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Environmental and Social Framework

The Environmental and Social Framework (ESF) became effective on October 1, 2018 and applies to all Investment Policy Financing (IPF) projects initiated after this date. It makes important advances in areas such as labor, non-discrimination, climate change mitigation and adaptation, biodiversity, community health and safety, and stakeholder engagement – including expanding the role of public participation and grievance mechanisms. The ESF enhances the World Bank’s commitment to sustainable development through ten Environmental and Social Standards (ESS) that are designed to support Borrowers’ environmental and social (E&S) risk management. The ESF uses a risk-based approach that applies increased oversight and resources to complex projects and promotes increased responsiveness to changes in project circumstances through adaptive risk management and stakeholder engagement. 

The ESF enables Borrowers to better manage project risks as well as improve environmental and social performance, consistent with good international practices. It has provided scope for Borrowers to be innovative and has helped prompt dialogue on specific E&S risks relevant to their own national development agendas. During its three years of implementation, the ESF has enabled the Bank and Borrowers to:

  • Address a broader scope of environmental and social risks and potential impacts to be assessed and managed by Borrowers, for example on climate change, biodiversity, community health, road traffic safety, disability, occupational health and safety, and ways to make sure that disadvantaged or vulnerable individuals and groups have access to project benefits.
  • Recognize the importance of strengthening national environmental and social management systems, and supported dialogues with Borrowers on capacity development.
  • Enhance transparency, design and implementation of projects through ongoing stakeholder engagement and information disclosure by developing stakeholder engagement plans and disclosing environmental and social documents.

The ESF approved by the Board on August 4, 2016, consists of the World Bank’s Vision for Sustainable Development; the Bank’s Environmental and Social Policy for Investment Project Financing (IPF); ten Environmental and Social Standards (ESSs), which set out the requirements that apply to Borrowers); the Environmental and Social Directive for IPF (which sets out requirements for Bank staff to implement the E&S Policy); and a Directive on Addressing Risks and Impacts on Disadvantaged or Vulnerable Individuals or Groups.

The Environmental and Social Standards (ESS):


Hear from Ed Mountfield, VP for World Bank Operations, Policy and Country Services on our commitment to preventing discrimination of sexual and gender minorities.


Environmental and Social Framework Video

Maninder Gill shares 3 takeaways from 3 years ESF implementation