Skip to Main Navigation
PRESS RELEASE March 9, 2020

World Bank Enhances Its Accountability

WASHINGTON, March 9, 2020—The World Bank Board of Executive Directors has approved enhancements to the Inspection Panel toolkit and the Bank’s accountability system, creating an expanded independent accountability mechanism housing both the Panel and a new Dispute Resolution Service.

When the World Bank provides governments with financing to invest in projects — such as building roads, improving health systems, or connecting people to electricity — these projects can benefit millions of people, boost economic growth, and reduce poverty. As the Bank finances these investments, it aims to ensure that people and the environment are protected from potential adverse impacts. However, in cases where there may have been harm, the Bank has avenues of recourse available to people and communities to ensure accountability, including the Inspection Panel.

Since its establishment in 1993, the Inspection Panel has been a leader in the field of accountability and has provided an avenue for people who believe that they have been, or are likely to be, harmed by a Bank-financed project to raise their concerns.

“The World Bank’s accountability mechanisms, including the independent Inspection Panel, have been instrumental in ensuring accountability and improving compliance with the World Bank's policies and procedures,” said World Bank Group President David Malpass. “These important changes to the Inspection Panel Toolkit will enhance the independence and Board oversight of the accountability framework and will give further recourse for people and communities.”

Over the last two years, the Board - which represents the World Bank’s 189 member countries - has analyzed the findings of an External Review of the Inspection Panel Toolkit and engaged with a broad range of stakeholders, including authorities in client countries, Inspection Panel Requesters, civil society organizations and academics. The Board also held discussions with other financial institutions to learn lessons and practices from their accountability mechanisms.

The review resulted in a set of enhancements adopted in 2018, and others adopted in March 2020: (see fact sheet for additional information)

Adopted March 2020: (to be operationalized within 6 months)

  • Extension of the time limit for submitting complaints to the Inspection Panel (to 15 months after project closure);
  • Independent and proportionate risk-based verification of Management Action Plans as an additional reassurance for the Board; and
  • Dispute resolution that is independent of Bank management

Adopted October 2018: (being operationalized)

  • Updated procedures for sharing the Inspection Panel’s Investigation Report with Requesters before it is considered by the Board;
  • Formal recognition of the Inspection Panel’s advisory role
  • Formalization of the Inspection Panel’s practice of coordinating with co-financiers’ accountability mechanisms on joint complaints; and
  • Management clarification on the use of Bank-Executed Trust Funds

The new independent accountability mechanism will be comprised of the IPN – which will continue to carry out compliance reviews – and the Dispute Resolution Service, which is expected to be operational in September 2020.

“These reforms are important for development effectiveness, especially as the Bank works in even more challenging environments,” said Juergen Zattler, Chair of the Board’s Committee on Development Effectiveness, which led discussions on the review process. “They help communities by improving the Inspection Panel process, and by bolstering the Bank’s accountability framework.”

“These are positive developments for project-affected communities,” Inspection Panel Chair Imrana Jalal said. “They are provided more time to send a complaint to the Panel if they feel they have been harmed by a project, and the addition of the Dispute Resolution Service gives them another way to have their issues addressed. Additionally, the changes offer the Panel the opportunity to enhance accountability by verifying the implementation of Management Action Plans in some cases.”

The World Bank strongly supports a robust system of accountability, which is at the core of the World Bank’s value proposition as the premier development financial institution. In addition to the independent Inspection Panel, the World Bank has other grievance redress mechanisms available for intended project beneficiaries, as well as project workers. These include: 

  • The World Bank Environmental and Social Framework requires projects to have a grievance mechanism at the project level both for project-affected people and communities, as well as for project workers, to facilitate resolution of project-related concerns. This increases transparency and accountability and provides feedback channels for project stakeholders.
  • The Grievance Redress Service (GRS), established in 2015, provides an additional avenue for people and communities to submit complaints directly to the World Bank Management if they believe a Bank-funded project has or is likely to adversely affect them. Engaging with the GRS allows for early identification and remediation of actual or potential harms.

About the Review and the Board recommendations

For more information on the External Review and Board recommendations visit: