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Objectives and Scope

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Review and Update of the World Bank Safeguard Policies:
Objectives and Scope

The current safeguard policies have served the Bank, its client countries, and the development community well over the past two decades. In the spirit of continuous improvement in the face of changing contexts and circumstances, the Bank is evolving these crucial policies to better address new development demands and challenges, and to better meet the varied needs of borrowers. They range from middle-income countries with well-developed institutions and capacities, to low-income countries with weaker governance and institutions, to fragile and conflict-affected states where more tailored and coordinated interventions are required.

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Objectives and Consultation Process

The safeguards review and update is part of a larger modernization effort within the institution, which includes separate but complementary reviews of Investment Lending, to which the safeguard policies are applied, as well as operational procurement policies. The main objective of the review is to strengthen the safeguards policies to enhance the development effectiveness of World Bank-supported projects and programs.

While the final form and content cannot be determined at the outset, Bank management anticipates that the review process will lead to an integrated safeguards framework that will distinguish principles from policies from procedures; enhance policy clarity and coherence; clarify objectives and desired outcomes; improve synergy across policies; consolidate fragmented or duplicative policies; streamline guidance; and better delineate roles and responsibilities of the Bank and the borrower.

Beyond the objective of enhancing the development effectiveness of the projects and programs it supports, a new integrated safeguards framework can serve as the basis of a renewed partnership between the Bank and its borrowers — a partnership rooted in a common commitment to environmental and social sustainability. Such a partnership would better leverage the increasing capacity of many borrowers to identify and manage environmental and social risks and impacts. Where needed, the Bank would support borrowers to build such capacity, to enhance development effectiveness. In this way, a new integrated framework could be a global public good that can yield sustainability benefits for its borrowing countries, development partners, and the international community more broadly.

Each phase of the review will include a multi-stakeholder consultation process to elicit input and feedback from interested stakeholders in a broad, inclusive and transparent manner. The consultation plan (PDF) provides details on each phase and on the opportunities that shareholders and stakeholders will have to contribute to the review process throughout its duration.

Scope of the review

In addition to the policies below, as part of the review process the Bank will consider if and how it could potentially address a number of emerging areas that are not covered by the current safeguard policies. These include human rights; labor and occupational health and safety; gender; disability; the free, prior, and informed consent of Indigenous Peoples; land tenure and natural resources; and climate change.

The Bank will consider these areas through internal dialogue and consultations with shareholders and stakeholders, as well as through a global series of dialogues with external experts.

Inputs will be both solicited from specific individuals, groups and parties, and open to all interested in contributing. The consultation period runs from October, 2012 to March 2014 in distinct rounds. See the consultation plan (PDF) for details on the process and the opportunity to contribute and participate.

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