Safeguards consultation, World Bank, 16 April 2011

18 April 2011 | Minutes

Stephen Lintner, OPCS Senior technical advisor, World Bank

  • Very early stages of the process – will run through 2011 and 2012 – no decisions made in the short term
  • Safeguards should be seen as instruments that integrate social and environmental aspects into decision-making process.
  • Provide a mechanism for integreation of concerns into design, implementation and operatino of an investment.
  • Key factor – identify and manage impacts and risks (or decide to back down if the risks are too high)
  • Since 1999 Bank has had mandatory requirement for consultation and disclosure of environmental and social assessments
  • Safeguards do improve effectiveness of projects – set up to facilitate looking at environmental and soial aspects of a project.
  • Over past 20 years most countries have adopted mandatory environmental assessments and safeguards. Need to recognise that there are countries where this is not effectively enforced.
  • Board has mandated updating and consolidation of safeguards
  • Will allow for evolution of system – to better address environmental and social impacts
  • Want to make system more effective and efficient

9 policies covered in update process:

  • Environmental
  • natural habitats
  • forests
  • pest management
  • physical and cultural resources
  • indigenous peoples
  • dam safety
  • involuntary resettlement
  • piloting use of country systems

Idea is to develop a single policy framework which includes robust coverage of the issues, but in a way that is easier to access, understand and to use.

Need to have a good balance of focus on different impacts – environmental, social ,economic etc

Legal safeguard policies not included in this process – international waterways and projects in disputed areas will remain.

SO there will be three policies at the end of the process.


  • Needs to be a robust process, building on best practices
  • Notified well in advance – website will exist
  • Also proposal to have a unified website for all consultations
  • Important to note that only one section in Bank is dealing with a lot of these, will help coordination.
  • Consultations with governments at national and subnational level.
  • Also private sector, academics, professional organisations, indigenous peoples leadser, CSOs, NGOs, development partners.
  • Also want to have forums with new donors about this.
  • Private sector is important given that we work with IFC and MIGA and beacuse of large and heavy commitment from private sector organisations particularly the equator banks.
  • Anticipating that bulk of consultations will start in late fall of 2011 and run through to fall 2012 – they will not be rushed.
  • Will have materials in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish – the main United nations languages.
  • Consultations will be documented


  • Oct 2011 – initial draft of OP/BP to CODE
  • Nov2011 – Mar 2012 – 1st stage of consultations
  • Apr 2012 – revised draft to CODE + record of consultations
  • May – Sep 2012 – 2nd phase of consultations
  • Oct-Nov 2012 – final draft to CODE
  • Nov-Dec – Board presentation and potential approval.

Testing some frameworks that will show how the new policy is changing the old one. www.worldbank.org/Safeguards

Vince McKillhenny, Bank Information Center

  • IEG review of safeguards last year – did an analysis of perception that costs outweigh benefits: found no empirical evidence of this, in fact found that development benefits do outweigh the costs.
  • IEG looked at rationale for how safeguards were designed – to prevent harm. Over time, evolution has gone beyond this to a more postive agenda – to promote positive impacts. reflect on whether we can codify this.
  • Struggling to understand convergence between investment lending reform, P4R and safeguards. Expect that this will mean for example, revision of supervision policy, appraisal of project methodologies
  • Policies are important, but systems and incentives have as much or more impact – would like these to be included. For example impact of who controls the budget
  • Challenges that Bank faces in terms of monitoring results – very little incentive to even collect information to monitor social and environmental results.

Paul, WOrld Bank

  • Evolution – cross cutting theme across all policies.
  • Safeguards were often seen as compliance tasks – important dimension is how to make them part of results.
  • Are our other policies as supportive of Bank safeguard policies – willing to hear examples where they aren’t

Comments and questions

  • P4R is on fast track – but threatens to be most important. Only thing off the table for P4R is category A. These safeguards will not apply to P4R. If a country has robust system, don’t need P4R – can give DPLs. Countries won’t need country systems if they can get P4R
  • What about missing policies, such as core labour standards?
  • There should be two rounds of face to face consultation
  • Hope you won’t follow the IFC’s example of putting responsibility for due diligence onto the client
  • How will you address financial intermediaries?
  • What about human rights?
  • Will this result in an expansion of safeguards or a shrinking?
  • Affected communities should be included in the list of stakeholders
  • Translation into languages where the consultations happen, and where World Bank has large programmes
  • Documents needed 30 days before consultations and participants lists should be made public, with notes posted

World Bank response

  • IEG evaluation identified strengths and weaknesses
  • Agree should do more to muster evidence of the value of safeguards
  • Capacity building should be done in parallel
  • Needs to be cleare about links with other processes and why Bank can’t use country systems instead of P4R
  • Policies do create incentives
  • Do need to come up with better results indicators for environmental and social impacts
  • IFC has a comparative advantage on labour standards – keen to hear ideas on this.Will be having discussions with public and private clients.
  • Agree on need for face to face consultation in the second round – often complex questions during round two
  • Will look into consulting with affected people
  • Investment lending will remain dominant lending instrument for a long time to come. P4R will not become default for non category A projects
  • Can’t have divergent policies across instruments – need convergence
  • Currently borrower needs to be in compliance with international treaties – not in IFIs charters to determine compliance

Comments and Questions

  • Important to have track changed versions
  • ADB and OPIC have stronger policies – ADB took a 5 year process to develop them
  • You should include spring or annual meeting consultations
  • G20 high level panel looking at all safeguards – final report due in November 2011 – needs to be made public
  • Difference between safeguards which are binding and the principles that underpin P4R and DPL, which are non-binding
  • Chance to take a human rights- based approach
  • Should be no policy dilution
  • Clearer policy for relations with CSOs needed

World Bank response

  • Will pass on concerns over lending mix of Bank
  • need to be clear on what will apply to what and on oversight and control
  • Objective is not to dilute policy
  • Language translations will be considered on a case by case basis