Update on WBG safeguard’s review process

12 April 2014 | Minutes

Sponsor: WBG (Safeguards Review Team)

Panelists: Stefan Koeberle (Director, Operational Policies Country Services), Mark King (Chief Officer, Environmental and  Social Standards), Charles di Leva (Chief Counsel), Una Mead, Ida Mori CHAIR: Sumir Lal (Manager, Operational Communications


  • Presentation to CODE in late June, once endorsed can move to next phase of review
  • We’ve made good progress in last few months, reviewing inputs
  • Comprehensive framework, taking into account often conflicting views, including governments to people affected on the ground
  • This is about values, what guided us with the inputs was the common vision
  • Inclusion at the centre of many of our development operations, to benefit from policies, equality of opportunity, remove barriers to those often excluded
  • Proposed framework, hope to bring these global aspirations to the project level
  • Do no harm and wellbeing
  • Includes existing social and env requirements
  • Include labour, community health and safety, climate, vulnerable groups
  • All affected communities must be seen and heard
  • Must be clear to understand, implement
  • Absorbs existing requirement, with broader and more enforceable standards
  • Tailored approach, taking into country context
  • Promotes a project based approach, not borrower based approach, focused on outcomes
  • Monitoring will be key – third party monitoring emphasised
  • Improve our own due diligence mechanisms


  • Inclusive process with stakeholder engagement
  • benefit from lessons learned
  • internally looking at staff capacity, roles and functions
  • From desk study, recent revisions by other MDBs have made considerable advances
  • Few of issues related to existing suite of policies, they have developed over years, in ad hoc reactive problems – eg problems with forests: forest policy
  • Problem with documents, not clear who is responsible for doing what
  • Great deal of focus on front loading, everything ready, but not following through – need better effort at monitoring and supervision
  • Strengthened policy framework, undiluted, better alignment with other financial institutions – helps with borrowers
  • Enhancing internal skills and capacity, bringing about culture change
  • Framework clear to understand, implement and clear to hold accountable
  • Overarching statement, with broad aspirational nature
  • Environmental and social policy, outlining WB broader objectives on env and social issues, describing role and responsibilities of the WB
  • Borrowers will have ten env and social standards, outlining req social and environmental outcomes
  • Supported by annex, mandatory requirements describing in more detail expectations
  • Underlying requirement a set of best practice notes, guidance and tools
  • Relationship between WB and borrower key
  • Trying to emphasise partnership, not just handing over set of standards – since we meet with a range of borrowers, including fragile and conflict states – important to work with borrowers
  • Will meet with borrowers to capture practicality
  • Proposed standards absorbs all existing WB policies and procedures
  • Standard 1 env and social, outlines requirements for robust social and env appraisals, including discrimination
  • Standard 2 labour and working conditions, including occupational health and safety in the work place
  • Standard 3 pollution and resource efficiency, including climate change
  • 4 community
  • 5 involuntary resettlement
  • 6 biodiversity
  • 7 indigenous peoples
  • 8 cultural heritage
  • 9 Financial intermediaries
  • 10 stakeholders, stakeholder engagement plans, meaningful consultation, process should continue after board approval to ensure anticipated outcomes are happening on the ground
  • latter two due to concerns raised
  • 1 and 10 provides a bedrock for how to carry out assessments
  • benefits of the approach – more emphasis on monitoring and supervision
  • focusing at the project level, to ensure we are working in a tailored fashion
  • focus on project outcomes, not procedural hoops
  • relying to a large extent on existing regulatory frameworks
  • partnership, will meet early to discuss expectations a range of social and env issues that needs to be addressed – where we agree that they have robust systems, we will rely on these
  • where we identify concerns, we will work with the borrower to build capacity to achieve the outcomes we expect
  • complemented at strategic national level, will have conversations with countries on env and social challenges they face
  • working from bottom up, at the project level, and top down at the strategic level
  • fragile and conflict state work, will work with them to ensure they can meet the requirements based on their resources
  • important to deploy resources where they are required
  • need to be inclusive, ESS 1, definition will reflect a broad range of issues, including sexual orientation, disability and gender – build on national requirements as appropriate
  • labour ESS2 including child labour, expecting to meet obligations they have already signed up to
  • ESS3 resource efficiency, including water, climate change and adaptation
  • These standards are providing the main safeguard cover, but part of the bigger jigsaw – complement WB work
  • ESS4 community health and safety, incl security, emergency cover and response
  • ESS5 involuntary resettlement, building on existing policy, clarifying language – some issues to be resolved
  • ESS6 biodiversity, reflecting need of mitigation hierarchy to be followed, including offset, broader coverage of biodiversity issues, sustainable harvesting of resources
  • ESS7 indigenous peoples, remain stand alone, but taking into account regional differences, moving to FPIC and clarity on issues
  • ESS8 cultural heritage, clarifications
  • ESS9 FIs, setting up firm requirements
  • ESS10 stakeholder engagement
  • All part of a solution, also need to think about how to develop the procedures, and build an oversight process in the WB
  • Capacity building in WB, strengthening in our VP the ability to provide policy guidance and advice to our own staff, clarifying accountability and decision making, build capacity on new issues, and strengthen staff accreditation – will be accredited to different levels, depending on risk
  • Advisory group in OPCS VP, provide advice to global practices and regional VPs
  • Hope to address a number of themes, concerns and deficiencies – to up the game of WB across the board, provide greater clarity internally and externally
  • Time frame, to CODE 25 June, then either back to drawing board or begin second round of consultation
  • When will it all be finished? Key element is the CODE meeting, indication on where we go and how long it will take from there on
  • Once we’ve got the go ahead we will start the next round of meetings


Q: Will see a drive to other mechanisms, such as DPL. LGBT and SOGI issues, consultations will be very important – 85 countries with discriminations, how to do consultations with these.

Q: Areas of concern, accountability problems when a project close. Underassessment, underfinanced problems. Timing, because of delay of social and env impacts. Position within the legal agreement, requirement to transparency. Flexibility, shift towards resettlement plan vs resettlement policy framework, latter trust me agreements. Get nervous when you mention flexibility, but has to be clear what the policy instruments being used is.


  • Considering how to get consultations right


  • focusing on investment lending, emphasis on dialogue in other for a
  • every instrument advantages and disadvantages, in a full engagement with a country we can use a range of insruments, the best the WB can offer – don’t look at it in isolation


  • have to monitor a project over a length of time, time frames are important
  • important to have a commitment of the standards required
  • people will need to have enough information on projects, look forward to working together


  • flexibility also makes many of our shareholders nervous

Di Leva

  • transparency and legal agreements, we have always been able to publish these, but can look at how to make them accessible to local communities – includes the commitment plan

Q: Respect for ILO convention, significant WB development. By same logic hope borrowers will live up to other rights. Further clarification on what more comprehensive treatment of land means. Concerned forced evictions only mentioned in indigenous peoples policy – should be a requirement across all peoples.

Q: Sometimes lack of staff, not knowledge – financing important. If we rely more on country systems, good if it supports their development, will there be financial resources in this direction too. ESS1 and 3, climate change adaptation doesn’t really have to do with pollution.

Q: Danger of being more reactive than proactive, with do no harm. Almost no ref to human rights, etc, ref to ILO – the only place I can see reluctant to HR would be in Beijing, yet China has detailed and clear HR action plan, should be able to work with this government. Needs a HR framework for discrimination work.  Need to move to rights based development. Decision on rights should not be done at this level, should go to the board.

Di Leva

  • Following land consultation, have been looking at the guidelines and land tenure, also looking at food security
  • Studied what other IFIs have done in terms of requirements on a legal level
  • Labour rights – looking at case by case basis


  • devil is in the detail, talking here in a more generalised sense – difficult to talk in specific details, not yet approved by the board
  • power and vulnerable group, will need to be considered by any social impact assessments
  • In terms of rights, we are in deliberation, in discussion with the board
  • Are trying to address as many issues as we can in the standards, rights issues
  • On climate change, have had discussions on separate standards on climate, gender, etc – they need to be mainstreamed across all standards
  • Resources – an issue we need to consider, not just training, but also other capabilities


  • As we implement the standards, we need staff accredited and risk based allocation of staff – in particular in a resource constraint environment

Q: ES2 labour, mentioned verbally occupational health and safety, what is included there. Ref to non discrimination, no child labour. ILO has four standards, not two – covering 8 fundamental rights.

Q: What happens when there is no consent.

Q: Garifuna in Honduras, racial discrimination, when will WB look at this. Land grabs. Afro Latino communities, not represented in WB.

Q: Concern that what is there on discrimination is not consistent with international law, incl risk of political and other opinion. Human rights violations. Community security, what will be included. Stakeholder consultation, welcome FPIC, will this also include non indigenous communities.


  • have been looking at what other banks have been doing, but not just lifting from other institutions
  • afro descendants, importance for social impact element to be robust – look for all forms of discriminations (can’t comment on hiring issue)
  • not an exhaustive list, illustrative

Di Leva

  • focus is on project level, what we are financing needs to come up to our standards
  • FPIC, if a country has been ordered to comply with ILO, have to recognise there is diversity between countries how they interpret FPIC
  • Many countries have not ratified ILO, but can ask to recognised national framework and international obligations
  • Need to ensure we don’t acerbate conflict


  • need to deal with 188 countries, don’t support any violations of human rights

Q: Discrimination of benefits. More about stakeholder strategy. Upstream assessments, incl risk rating tools.

Q: Overlaps with CPF

Q: Monitoring and evaluation emphasis, but concerned there seems to be a trade off with frontloading. Need upfront and monitoring and supervision. What is mandatory. Indigenous peoples some countries claim they don’t have these, what will WB listen to.

Q: Indonesian forests a very difficult issue. Country system approach, best that WB has principles to always uphold the highest standards. Offset, this is a serious issue – no offset should be allowed in Indonesia, and no support for industrial logging.


  • case by case basis, no rule of how much frontloading is needed – key that people have enough information on env and social aspects
  • has to be clear what the rules are
  • outcomes we expect on the ground has to be the same
  • need to be clear on what is mandatory and what is not
  • WB has its standards, if the borrower country has higher standards than WB we will go with this
  • Indigenous peoples perception, we have heard that the indigenous peoples policy is not appropriate in Africa – need to discuss this
  • But rather than focusing on labelling people, need to focus on the outcomes of the projects
  • Project benefits, need to distribute in a fair and equitable manner
  • Important to identify who the stakeholders are at the beginning of a project
  • Screening, too much focus on triggering different policies – all standards will be applicable, some more than others depending on context
  • Is also looking at current categorisation – more appropriate to look at risks rather than categorisation, eg WBs system of four level of risks

Q: Involuntary resettlement, moving beyond do harm. Even before resettlement rights violated. Views on ICSCR and resettlement. Standard for WB recognising a treaty.

Q: Mandatory nature of safeguards important, otherwise dilution. Frontloading is not a bad thing. No mention of upward harmonisation, just harmonisation. Country systems. Procedural proof important, context need to be included, incl consolations. Architecture and scope. Industrial logging, IEG review. Lack of gender consideration.


  • all the issues are at the front end of what we are trying to address
  • no policy dilution, won’t rely on country systems when they are weaker than WB, also gender
  • frontloading is not a bad thing


  • framework with procedural standards is acceptable
  • response planning, need the standards, requirement to guide the plan
  • important to understand what is required, tied to conditionality, as and when it is expected

Di Leva

  • 1990s indigenous peoples policy, 2005 update
  • aware of long discussion at AfDB, decided not to have a policy on indigenous peoples
  • moving towards policies socially inclusive, carried out to address key issues – borrower to carry out assessment in line with standards, we will do due diligence based on this
  • not for the WB to assess whether borrower is in compliance, our obligation is towards our standards
  • CSOs can raise if anything is missing

Q: WB staff involved in safeguards should have a look at extreme poverty and human rights, ref to guiding principles agreed in 2012.

Q: Will there be explicit statement on human rights in new framework. Social assessment, lot of good and not so good practice in WB projects – will it include HR aspects. How do you ensure an assessment of a legal requirement is adequate, WB is responsible for overseeing – what mechanism.

Q: Scope of application. Detail of FI standard. Non discrimination, private water sector provision has led to discrimination.

Q: Responsibilities chart, would be good to explain the commitment letter with the borrower a bit further – how mandatory is this. Outcome based approach – won’t be immediate, how to deal with accountability.


  • IL, DPL, P4R – we are talking about IL here. DPL guided by OP 8.60, will look at after safeguards review, and update guidance


  • social impact assessment, we will have to include notes to lay out methodology, to be carried out by experts
  • need to assess impact on the poor, eg in the case of water tariffs, link to affordability
  • commitment plan is mandatory, fruit of discussion between WB and borrower – what needs to be done, who, when, where resources will come from
  • plan will also have some elements that are outcomes based, and with performance targets – science of delivery


  • WB will not engage in anything that violates human rights, different ways of capturing this

Q: Hope for explicit commitment to not fund activities violating human rights. Welcoming discrimination focus, but should be linked to HR. Soc assessment don’t always identify discrimination, HR framework stronger. Stakeholder engagement policy, would borrowers be required to disclose the availability of IP.

Q: OPCS proposal rewriting waiver for OP:s, how will this relate to safeguards.

Q: Differentiated responsibilities, WB should be bound by same standards as borrowers.


  • clarity of who is supposed to do what, but agree WB needs to be held to a high standard
  • policy on waivers, not substantial change, but to provide clarity

Di Leva

  • borrowers obligation to implement

Q: Rights and ecosystems based approach to development, including cumulative and indirect impacts. On dams, need to look at the whole watershed. Can’t achieve sustainability on a project by project basis.

Q: The need to have a human rights assessment, see lessons from Chad-Cameroon pipeline. Chad-Cameroon pipeline had all the guarantees it needed originally, still one of the poorest countries in the world. In Chad we refer indigenous peoples as local people, government different perspective. If you go to the oil production area, three villages with nowhere to go, controlled by military.

Q: Response plans.

Q: No technical problem assessing human rights, is being done. How to do it best, smart and integrate into ESS1. EIB approach, standard 1, best in class.

Q: Implications for the role and the way the Inspection Panel will have to deal with and address this. Need to be cleared and discussed up front.


  • will be a note on social impact assessments, should not be siloed
  • impact of projects, expect to see grievance mechanism at project level, need to be developed
  • intermediate level of grievance referral – at WB level
  • or people can go straight to the Inspection Panel
  • conservation, important to take into account broader ecosystem level, incl multiple dams and wider water shed issues
  • rather than tying ourselves up in definitions, we need to look at a range of direct or indirect impacts, incl maybe cumulative impacts
  • important to emphasise going to the board with a request to develop certain issues further down the stream will be the exception – need to be sound business case for it
  • yes we are learning from others, including EBRD, and whether we can use others tools, guidance etc, not to reinvent the wheel but to draw from


  • we are subject to approval from our board, with lots of different interests
  • you are broadly supportive to some issues, some you would like to push us to go forward