World Bank safeguard review and CSOs approaches in their engagement

12 October 2012 | Minutes

Sponsor: Aksi, ‘Ulu Foundation, JACSES, Urgewald

Interaction between the Bank and CSOs on the approach paper through this panel provided an opportunity for the Bank and CSOs to highlight areas of importance and provide input about the direction of the safeguard review.

Panelists: Yuki Tanabe (JACSES, Japan), Titi Soentoro (Aksi, Indonesia), Stephanie Fried (‘Ulu Foundation, Hawaii), Korinna Horta (Urgewald, Germany)

Facilitator: Pol Vandervoot, 11.11.11


Jahangir Masum, CPD Bangladesh

  • Speaking as a victim of a WBG project – shrimp farming project; EIA for the project said not land use change; but now our mango forests are completely gone; local people cannot participate in the shrimp farming industry because of lack of capital
  • People can be made very miserable, so we cannot call these things safeguards especially as it did not improve living standards
  • Prolonged suffering from the project – 1985 project is still having impacts; reduced food security because of project – reduced rice cultivation, reduced fishing
  • We need a mechanism to take care of this sort of malpractice

Yuki Tanabe, Jacses

  • Experiences on policy dilution of WB and ADB safeguards – the two objectives are similar to have a more results focus
  • ADB safeguard review ended up with many attempts at dilution – requirements on policy checks, selective compliance, lack of key processes
  • Similar things happened in P4R – selective processes, no gap filling, no mitigation hierarchy, public consultations, etc
  • What is policy dilution? Shift from requirement to selective approach, selective principle criteria, delete key requirements/steps/timings, declassification of the “no go zone”

Titi Soentoro, Aksi

  • Response of Indonesian civil society based on our experience in Indonesia and the ADB safeguard review process – call for no policy dilution; we welcome Dr. Kim’s statement of no intention for policy dilution
  • Must have primacy of the interests and needs of the people, as Indonesia is a big borrower, must have consultation and translation in Bahasa Indonesia; we want no dilution, upward harmonization
  • Safeguard review must look at political situation on the ground and take the lessons from the Inspection Panel
  • Some specific asks for Indonesia – upward harmonization, gender considerations, transparent consultation, translation of documents

Stephanie Fried, Ulu Foundation

  • Violation of guidelines can’t be subject to IP requests, this is a key issue and concern if the review moves items from policies to guidelines
  • From the WB approach paper – focus on needs of “borrowers” rather than people, used “harmonization “ but could be a race to the bottom, prciniples are good but need mandatory implementation measures
  • Focus on the IFC harmonization – IFC delegates monitoring and implementation to the client – this trust approach is much less strong than the WB’s safeguards
  • Highest/best standards – longer comment period/disclosure requirements; IFI must maintain responsibility for due diligence and oversight; IFI has responsible for ensuring compliance; EIA for all project components; gender language; FI rules for management approval of sub-projects; follow host country obligations under international law; FPIC documentation; binding language on Env and Social standards in all contracts
  • Country systems-type approach without Country Safeguard Systems (CSS) – CSS requires finding of equivalence and documentation; but now the WB is moving to country systems-type approaches like P4R/DPL/IL Reform which are an end-run around CSS
  • What does “integration” with borrower systems mean? This Country systems approach should only be used in countries with good track records, protection of communities, and democratic non-corrupt systems
  • Paris Declaration – also has a focus on transparency, participation and accountability
  • Rule of law is a prerequisite, think about trust us versus mandatory standards, delegation of responsibility is “out of sight, out of mind”

Pol Vandervoot, 11.11.11

  • In Europe we are focussing on this review process through NGO meeting, and discussions with ED and our Southern partners
  • In Belgium as an example we will have a land campaign and bring these issues up; we are also working with Belgian parliamentarians

Stephen Lintner, World Bank

  • There is no plan to delegate responsibilities to national governments; the WB legal staff and environmental and social staff certify equivalence on a policy by policy basis; also operation by operation basis of assessment to look at ESIAs for example; mgmt. and staff have an obligation of due diligence; less than 30 project out of 1200 use country systems; IEG thinks we are being too restrictive on the use of country systems
  • We are definitely going to be reflecting on lessons learned from the IEG and IP – 80 cases in 19 years out of 1,000s of projects; IEG found safeguards added value and that in Cat A projects WB performance is commendable – no wholesale problems
  • Lots of concern about the motivation behind the review process – we see this as outcome of IEG report, as well as need to reflect changes in development landscape; we are not trying to harmonize to the bottom; we are trying to bring everyone up to higher standards; we use higher standards of partners when they are available
  • Problem is operationalization of policies and guidance, especially when they are not fully consistent; the board is the party that makes these decisions, not staff or management
  • We are planning face-to-face consultations in every part of the world, to get a diverse range of views from a wide variety of stakeholders


Brittany Shannahan, BIC – how is the Bank going to make this accessible to people with disabilities
Hana Heinekin, Global Witness – are review of Bank procedures included in safeguard review?
Vince McElhinny, BIC – central debate will be about going beyond current country systems, equivalence in a new framework – look at IFC work on FIs and risk classification based on FIs social and environmental management systems. This is analogous; shows the WB will go forward without strict equivalence. Right now you can’t under a results-based system, measure quivalence

Stephen Lintner

  • we definitely will discuss with disability groups, we have some communications with them already over the past 1.5 years, this has been raised and we will pursue it with them
  • OPs and BPs will both be discussed
  • On equivalence – we must distinguish (1) IL use of country systems on Env/Soc – this is measureable; from (2) P4R systems which is much smaller. P4R mechanism must evolve before we can assess it. Category A projects not to be funded under P4R now because we think the programme is not robust enough to deal with such complex projects.
  • Safeguards were developed for use on large-scale infrastructure and natural resource type projects – very relevant; but for other types of projects the safeguards might not be good tools and might not get the results we all want

Stephanie Fried

  • Disconnect in conversations – we are not talking about “Use of country Systems” formal CSS programme, we are flagging the other national systems approaches like P4R
  • We also worry about miscategorisation and category deflation for example in India and China, lots of ‘high B’ projects
  • I disagree about safeguards not being applicable to new types of projects – based on my evidence from research of money laundering – it is all about layering, underneath the impact is there
  • OPIC no longer uses IFC standards because they are too weak, they do assessments on FIs

Titi Soentoro – issues are information & consultation. Depends on the political situation – ie in Indonesia for consultation the police and military are in the room intimidating people