Oxfam calls on the World Bank to drastically improve social and environmental protection policies

Monday, August 1, 2016
World Bank headquarters in Washington, DC. Credit: Wikimedia

Four quick ways to drastically improve the World Bank’s social and environmental protection policies

Last week, the World Bank released the latest draft of their Environmental and Social Framework. Colloquially known as “the safeguards”, these policies are meant to protect people and the environment from any damaging impacts from the Bank’s projects. 

However, we found the draft sorely disappointing. The Board of Directors will make a final decision about whether or not to approve the safeguards on August 4. We’re urging Bank officials to make four simple fixes that would drastically improve these policies. 

Nadia Daar, head of Oxfam International’s Washington office, said: “The final draft of the World Bank’s safeguards is sorely disappointing. We hoped that the extensive, four-year long review process would produce a set of policies that would boldly set a new bar for the international development community. Instead, we’re left with a draft that’s riddled with loopholes, fails to meet other international standards, and in some cases, is weaker than existing policies.

“There are some improvements in key areas, but unfortunately, not all of them are robust enough. For example, the safeguards include Free and Prior Informed Consent requirements when working with Indigenous Peoples, but how they define ‘consent’ leaves open the possibility for abuse.

“It’s a shame that backroom politics and government interests appear to have weighed more in the drafting of these policies than the lives of people affected by the Bank’s work. The safeguards haven’t been formally approved yet— we urge to Bank to strengthen them before they’re endorsed by the Board of Directors in early August.”

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Contact information: 

Simon Hernandez-Arthur in Washington
+1 585 503 4568