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Environmental Assessment

The 2001 Environment Strategy for the World Bank emphasizes the importance of integrating–or mainstreaming–environment into country development programs, sector strategies, and investments and underpinning sustainable development. We introduced environmental policies and procedures to integrate good environmental management into our operations, and we have also developed environmental assistance programs to help client countries integrate environmental issues into their development process, to address their pressing environmental challenges.

In addition to efforts identified in the 2001 Strategy, the Bank has adopted a set of operational policies and procedures that deal with the Bank's core development objectives and goals, the instruments for pursuing them, and specific requirements for Bank financed operations.

Safeguard policies are Board-approved mechanisms for integration of environmental and social issues into the decision-making process. They provide a set of specialized tools to support the development processes, and support participatory approaches and transparency. Nine of the safeguard policies are specific and cover physical cultural resources; disputed Areas; forests; indigenous peoples; international waterways; involuntary resettlement; natural habitats; pest management; and safety of dams.

A tenth safeguard policy, environmental assessment, is an umbrella policy for environmental and social management which is used in the Bank to examine the potential environmental and social risks and benefits associated with Bank investment lending operations. It is an essential tool for integrating environmental and social concerns into strategies, policies, programs and projects by providing the minimum requirements that all Bank investment lending operations must meet. Impacts on environmental, forests and other natural resources in development policy lending is covered by Bank policy 8.60.

The World Bank recognizes Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) as a key means of integrating at early stages environmental and social considerations into policies, plans and programs, particularly in sector decision making and reform. The Bank is committed to promoting the use of SEA as a tool for sustainable development.

In addition to SEAs, Country Environmental Analysis (CEA) is a key country-level diagnostic tool designed to evaluate systematically the environmental priorities of development in client countries, the environmental implications of key policies, and countries’ capacity to address their priorities.

International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private finance arm of the World Bank Group, has a long history with environmental and social standards. The institution adopted its Environmental and Social Safeguard Policies and its Disclosure Policy in 1998. Since 2006, IFC has applied the Policy and Performance Standards on Social and Environmental Sustainability to all investment projects to minimize their impact on the environment and on affected communities.

The Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) of the World Bank Group strives for positive development outcomes in private sector projects for which it provides guarantee support. An important component of positive development outcomes is the social and environmental sustainability of projects, which MIGA expects to achieve by applying a comprehensive set of social and environmental performance standards.

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