World Bank to Begin Discussions on Proposal to Strengthen Social and Environmental Safeguards

July 30, 2014

New draft framework aims to maintain and build on existing protections to vulnerable and indigenous people, communities, and the environment

WASHINGTON, July 30, 2014 –The World Bank Board’s Committee on Development Effectiveness today provided clearance for the Bank to consult publicly on a first draft of a proposal to modernize the policies that safeguard people and the environment in the investment projects the World Bank finances.

The proposed Environmental and Social Framework builds on the decades-old safeguard policies and aims to consolidate them into a more modern, unified framework that is more efficient and effective to apply and implement.

“The Bank’s environmental and social policies are key to ensure the projects we fund benefit and protect people and the environment,” said Kyle Peters, Vice President for Operations Policy and Country Services. “The policies we have in place now have served us well, but the issues our clients face have changed over the last 20 years.”

The proposal aims to maintain and build on existing protections, including the enhanced protection of disadvantaged and vulnerable people, Indigenous Peoples, communities and the environment, including provisions for pest management, dam and road safety, natural habitats, and cultural heritage. It also highlights the importance of non-discrimination.

“We are proposing to extend the existing protections for Indigenous Peoples and introduce Free, Prior and Informed Consent of Indigenous Peoples,” said Mark King, Chief Environmental and Social Standards Officer. “In exceptional circumstances when there are risks of exacerbating ethnic tension or civil strife or where the identification of Indigenous Peoples is inconsistent with the constitution of the country, in consultation with people affected by a particular project, we are proposing an alternative approach to the protection of Indigenous Peoples. But we should be clear that any alternative approach will only be adopted with approval from our Board, which represents all of our member countries.”

“The proposed framework would also strengthen the conservation of biodiversity, taking the existing safeguard policy on natural habitats and forests and introducing more stringent requirements, as well as more clarity on how risks and adverse impacts on natural habitats must be mitigated,” King added.

The first draft of the framework was developed following a five-month long consultation effort that involved more than 2000 people in over 40 countries and included a review of other multilateral development banks’ environment and social standards.

The current draft includes a vision statement on environmental and social sustainability, a policy outlining the World Bank responsibilities and ten environmental and social standards that are required for the partner country.

The proposed draft standards include: assessment and management of environmental and social risks and impacts; labor and working conditions; resource efficiency and pollution management (including the consideration of climate change and other related issues); community health and safety; economic or physical displacement of people (involuntary resettlement), biodiversity conservation and sustainable management of living natural resources (forests, habitats, sustainable management of living natural resources,  production of living activities such as food safety, responsible harvesting, international standards); indigenous peoples, cultural heritage, financial intermediaries and stakeholder engagement. 

“The proposed standards aim to provide clearer definitions and guidance, and clarify the roles of the Bank and the borrowing country. This proposal also aims to strengthen our ability to manage environmental and social risks and impacts in the projects we fund and ensure that risks are assessed, managed and mitigated throughout the lifetime of the project,” said Stefan Koeberle, Director of Operations Risk Management.

Peters acknowledged the challenge of getting a proposal that strikes an appropriate balance across these complex issues.

“What we are talking about are the issues that are most crucial for reducing poverty and helping boost the incomes of the bottom 40 percent of people around the world,” he said. “What we hope to do is to create a framework that helps focus attention on where we can make a difference and problem solve in real time to help countries and people have better opportunities in life.”

From August to December 2014, the World Bank is seeking feedback from stakeholders on the draft of the proposed Environmental and Social Framework to help inform the formulation of specific policy revisions, taking into account implications for implementation and operations. The draft framework will later be considered by the Board's Committee on Development Effectiveness.

Background on consultations

The draft framework along with overall consultation plan, timeline, schedule of meetings and all relevant information will be made available on the dedicated consultation website (  The draft will be made available in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. Stakeholders will be asked to provide feedback on the draft through an online consultation platform as well as targeted and issue-specific face-to-face meetings.

For more information, please visit If you have questions, please send an email to   

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