The review and update of the World Bank safeguards currently underway is first and foremost an opportunity to modernise the Bank’s policies and strengthen them to meet international human rights and environmental standards. A comprehensive and effective update process also holds the much-needed potential to fill gaps and rectify systemic weaknesses in the World Bank’s safeguard framework, including shortcomings in safeguard implementation mechanisms. Forest Peoples Programme (FPP) and other bank-watchers are closely engaged in developing independent early inputs into the Bank review process, including into the design of the approach to the Bank’s consultation process. Under the flagship of wider reforms being put into place by the World Bank’s new President Dr. Jim Kim, this safeguard review has the potential to contribute significantly to defining a new direction for the Bank and reflect a new set of values.
Like many other social justice organisations, FPP maintains that as well as listening to borrower governments and donors, the World Bank must listen to the rights-holders and people impacted by its investments, as well as to civil society organisations familiar with Bank project and programme safeguard issues. In order to ensure upgrading of the Bank’s framework for social and environmental performance, the safeguard review must involve a robust process for meaningful public consultations. Such consultations need to provide guarantees that public inputs will shape the final proposals for the reform of the safeguard system. If civil society and community concerns are taken on board, then this safeguard review could contribute significantly to defining a new direction for the World Bank Group focused on improved implementation and greater public accountability for social and environmental results and impacts.
Indigenous peoples’ organisations have submitted a set of specific recommendations to be taken into consideration in the review, update and reform of the Operational Policy / Bank Procedure 4.10 on Indigenous Peoples. The recommendations include compliance with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and call for both strengthened protections for rights on the one hand, and increased effectiveness in the application of safeguards on the other. The recommendations state that these should be specifically designed to address past flaws identified in the safeguard system, through both Bank evaluations and external evaluations.
A joint letter from a large number of civil society organisations highlights the need for improved protections for land acquisition, and for better incorporation of human rights and gender concerns, among other issues. Civil society organisations also emphasise that the safeguard review must consider and respond to every lending modality used by the Bank, not just project financing. This must include changes currently being considered under the Investment Lending Reform (ILR), and new lending modalities like the recently approved pilot Program-for-Results (PforR). This widened scope of the review would also include focused assessments of how to apply effective social and environmental standards to programmatic financing under ‘development policy loans’ (DPL) and to the country systems approach being piloted under the World Bank’s Operational Policy 4.00.
In October 2012 the final Approach Paper for this review was approved by the Committee on Development Effectiveness (CODE) in the World Bank and thereby launching the review process. A comprehensive paper detailing the views of civil society organisations on the updating and review process will be forth-coming shortly.
The process from now (as provided in the World Bank Approach Paper):
• July 2012 – April 2013, the Global Review: “external consultations seeking input on opportunities, emerging directions, and options to inform drafting of an integrated framework”
• May 2013 – November 2013, the Initial Draft Integrated Framework: “external consultations seeking feedback on initial draft integrated framework for a period of three months”
• Dec 2013 – June 2014, Final Integrated Framework and Policy Recommendations: “external consultations seeking feedback on second draft integrated framework for a period of three months”.
• Indigenous Peoples’ Inputs to the World Bank Operational Policy/Bank Procedure 4.10: http://www.forestpeoples.org/sites/fpp/files/publication/2012/09/response-world-bank-letter.pdf
• Joint civil society open letter to the President of the World Bank, Dr. Kim Jim, regarding the on-going review of World Bank safeguard policies:http://www.forestpeoples.org/topics/safeguard-accountablility-issues/publication/2012/joint-civil-society-open-letter-president-w
• Review and Update of the World Bank Safeguard Policies: Consultation Phase 1 - www.worldbankgroup.org/safeguardsconsultations