CSO meeting with acting IFC director, Assad Jabre

27 September 2005 | Resource

Approximately 18 civil society organisations attended the meeting. IFC representatives included: Assad Jabre, acting director, IFC; Rachel Kyte, director, Environment and Social Development Department; Joe O’Keefe, head of corporate relations; Kent Lupberger, senior manager of mining investments; and Clive Armstrong from the oil, gas mining and chemicals department. The meeting was chaired by Manish Bapna of Bank Information Centre.

The main focus of the meeting was in relation to the IFC’s safeguard policy review, but also touched on the Glamis goldmine project in Guatemala, and the Amaggi soy project in Brazil. It was highly disappointing and served minimal purpose given that it was held before the (delayed) release of the revised drafts of the IFC’s sustainability policy, performance standards and disclosure policy. On this issue, concerns raised by civil society organisations were very similar to those expressed at previous consultations (see below). As before, the responses provided by the IFC were unsubstantial. If nothing else the meeting provided CSOs with the opportunity to raise these issues with the acting IFC head, Assad Jabre, who previously may not have been fully aware of them.

In brief summary, points and concerns raised by CSO representatives included:

  • the dramatic departure of the performance standards from a rules-based approach
  • the glaring absence of international standards on environment, labour and human rights
  • the fact that the highly comprehensive analysis submitted as part of the consultation process appears to have been largely ignored
  • queries regarding how the IFC would report on the implementation of its performance standards
  • the understanding that the rules will now be placed in an action plan, and lack of clarity as to when this will be released
  • request for the clarification on the definition of “broad community support”

The IFC’s responses can be summarised thus:

  • the new performance standards are much more comprehensive
  • it will be easier for stakeholders and clients to know what is expected of them
  • the emphasis is on the action plan, and CSOs should look at the corporate procedure for a better understanding
  • training will be undertaken to ensure that people are “staffed up” on issues such as labour
  • the new performance standards are allowing IFC staff to dedicate resources where they are needed most
  • the standards are not being watered down.

Graham Saul from Friends of the Earth Canada asked a question in relation to the Amaggi Soy project in Brazil (see Updates 44, 46), and the IFC’s response to the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman’s audit which was an inadequate three lines long.

The last word of the meeting was had by Mr Kent who referred to the IFC as a “lightning rod” and defiantly challenged participants at the meeting to find another environmental/ development institution that does more things and better than the IFC.

A 60-day window has now begun for the public to make final comments on the drafts, before they go to the Board for consideration in January.