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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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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Analysis and understanding of risk: Recommendations to the New Approach to Country Engagement

29 May, 2014

Forest peoples Programme and Amnesty International

May 21, 2014

Recommendations for the revision of the New Approach to Country Engagement

We welcome the opportunity to provide detailed inputs into the ongoing revisions and discussions on the draft proposed new approach to country level engagement in the World Bank change strategy.

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8 Minimum Elements for a Safeguards Framework that Protects People and Communities, a Letter to President Kim

22 May, 2014

Bank on Human Rights Coalition letter to World Bank President Kim urging him to ensure that the new environmental and social safeguards framework protects individuals and communities from the negative effects of Bank-financed projects.

To read the letter in full please click here

Signatories of the letter include:

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How the World Bank will design its work in the future

29 April, 2014

As part of the on-going changes and reforms at the World Bank under the leadership of Dr. Jim Kim, the Bank has recently made public, and started consultations on, an important new policy process which they are calling “a new approach to Country Engagement”. This process is a two-step method through which the Bank will design all its interventions and activities in a given country.

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Joint Letter on the World Bank’s Proposed Systematic Country Diagnostic and Country Partnership Framework

11 March, 2014

Critical inputs on the process of developing the World Bank’s new approach to assessing and managing serious risks at the country diagnostic and planning level.

Click here to read the letter

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Indigenous peoples and NGOs urge the UN to focus on the human rights impacts of multilateral finance institutions

1 October, 2013

The UN Human Rights Council – the highest body in the UN tasked with overseeing human rights law – has just finished meeting in Geneva. In a statement, a group of indigenous peoples’ organisations and non-governmental organisations urged the Council to urgently consider, and provide guidance on, the human rights obligations of multilateral finance institutions, an issue of key importance as these institutions review and update their safeguard systems. 

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Civil society organisations urge the World Bank Group to be more transparent in the process of developing the new Change Strategy

25 July, 2013

Thirty civil society organisations, including Forest Peoples Programme, have sent a letter to Pamela Cox (Senior Vice President of Change Management at the World Bank Group) to request updated information on the development of the new World Bank Group Strategy and the related institutional change process underway at the Group. The organisations urge the Bank to ensure that this process is undertaken in a participatory, transparent and inclusive manner.

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