Improving Our Operations for Development Impact
To better serve our clients and partners, we continuously work to improve our operations, policies, and processes to become a more effective and efficient institution and maximize our development impact.
The World Bank's Environmental and Social Framework
The World Bank’s new Environmental and Social Framework (ESF) became effective on October 1, 2018. It is replacing our Safeguard Policies for investment project finance operations, with the two systems operating in parallel for five to seven years as projects under the older policies come to closure. The new framework offers broader, more systematic coverage of environmental and social risks, including issues such as labor, climate change, and occupational health and safety. It also makes important advances in stakeholder engagement, transparency, accountability, non-discrimination, and public participation.
To prepare for the launch, the Bank staff held workshops in 105 countries for government officials, project implementation staff, and other key stakeholders—including civil society, the private sector, universities and training centers, in-country bilateral agencies, and international financing institutions. Similar trainings have been held with development partners in Europe and Asia, reaching over 40 separate agencies. A strategy has been developed to strengthen borrowers’ frameworks and capacity to manage environmental and social risks. More than 2,500 Bank staff have also been trained, with our environmental and social specialists proceeding through a professional accreditation program to ensure knowledge capture and identify skills gaps. An Environmental and Social Management System launched in October 2018 to track and manage environmental and social risks on Bank-financed projects. Guidance notes for borrowers on each of the 10 Environmental and Social Standards are available online in all UN languages. Good practice notes, templates, and other resources have also been issued on topics such as third-party monitoring, non-discrimination and disability, gender-based violence (GBV), and use of security personnel. Stakeholder outreach has included events at the Spring Meetings and Annual Meetings, presentations to professional associations, and leadership roles in working groups of international financing institutions.
Addressing gender-based violence
The Bank is committed to reducing GBV through investment, research and learning, and collaboration with stakeholders around the world. Addressing GBV in operations is a key priority, with notable commitments articulated under both IDA17 and IDA18, as well as within the Bank Group’s Gender Strategy. We currently support over $300 million in operations aimed at addressing GBV, both through standalone projects and through the integration of GBV components in areas such as transport, education, social protection, and forced displacement. Through the “Development Marketplace: Innovations to Address GBV,” now in its fourth year, the Bank partnered with the Sexual Violence Research Initiative and awarded over $4 million to more than 40 research projects in 28 low- and middle-income countries to advance understanding of effective strategies to prevent and respond to GBV. In response to recommendations from the GBV Task Force, we developed a risk assessment tool to ensure that Bank-financed operations avoid increasing the risk of sexual exploitation and abuse. The tool is accompanied by a rigorous methodology to assess contextual and project-related risks and is meant to be used as projects containing civil works are developed. We also developed a good practice note to assist staff in addressing identified risks of sexual exploitation, abuse, and harassment that can emerge in investment projects with major civil works contracts. The note was launched in the context of the ESF and is being adapted for key sectors in human development.
The World Bank Procurement Framework
The Bank’s Procurement Framework, in effect since 2016, plays a strategic role in helping countries achieve better development outcomes in implementing our investment project finance operations. It allows countries to develop procurement strategies tailored to their specific needs, unique characteristics, diverse markets, and project development objectives. The framework is used for all new projects, with specific procurement strategies set for each project. These strategy documents assess a project’s operating context, implementation capacity, the potential impact on procurement, and market conditions to inform procurement arrangements. To date, 437 projects valued at $43.0 billion are applying the framework.
Two features of the framework—Alternative Procurement Arrangements (APA) and Hands-On Expanded Implementation Support (HEIS)—aim to make projects easier and more efficient to implement, usually in low-capacity or fragile situations. APA allow arrangements to be made with other organizations such as UN agencies and the International Committee of the Red Cross to lead procurement activities and implementation, improving efficiency on the ground. HEIS allows Bank staff to support clients in applying the Bank's procurement rules to expedite project implementation; it has been used in projects in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo, Myanmar, and Papua New Guinea.
To ensure smooth implementation, the framework includes guidance notes for operational teams, borrowers, and the private sector. For example, the Bank’s Standard Bidding Documents for Works were updated following implementation of the ESF to reflect the new standards. We have also conducted global outreach to disseminate the framework’s new features, and participating companies confirm that it has helped to create a stronger enabling environment for businesses.
Improving the design and use of trust funds for greater impact
Trust funds complement IDA and IBRD financing and provide vital support to the Bank’s capacity to deliver on our top priorities. There are more than 500 trust funds, accounting for about 10 percent of the Bank’s disbursements to clients. They are critical to the knowledge agenda, financing about two-thirds of all our advisory services and analytics activities.
One of the key challenges identified by the ongoing trust fund reform process is the long tail of smaller, highly customized trust funds, which account for 70 percent of trust funds but only 7 percent of the total value of this portfolio. Their varied planning and allocation cycles make alignment with the Bank’s strategy and planning cycle and broader priorities more difficult. These funds also have high transaction costs for their establishment, fundraising, governance, and reporting requirements.
To build stronger links between funding and strategic priorities as well as reduce fragmentation, the Bank is organizing the trust fund portfolio around fewer, larger programs with a strong focus on results, known as Umbrella 2.0. This reform aims to strengthen alignment and efficiency through greater scale, reduce transaction costs through coordinated governance and reporting, and improve dialogue with partners around shared priorities. The pilot phase was rolled out in fiscal 2019, with lessons from it being used to prepare the final design and roll out the reform Bank-wide in 2020. Measures to simplify trust funds that fall outside the scope of Umbrella 2.0, such as co-financing or new innovations that require “proof of concept” before being scaled up, are also being developed.
The Bank is also currently preparing a management framework that seeks to strengthen selectivity and risk management for both new and established financial intermediary funds. These provide the global development community with independently governed multilateral platforms that support multiple implementing agencies, typically in the areas of global public goods. The Bank plays a limited trustee role in these funds; we may host the secretariat and act as one of the implementing entities.
Grievance Redress Service
The Grievance Redress Service (GRS) is an avenue for people and communities to submit complaints directly to the World Bank if they believe a Bank-funded project has or is likely to adversely affect them.
The GRS ensures that complaints received at the corporate level are promptly and proactively addressed by fostering dialogue and problem solving as well as applying relevant dispute resolution tools. Building on its growing experience, the GRS is being strengthened to enhance its efficiency and effectiveness by distinguishing the types of redress services it provides and updating its systems and operating procedures.