The World Bank’s work on Social Sustainability and Inclusion has a new strategic direction that focuses on four things:
Creating opportunities for all people and addressing deep rooted systemic inequalities
Persistent discrimination and exclusion of the most marginalized come at a high cost to both people and the economy. Globally, the loss in human capital wealth due to gender inequality is estimated at $160.2 trillion. Afro-descendants continue to experience significantly higher levels of poverty (2.5 times higher in Latin America). 90 percent of children with disabilities in developing countries do not attend school. In many countries, it is especially difficult to tackle LGBTI exclusion, discrimination, and violence. To date, 70 countries continue to criminalize homosexuality.
Social Sustainability and Inclusion focuses on increasing opportunities for all marginalized people to participate fully in markets, services, technologies, and society. In Panama, for example, this means working with Indigenous communities and their traditional leaders to improve the quality of health, education, water and sanitation services. In Serbia, it means leading a study on the socio-economic outcomes of exclusion based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Empowering people to be drivers of their own solutions
The centerpiece of our operational work has focused on Community-Driven Development (CDD) programs, which empower communities to be architects of their own solutions for growth and poverty reduction. Building on participatory approaches and a community’s own values, CDD programs improve community services and basic infrastructure to help residents, especially the most vulnerable, reach their potential and develop their livelihoods. They also strengthen the capacity of residents and community leaders to articulate their needs and engage with local and regional governments.
We also work across task teams to build citizen engagement tools into our investment projects. Engaging citizens is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic, as it provides insight into how the crisis affects communities and can enable real-time course correction.
Creating resilient societies requires working in the most fragile and difficult environments
For people living in the most challenging environments, we strengthen resilience by creating opportunities to thrive. We do this by building strong households and communities that can withstand divisions caused by conflict, violence and exogenous shocks such as climate change or pandemics. That’s why the majority of operations in SSI focus on building social cohesion in countries that are tackling conflict and violence, and we are expanding our work to help address the social dimensions of climate change. In fragile countries, we support monitoring, participatory service delivery, peace building and reconciliation processes, and targeted efforts to reduce interpersonal violence.
Making the Environmental and Social Framework an integral part of everything we do
The Environmental and Social Framework (ESF) boosts protections for people and the environment, builds country capacity on social and environmental management, and makes important advances in areas such as transparency, accountability, nondiscrimination, and public participation.
It was approved by the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors in 2016, after a Safeguards review that included the most extensive consultation ever conducted by the World Bank Group. It concluded nearly four years of analysis and engagement around the world with governments, development experts, and civil society groups, reaching nearly 8,000 stakeholders in 63 countries.
Across Bank projects, important social issues include gender empowerment, gender-based violence, labor and working conditions, inclusion of disadvantaged and vulnerable groups, and stakeholder engagement. The ESF, effective as of October 1, 2018, underscores that all investment projects with a Project Concept Note (PCN) decision on or after that date must apply the ESF rather than the Safeguard Policies.
Last Updated: Mar 19, 2021