Forest Peoples Programme Supporting forest peoples’ rights

Update and Consolidation of World Bank Safeguard Policies (2012-14)

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

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Civil Society warns of the impact of the World Bank’s proposals for safeguards

24 October, 2014

360 civil society groups and indigenous peoples’ organisations have endorsed a statement warning the World Bank that the newly proposed safeguard system risks increasing the burden on vulnerable communities and undermining years of progressive developments in the recognition by financial institutions of the need to adhere to best standards in development.

Click here to read the statement.

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FIPN letters to the World Bank's President Kim

7 October, 2014

Letters from Peter Kitelo, Kenya Forest Indigenous Peoples Network (FIPN), to President Kim of the World Bank on behalf of the requesters, the Sengwer indigenous people:

FIPN Pre-Board letter to President Kim

FIPN Post-Board letter to President Kim

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"World Bank pledge to resolve the land issues of the Sengwer forest indigenous community"

6 October, 2014

Thousands of homes belonging to hunter-gatherer Sengwer people living in the Embobut forest in the Cherangani hills were burned down earlier this year by Kenya forest service guards who had been ordered to clear the forest as part of a carbon offset project that aimed to reduce emissions from deforestation.

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World Bank Turns Its Back on Rights Protections for the Poor

29 July, 2014

PRESS RELEASE (July 29 2014)

World Bank Turns Its Back on Rights Protections for the Poor: Global civil society response gathers momentum

Grave concerns are held by civil society regarding the proposed weakening of the World Bank’s protections for land rights and land tenure in the leaked new draft Environmental and Social Standards.

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Civil Society Statement on ESS6- Biodiversity, World Bank Environmental and Social Framework CODE Draft

29 July, 2014

Proposed changes to safeguards for forests, natural habitats and biodiversity raise serious concerns among civil society organisations around the world. These concerns have been raised with the Committee on Development Effectiveness (CODE), the Board committee tasked with determining if the current draft proposals are ready for public consultation.

Civil Society Statement ESS6 Biodiversity

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Latin American and Caribbean civil society organisations concerns on the World Bank Environmental and Social Policy and Environmental and Social Standards First Draft

29 July, 2014

49 civil society organisations in Latin America and the Caribbean sent a collective statement to the World Bank highlighting their concerns with the structural changes to safeguard policies in the Bank being proposed that would, if adopted, weaken social and environmental standards for affected peoples and the environment.

Rear the statement here (PDF):


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World Bank Safeguard Draft Rolls-Back Protections for People and the Environment Key Human Rights Concerns

29 July, 2014

A statement from the Bank on Human Rights Coalition submitted to the World Bank Executive Board. The World Bank has repeatedly committed to producing a new safeguard framework that results in no-dilution of the existing safeguards and which reflects prevailing international standards. Instead, the draft safeguard framework distributed this month to the Committee on Development Effectiveness represents a profound dilution of the existing safeguards and an undercutting of international human rights standards and best practice among development institutions.

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World Bank to undermine regional and global legal standards on indigenous peoples' rights

11 July, 2014

The World Bank has been reviewing its suite of safeguard policies since late 2010 (see prior FPP newsletters from May 2014, Oct 2013, April 2013, Oct 2012 and Oct 2011). The Bank has spent these past 4 years in ‘listening mode’ as thousands of comments came in from constituencies around the world with little or no concrete feedback from the Bank. Much is at stake with this process of review, as the Bank seeks to incorporate critical project level protections for social and environmental outcomes into the wider process of reform in the Bank overseen by President Kim.

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Urgent letter from indigenous peoples’ organisations to the World Bank President: respect our rights in the new safeguard policies

5 June, 2014

A letter endorsed widely by indigenous peoples’ organisations and support organisations, including FPP, was sent to the President of the World Bank Group, Dr. Kim, to ask him to support the inclusion of a requirement for free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) in the new safeguard policies, and to ensure that the policies respected the rights of indigenous peoples, regardless of the governments under which they live.

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Urgent letter sent from FPP to the World Bank President

5 June, 2014

Urgent letter sent from FPP to the World Bank President, Dr Kim regarding concerns with the development of the new safeguard system to be proposed specifically the need to enshrine FPIC and to apply the policy in a strictly nondiscriminatory manner.

To read the letter please click here

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