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60-Day Public Comment Period Reaches Halfway Point for Input on the New Draft Sustainability Policy and Performance Standards and the draft Disclosure Policy

Submitted by: International Finance Corporation

Categories: Business Ethics

Posted: Oct 30, 2005 – 11:00 PM EST

 

IFC Releases Additional Background Materials to the Public

Consultation Advisory No. 11 - International Finance Corporation marked the halfway point of its 60-day public comment period on its latest draft Policy and Performance Standards on Social and Environmental Sustainability, and draft Disclosure Policy, by publicly releasing four new background documents:

  • A Summary of the Committee on Development Effectiveness (CODE) meeting on September 7, 2005. CODE, a subcommittee of the IFC Board, discussed the draft policies at the meeting and prepared a summary of their discussion, which the full IFC Board agreed to release on October 25, 2005.

  • A Memorandum produced by the World Bank's Environmentally and Socially Sustainable Development (ESSD) network in preparation for CODE's meeting on September 7, 2005, which is accompanied by an IFC Cover Note.

  • A Comparison Matrix showing the commitments made in the Extractive Industry Review (EIR) Management Response and the way they have been addressed in the draft policies. The matrix was produced following meetings in mid-October with stakeholders who were part of the EIR.

    The new documents provide stakeholders with additional context for understanding IFC's policy approach, and reflect IF''s commitment to a transparent policy review. These documents can be found on the policy review website, www.ifc.org/policyreview, together with the policy documents and supporting materials that were released on September 22, 2005. It is important to note the draft policies that have been posted on the IFC website for public comment have incorporated some of the comments from CODE and ESSD.

    The public comment period ends on November 25, 2005. IFC will then review all comments submitted and revise the draft policies accordingly. The IFC Board is expected to consider final drafts in January 2006.

    Background on IFC's Policy Review
    IFC adopted the current Environmental and Social Safeguard Policies and its Disclosure Policy in 1998. In 2003, following a review of the policies by Office of the Compliance Adviser/Ombudsman, IFC launched an update of its Safeguard Policies and Disclosure Policy.

    IFC has recast the Safeguard Policies into a "Sustainability Policy" and eight "Performance Standards". The Sustainability Policy speaks to IFC's roles and responsibilities in ensuring project performance in partnership with clients; the Performance Standards clarifies what is required of clients in order to receive and retain IFC's support.

    IFC is taking a new, outcomes-based approach to environmental and social performance. This approach is based on clients establishing effective management systems to ensure compliance with IFC requirements and improve results on the ground. The Performance Standards also add new requirements relating to integrated social and environmental assessment, early and ongoing community engagement, core labor standards, greenhouse gas emissions, and community health and safety standards.

    The new draft Disclosure Policy clarifies and expands the responsibilities of IFC to disclose institutional information to the public. The disclosure requirements for clients are found in the draft Performance Standards. There is an emphasis on early and ongoing engagement with communities that are affected by projects.

    In August 2004, IFC released an initial draft of the IFC Policy and Performance Standards, and a Disclosure Policy Framework for public consultation. After eight-months of formal and informal consultation and thousands of comments in person, online and on paper, IFC then revised the drafts to take into account the wide range of views about the new approach and specific policy language.

    The new drafts have been significantly improved as a result of this consultation, and IFC is grateful to those who have engaged in the consultation process. Multiple changes have been made to incorporate many of the comments received, balancing the concerns of IFC government shareholders, staff, its clients, civil society organizations and others. An "IFC Response to Stakeholder Comments," which explains IFC's rationale behind the changes to the initial draft policies and responds broadly to the wide range of comments and suggestions during consultations, is available on IFC's policy review website www.ifc.org/policyreview.

    The International Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, promotes sustainable private sector investment in developing and transition countries, helping to reduce poverty and improve people's lives. IFC finances private sector investments, mobilizes capital in the international financial markets, helps clients improve social and environmental sustainability, and provides technical assistance and advice to governments and businesses. Its 178 member countries provide its share capital and collectively determine its policies. IFC's worldwide committed portfolio as of FY05 was $19.3 billion for its own account and $5.3 billion held for participants in loan syndications. For more information, visit www.ifc.org.

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