Forest Peoples Programme Supporting forest peoples’ rights

Update and Consolidation of World Bank Safeguard Policies

The World Bank is currently undertaking a comprehensive process for ‘Updating and Consolidation’ of eight of its so-called ‘Environmental and Social Safeguard Policies’ and its policy on the use of Country Systems. ‘Safeguard Policies’ are policies intended to establish minimum requirements to minimise or remove the risk of social and environmental harms being directly caused by World Bank financed activities. The Country Systems policy is intended to allow countries to apply their own social and environmental safeguard systems if they are judged to be equivalent to the Bank’s own standards.

The ‘Updating and Consolidation’ process will have immense importance for indigenous peoples and others impacted by World Bank financing. In addition to all the normal areas of Bank financing, including for infrastructure, agribusiness, extractive industries and development policy loans, the Bank is increasingly involved in financing climate change-related initiatives, including those aimed at reducing deforestation and those designed to improve the adaptive capacity of both eco-systems and communities.

Given increasing pressures on the World Bank to compete with financial institutions in developing countries, there is a genuine concern that the ‘Updating and Consolidation’ process could result in a weakening of safeguards and reduced accountability of the World Bank and borrower countries. There may even be risks that some specific policies could be lost altogether. Forest Peoples Programme and many indigenous organisations and NGOs are engaged in tracking this process in an effort to ensure that it results in strengthened standards and greater World Bank accountability.

Begun in 2010, the process is proceeding slowly, but it is expected that a new set of policies will be in place in 2014. Details of the current status of the review can be found on the World Bank's website.

This FPP website page will provide up-to-date information on the ‘Updating and Consolidation’ process and related critical issues as they emerge.

Relevant resources

Syndicate content

Letter to World Bank Group Special Representative to the EU

22 June, 2015

Letter responding to consultation called on Development Policy Lending, an area of Bank financing that does not apply safeguards.

Read the response in full here

Read more

Joint Civil Society Letter to the World Bank

27 May, 2015

Civil society organisations are expressing concern about the format of the third round of consultations for the World Bank safeguard review, requesting broad face-to-face consultations on specific issue areas as well as targeted consultations in Bank borrower countries.

Download link

Read more

African human rights body warns the World Bank on proposals to reverse decades of advancement in protection of indigenous peoples’ rights

12 March, 2015

LONDON, 12 March 2015: In February 2015, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights met in Banjul, The Gambia, for its 17th Extra-Ordinary Session, to deal with critical matters pending since the cancellation and delay of previous sessions due to the spread of Ebola during 2014.

Read more

Joint AIPP and FPP submission to the World Bank

17 February, 2015

The purpose of this submission is to highlight key issues for indigenous peoples in the new Environmental and Social safeguard system proposed by the World Bank. The policies referred to herein are the Environmental and Social Policy (ESP) and the Environmental and Social Standards (ESS), 1 through 10, with particular focus on ESS7 on indigenous peoples.

Read more

Feedback from members of the International Land Coalition to the World Bank E&S Framework

12 February, 2015

ILC

A compilation of a range of opinions from the members of the International Land Coalition regarding their analysis of the potential impact of the proposed changes to the World Bank Environmental and Social Framework on the situation of land tenure around the world.

Read more

Latin American and Caribbean Civil Society Perspectives on the Draft of the World Bank’s New Environmental and Social Policy and Environmental and Social Standards

9 February, 2015

Lima, Peru, February 4, 2015 - We, the undersigned civil society organizations and social movements of Latin America and the Caribbean, wish to express our profound concern and dissatisfaction with the World Bank’s Environmental and Social Safeguard review process, as well as with the current draft of the new Environmental and Social Policy and Environmental and Social Standards published by the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) (which is a part of the World Bank Group).  Likewise, we wish to highlight the lack of receptivity we have witnessed on the part of the Bank to the comments and suggestions we have submitted on previous occasions with regard to this issue.

Read more

US Congress raises heat on World Bank over China fears

18 December, 2014

The US Congress is putting new pressure on the World Bank to preserve its social and environmental rules for projects in developing countries amid fears that the emergence of rivals  backed by China may force it to weaken standards.

The World Bank is next year expected to wrap up a review of its safeguards, which were introduced in the 1980s in response to criticism of environmental damage and rights violations linked to bank-funded megaprojects.

Read more

Tanzania Indigenous Peoples Civil Societies voice serious concerns over proposed World Bank Environmental and Social Framework

17 December, 2014

Tanzania indigenous organisations have written to the World Bank to express their concern at the overall weakening of the policy requirements for indigenous peoples in the draft of the proposed World Bank Environmental and Social Safeguards (ESS). Concerns include implications for the denial of the existence and rights of indigenous peoples under international human rights law, lack of meaningful and effective participation, forced eviction and lack of access to information.

Read more

UN Special Rapporteurs criticise new ESF framework

16 December, 2014

A letter from the UN Special Rapporteurs to the World Bank critiquing the new proposed environmental and social safeguard framework.

Read the letter here

Read more

World Bank's Consultations a Big Failure

26 November, 2014

Two years ago, the World Bank decided to undergo a review of its environmental and social policies. At the time when this process was launched, the Bank stated that the multi-stage review was being undertaken in response to the need "to better address environmental and social issues that countries face today, to deliver better environmental and social outcomes in the projects and programs the Bank supports."

Read more