Largely due to the persistent efforts of NGOs and some Executive Directors, the International Finance Corporation (IFC-a private sector support arm of the World Bank Group) has unveiled a series of reviews and new initiatives.
The IFC‘s strategy review consultants have also begun their work. Oliver, Wyman and Company, based in New York have been doing interviews with selected commentators, including the Bretton Woods Project, banks and large companies in London in December. Their findings will help IFC senior management set goals for the next five to ten years. Looking at perceptions of the IFC, and its operating environment, the consultants are focussing on:
- trade-offs between sustainable development and project profitability;
- fundamental market drivers and their effects on demand for MDB services;
- the comparative positioning of the IFC compared to other development and private banks;
- where the IFC should be more and where less involved;
- how the IFC can be more effective in promoting positive (eg green) development.
At the end of January the IFC released a board paper proposing improvements and clarifications to its information disclosure and environmental/social policies. There is a public comment period ending on 20 March. As it is extensive and complex, Friends of the Earth and the Bank Information Center are preparing a summary of key issues to help guide groups interested in submitting comments.
IFC has also just released two external reports on related issues. The first uses 8 case studies to assesses how effectively the IFC and its business clients consult with affected communities and the public. As a result the IFC is developing a handbook to explain to clients what public participation means and how consultation should be done. The second study evaluates how well IFC has complied with its environmental and social policies using desk review and site visit evidence on over 100 projects.
The IFC recently created an environmental review unit and an Environmental Projects Unit.
Information on the above available on the IFC‘s web page (www.ifc.org) or from the IFC, 2121 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington DC 20433, USA.
Oliver, Wyman and Co. can be contacted at: 666 Fifth Ave., New York 10103, USA, Fax: 001 212 541 8957.