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Environmental Assessment in Operational Policy 4.01

The safeguard policies of the Bank are operationalizing the 'do good' approach to the Bank investment lending operations and are fundamental in meeting the three pillars of the World Bank Environment Strategy:

  • Improving the quality of life
  • Improving the quality of growth
  • Protecting the quality of the regional and global commons.

Environmental Assessment, one of ten Safeguard Policies, is used in the Bank to examine the potential environmental risks and benefits associated with Bank investment lending operations.It is an essential tool for integrating environmental and social concerns into development policies, programs and projects by providing the minimum requirements that all Bank-supported operations must meet. Environmental Assessment, a formal Bank policy since 1989, was the first process to mandate the screening of Bank-funded projects for their environmental impacts. This includes potential physical, biological, socio-economic and cultural resources impacts.

The Bank's Environmental Assessment policy and procedures are described in Operational Policy 4.01 (OP 4.01) and Bank Procedures 4.01 (BP 4.01). Prototype Carbon Fund and Global Environmental Facility financed projects supported by the Bank are also subject to the provisions of this policy.

With more than 20 years of experience with the application of EA policy, the preparation of Environmental Assessments (EAs) is well integrated into the Bank's procedures and business processes. The Bank's policy stresses that Environmental Assessment should be thought of as a process rather than a product. Environment Assessment policy continues to be updated. The most recent updates took place in August 2004 and March 2007.

Click here to read Operational Policy OP 4.01 and Bank Procedures BP 4.01

World Bank Regional Safeguard Advisor teams are the first point of contact for sectoral colleagues, Bank management, most government officials, NGOs, and other local partners needing guidance in applying OP/BP 4.01. In the Bank's Operations Policy and Country Services Network, the Quality Assurance and Compliance Unit has EA specialists who can be mobilized to clarify issues in the EA process, with the Bank's Environment and International Law Unit in charge of interpreting the policies. For questions concerning the World Bank and EA, you may contact the Bank's Safeguard Policies Help Desk:


Safeguards Help Desk
Operations Policy and Country Services Network
The World Bank
1818 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20433

Telephone: +1 202 473 2001
Fax: +1 202 477 0565

Last updated: 2010-04-23


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Of Interest

OP / BP 4.01