Environmental and Social Framework: Countdown to ESF Launch

The launch of the new Environmental and Social Framework (ESF) is around the corner: all World Bank Investment Project Financing (IPF) projects with concept note decisions after October 1, 2018 will apply the ESF. Existing IPFs will continue to apply the current Safeguards policies. With this important milestone only seven months away, the pace of preparation is picking up.

The ESF, which was approved in August 2016 by the World Bank Board of Executive Directors, is broader and more systematic in its coverage of social and environmental issues. It includes, for example, specific reference to community health and safety. It also looks at the climate impact of projects.

To successfully launch the ESF, several key actions are being carried out at this time: namely, working with Borrowers to deepen their understanding of the ESF; training all Bank staff involved in IPF projects; and preparing initial guidance materials, tools, templates, and other materials, which will be updated with lessons from implementation.

Building an awareness among Borrowers

Under the ESF, Borrowers are responsible for meeting requirements under the ten Environmental and Social Standards of the ESF. The Standards include issues previously covered under the Safeguard Policies, such as involuntary resettlement and the protection of Indigenous Peoples. They also cover a number of new areas: for instance, Environmental and Social Standard 2 promotes safety and health at work, fair treatment, nondiscrimination and equal opportunity of project worker. Environmental and Social Standard 10 promotes stakeholder engagement throughout the entire project life-cycle.

To increase client familiarity with these requirements, the Bank is rolling out Borrower workshops focused on the content of the ESF. They are targeted at high-level officials, project implementation staff, and other stakeholders, including civil society, the private sector, universities and training centers, and in-country bilateral agencies.

The first Borrower workshops took place in the Philippines from February 19 to 23, and in Ghana from February 26 to March 2. The Ghana workshops included government representatives from Sierra Leone and Liberia. Initial feedback is encouraging, with participants commenting on how the ESF allows for a more systematic and in-depth coverage of environmental and social issues over the life of the projects.

Staff training – sign up for eLearning!

Bank staff will support Borrowers in their implementation of the standards. All Bank staff engaged in investment project financing need to have a good understanding of both Borrower and World Bank requirements under the ESF.

A two-part training has been developed for Bank staff. It consists of: an eLearning course on the ESF content; and a Face-to-Face training course, applying the ESF through case studies. Training is well underway, with 450+ Environmental and Social Specialists having completed the eLearning and a five-day training course.

ESF eLearning is now available for all Bank staff, and staff are encouraged to enroll in the course at this time. Face-to-Face training for Bank staff, other than Environmental and Social Specialists, begins in April and training courses will run regularly both in headquarters and regional hubs over the next 12-18 months. Completion of the eLearning course is a prerequisite to take the Face-to-Face training course.

Complementary guidance and tools

To assist staff and Borrowers in implementing the ESF, an array of complementary guidance materials, including good practice notes and tools are under preparation, led by staff from OPCS, SD, LEG, and ECR.

For Borrowers, Guidance Notes on the 10 Environmental and Social Standards in the ESF are being finalized, after a seven week public comment period in November / December 2017. Borrowers will also be equipped with templates, for example for the Environmental and Social Commitment Plan (ESCP), the Labor Management Plan, and the Stakeholder Engagement Plan.

For staff, an Environmental and Social Directive for Investment Project Financing will set out the operational rules and roles of staff with Accountability and Decision Making (ADM) responsibilities. Equally, good practice notes, on specific topics including disability, third party monitoring, and stakeholder identification are also under development.

Further updates will be posted in the lead-up to the October 2018 ESF launch. For now, click here to enroll in the ESF eLearning!

Related Links:

•  ESF eLearning Course
•  Environmental and Social Framework