Tuesday, 02 July 2013

Under review: The World Bank's safeguard policies

On 18 June 2013, BICC invited to an expert talk “Under review: The World Bank¹s environmental and social safeguard policies” with Dr. Korinna Horta, expert for international finance, environment and human rights at “urgewald”. She provided critical insights on environmental and social safeguard standards established by the World Bank and their proposed review.

Korinna Horta (© DW/M. Maguni)

The World Bank’s (WB) environmental and social safeguard policies are under review. These safeguards are seen by the WB as embodying core values of the institution. They should ensure that people and the environment are protected and sustainable development is achieved. The safeguards are applied in the realm of large infrastructure projects as well as investments in extractive industries or large-scale agricultural investments. The World Bank’s safeguards serve as a gold standard to other institutions and are therefore of utmost importance. 

Large-scale investments bear great risks for the environment and people living in the concerned area. Negative impacts of such investments have often led to social unrest and conflicts between the affected population and investors. Reviewing the safeguards has the potential to avoid such conflicts in the future. Strong safeguards which are strictly applied can prevent damage and effectively protect the people and the environment. At the same time, it is not excluded that the review process might weaken the safeguards, carrying the risk of renewed conflict potential. 

“Under review: The World Bank¹s environmental and social safeguard policies” (in English, mp3), presentation by Korinna Horta