The aim of the meeting was to discuss the final version of the World Bank Management Report to the EIR, and consider what implications this will now have for project implementation and lending in recipient countries. Bank and IFC staff members who attended included Director, Environment and Social Development Department, IFC Rachel Kyte, Rashad Kaldany, director of the World Bank Group’s Oil, Gas, Mining, and Chemicals Department and Steve Litner, the Senior Advisor on Safeguards.
NGO attendees at the meeting included representatives from Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, Ghana, Russia, Poland, US, Germany, Holland and UK. Topics raised by NGOs at the meeting focused on: Governance; Human Rights; Poverty Issues and Indicators; the Advisory Committee; and lending for renewables.
By way of introduction, Kaldany explained that there had been broad consensus on a number of issues at board level over the World Bank Management Response to the EIR, although some minor modifications had been made to it in August (see Update 42 and 41). The final Management Response was made public on 30 September. Kaldany felt the process had gone well, and that “a lot had been learned” as a result. He emphasized three areas of continuing work: good governance, social issues, environmental issues, which were referred to throughout the meeting:
- Good Governance: Currently there is less agreement within the board as to what this should involve but future decisions will be made public. There is also a commitment to develop “a core set of governance standards for providing a common framework”. Bank staff at the meeting also indicated that certain aspects of the CPIA would be made more public. As part of the EIR there are now new governance conditions, including on transparency, security forces along pipeline projects where there is a risk of conflict. In addition to this, Rachel Kyte referred to a “plethora of research and work” that may lead to new indicators.
- Social issues: There is “broad understanding and support” for this issue. He underlined that the IFC must ensure that benefits accrue to local communities and civil society involvement would be welcomed. He explained that the issue of Free Prior and Informed Consultation, would be “developed as we go forward”.
- Environmental issues: Kaldany referred to precious minerals guidelines, progress on oil and gas, and an update of the Safeguard policies.
Samuel Nguiffo from the Centre for Environment and Development, Cameroon asked how best to include governance issues in resource rich African countries, and questioned the link between country assistance strategies and the extractives sector. Abdulai Darimani, from Third World Network Africa asked if there would be revenue transparency measures connected with the West Africa Gas Pipeline
In response to a question on the integration of human rights and the EIR, Rachel Kyte underlined the importance of understanding the interaction between human rights and governance, and their relationship to the investment climate. She explained that the World Bank’s understanding of rights had operational implications for the IFC and acknowledged that there were gaps on human rights in relation to safeguards. She explained that the IFC was developing tools that could be used by its clients, and that it was talking to ‘human rights institutions’ and the UN Global Compact on this point. However, no reference was made to the international human rights framework, or any of the covenants or conventions that Bank member countries have ratified.
Poverty Issues and Indicators
It was emphasized by Kaldany that the IFC has “a lot to learn”, in relation to poverty, and that there is much scope for “learning by doing”. In response to such an approach there were a number of concerns raised. For example, Jonathan Glennie from Christian Aid questioned the IFC’s assumption that its projects will reduce poverty, and referred to examples in the Philippines and Peru whereby local people have lost out under the ‘learning by doing’ approach. He asserted that the IFC should not invest unless it could be certain that it would lead to poverty reduction in the local area.
Rachel Kyte responded that they were updating performance standards in a “sufficiently comprehensive” way, and providing technical advice to communities in order that they be able to make an informed decision. However, government resources are often insufficient to pay for an independent expert to work with the communities. Kaldany asserted that they are trying to raise funds to fill that gap.
Delphine Djiraibe, from the Chadian Association for the Promotion and Defence of Human Rights asked what the IFC had learned from the Chad Cameroon pipeline. Kaldany responded that they had put a lot of resources into it, and learned a lot, although he failed to clarify what exactly had been learned. He also confirmed that there have been “no disasters so far”.
Knud Voecking from Urgewald, Germany raised a question regarding the Advisory group’s terms of reference, mandate and the timeline for it’s establishment. He suggested that NGOs would assist develop terms of reference. Kaldany responded that they would be putting out a draft over the next few weeks, and that NGOs would have the opportunity to comment, which would assist the IFC’s ‘learning process’.
A question was raised on behalf of Sustainable Energy and Economy Network (SEEN) who had been unable to attend the meeting. It asked why the World Bank management response contained overinflated numbers on renewables lending, when in previous written correspondence with SEEN, the Bank had admitted its error in overestimating these numbers. Bank staff at the meeting responded that the NGO was mistaken on this point.
An overall message from Mr Kaldany was that the real lesson from the EIR is that the World Bank Group needs to do a better job of telling the story and communicating what the Bank does.
At the end of the meeting, NGOs expressed severe disappointment at the evasiveness of the discussion, and have issued a statement in response, which will be made public shortly