discuss with the board, rather than presenting a third and final draft
  • When it goes to CODE, have a lot of work to do – culture change exercise on eg involuntary resettlement, building capacity internally, quality controls, but a massive exercise to build capacity – 30 staff involved in implementation plan

Q ITUC on labour, focus group discussion, full report on website, some labour union people but only 3 out of 15. Problems with lack of reference to ILO standards, that all other dev banks have. Challenge of implementation. Lack of ratification, same thing with other conventions, eg child labour – a bit of a double standard. Since 1998 a condition of membership of ILO, doesn’t make any sense to exclude.

Q From ILO, can you elaborate on what came out of the labour group.

Q BIC what came out of the discussion with Kim re way forward, we hear that the discrimination clause form ESS1 is to be taken out into guidance note – this is a killer for support for safeguards and IDA replenishment, needs a good resolution on this.

Q Oxfam adaptive risk management wasn’t discussed as heavily as others, as you rewrite the next draft, this piece needs to get right, early disclosure, etc, need to be discussed for risk management to be successful. Secondly, everybody is watching what is happen, it will be a great disappointment if you fail to live up to international standards, taking out certain pieces is a major disappointment.

Q BIC climate change, where will the GHG threshold be, as not to also contradict the climate action plan

Hartwig Schafer

  • comment re guidance note is wrong, was not discussed with Kim
  • want to keep the strong language on protection, guidance is non mandatory, not under IPN, we have the policy and the standards, then procedures, directives and regulations under the IPN
  • Kim asked us to move this forward, work on the draft, fully committed to get this done before the summer, but we need to work together as the EDs need to agree

Charles di Leva

  • one of our instructions, look to harmonise with the IFC, the PS resulted in divisive discussion at the board – difference between public and private sector
  • IFC ref to ILO, in part guided by the standards – when we tried to harmonise, our standards, directives, are mandatory
  • Going through the IFC, we didn’t want to use language that is not mandatory – being guided by conventions doesn’t mean specificity
  • The conventions mean progressive realisation
  • ILO said recognise that WB projects labourers don’t fit within ILO convention – we believe in a development context


  • the framework is about the development of these countries from an environmental and social perspective, benchmarking towards our framework, helping them – progressive realisation, not just in labour standards
  • if there are problems to reach them, we need to recognise this, but have to aim over time to make these countries better
  • adaptive risk management, how we implement the standards, editorial today in ODI re the framework going forward, not having a one-size fits all, and it is not
  • standards have to be met the default position, if there are circumstances as under the OP, we need to disclose this so that stakeholders can take a view
  • if we see things that needs to be done differently that needs to be put up front, so that people can react
  • staff directory in next package, will deal with the principles of discr and exclusion
  • on GHG threshold, lots of discussion, some would like it in for certainty, concerns about who will do this where there is no expertise – this has been taken on-board re IDA, cross-cutting solution areas
  • technically and financially feasibility language, recognise that there is limitations to what can be done – has to be some ‘practical limitation’, that’s reality
  • where we propose something that deviates from the standards will be disclosed as early as possible
  • on ILO advisory body, we will hire labour experts internally, into OPS, GPs, and legal – we see the need to build relationships with partners in a variety of areas, eg re on SOGI, will be developing in different areas
  • talking to governments about seconding staff on labour issues

Q Rainforest Foundation: biodiversity standard, recipient countries worried about not being able to use natural resources, but have also committed to SDGs, would be counter productive to open up for anything else. On IPs, are we potentially loosing anything on the retitling of the standard, should I be worried? What happened to the consent discussion?

Q BIC huge leap into the new approach, and that implementation plan will be part of next package, all will call money – question about funding, would like to see the number.

Q Urgewald environmental and social commitment plan, legally binding, have to be signed, guaranteeing that the standards are being observed and implemented – but it seems to be made up as you go along, how is this possible when they need to be agreed upon before financing is approved


  • work that is ongoing, team looking at budget, staffing, M&E
  • want system as we roll this out, that we can measure
  • on budget advocate that it is adequately funded, last year increased and ring fenced funding
  • reassurance from Kim that the new framework will be fully funded, additional staff is being recruited
  • we are in the process of costing it up


  • will be establishing readiness indicators, when we can turn the new framework on
  • when CODE approves the package, we will have a year of gearing up developing stuff, after that we will be able to launch – but will be guided by readiness indicators
  • will be a big bang launch on day 1 rather than phased approached
  • commitment plan is legally binding, but we want to have the ability to practice adaptive management – if we agree with the board to address a set of issues, but then see it is not working as expected, want to be able to address
  • can change commitment plan by side letter, that is also legally binding
  • ESS10, any changes in a project would need to be disclosed and consulted on
  • On IPs, we are not loosing anything, the standards stays as it is
  • For a lot of these issues it’s purely the title that they don’t like – so we changed to the title that is less offensive but marks the issues

Bill Rahill, Director, Environment & Natural Resources, World Bank Group

  • in consultations, didn’t get the sense of countries that ESS6 would limit their use of resources, but WB needs to be on offensive by supporting our clients to develop tools, eg re wealth accounting, so that they can make decisions and factor in the real value of natural capital
  • this will lead to better decision


  • role of the IPN going forward, Kenya x2, Nepal
  • the IPN mandate will not be changed, but provides more clarity about what staff and borrowers are required to do
  • hope it will be easier for IPN to hold us accountable, wider range of issues to which accountability applies
  • Kenya electricity expansion project: all the ten standards are part of terms and condition of the WB, don’t need to trigger anything with the board
  • IPN findings, eg displacement, housing solutions – all can be interpreted within the existing Ops, but new framework clearer
  • ESS7, do people fit the criteria? Eg re Maasai, criteria remains the same
  • ESS10 more prescriptive approach to consultation, emphasis on inclusive approach, also GRS re grievance, but can also go straight to IPN
  • Nepal: concern around transmission line resettlement, also re eminent domain question from government
  • Eg lack of compliance in analysis of alternatives, capacity building of project partner – going forward need to assess project risks and actions in commitment plan – lack of grievance mechanism
  • New standard more explicit re practical steps, adaptive risk management, should be able to identify issues rising, ESS10 clear on how consultations should take place
  • Kenya natural resources management project: more attention needed on the evicted people, new framework provides this
  • ESS5 on resettlement, lack of compliance, not following up properly – going forward imperative on capacity
  • ESS7 if considered indigenous before, would be now
  • If material changes in the project, they need to be made clear and discussed – feel this is in new framework
  • Final conclusion, eg more effective consultation, but all is done to implementation and staff resources

Gonzalo Castro de la Mata

  • IPN will put statement on the web later today
  • Have followed the process very closely, will comment on road testing
  • Comment, highlighting lessons on issues impacting on implementation
  • Not appropriate to comment on substantive changes, but stand by no dilution of safeguards
  • Protection by safeguards are not only real but necessary
  • Impact on our role, the current draft should not impede the IPN’s work, our mandate to investigate harm
  • Acknowledge better risk management, land, etc, but the root cause of many flaws were not with the policy but with implementation – need stronger supervision
  • Clarity on the WB roles is essential for us to function, understand mandatory env & soc procedure, point to special attention to risks with extended use of borrower systems – we don’t investigate clients, we investigate the bank

Q Honduras, rep Cardinal, we need something different regarding ethics, ecological ecumenical from Pope Francis.

Q German Inst for HR, IPN role with the new safeguards, a lot of discretionary terms – will the IPN’s competence include this margin of discretion


  • borrower frameworks, things have moved forward, where there are systems in place, why not use their rather than ours
  • allows us to benchmark countries and build capacities
  • concern about the detail, if we decide to use a country framework, what they produce is still subject to bank review and approval – we are allowing them to use their own systems, the end result is to attain the standard
  • if they produce ESIA, the outcomes, impacts, are unacceptable, we won’t finance the project – not handing over responsibility, allowing them to do it in their way
  • assessing borrower frameworks, not just looking at paper, what is the track record on implementing laws and regulations, where we give we can also give back
  • more ownership over their own projects, opening up capacity building on a range of issues – not deferring our fiduciary responsibilities
  • would be disclosed as early as possible if we are using a country framework, also our findings, and we would expect comments from civil society
  • will prepare a short guidance note on value of civil society in third party framework
  • route cause of all problems that have been identified through IPN cases have been staff resources


  • ethics and individual responsibility is at the heart of our responsibility
  • interpretation, we have always been able to use judgement on what it means to not produce harm – then becomes practice

Dilek Barlas

  • starting point is harm, with discretion if it was reasonable
  • clarity on this discretion will of course help us and WB management

Q Global Peace Services, how much are you in conversation with investigative journalists

Q Urgewald FI lending, IFC under heavy fire on this, how do you judge your ability to look into FI cases – the FI clients are not willing to disclose sub-projects.

Q IPN guidelines for staff, no investigation where we haven’t looked in some way of guidance, part of the jurisdiction – but understand these guideline

Q Bretton Woods Project who is accountable under the country borrower system if Inspection Panel can only hold WB to account

Charles di Leva

  • guidelines vs guidance, documents can be used but not mandatory for staff, IFC PS includes guidance documents
  • borrower systems, under policies and bank procedures, ESS10 – supervision of application, WB responsibility
  • IPN not confined to look at WB policies


  • on FIs, a question for CODE re more comprehensive coverage of these issues
  • Uzbekistan, sub-projects in farms could have child labour, WB acknowledged these risks


  • won’t be easy, need everybody’s commitment over the next three months, need to find something that works for 189 shareholders
  • need to build capacity, will create strong foundation to achieve this – this is for decades to come