Liberia: World Bank Conducts Environmental, Social Framework Training For Gov’t Officials
Monrovia – World Bank Liberia Country Manager, Larisa Leshchenko, has assured stakeholders that the Bank’s Environmental and Social Framework (ESF) will make a significant impact and improve its operation.
Report by Gerald Koinyeneh, [email protected]
The ESF is expected to be launched in October this year.
She said the ESF offers a broad and systematic coverage of environmental and social risks, and makes important advances in transparency, non-discrimination, public participation, and accountability including expanded roles for grievance redress mechanisms.
Speaking at the opening of a two-day training aimed at enlightening heads of government’s ministries and agencies on the ESF, Madam Leshchenko said although the framework is an important evolution in protecting people and the environment in project finance, it is not about a radical departure from the existing safeguards processes.
“The World Bank is committed to a long-term process aimed at building borrower’s capacity strengthening to support implementation of the ESF-this discussion marks the beginning of that process. Capacity and institution building is critical and is core to ESF effort. Since the safeguards were created, many of our burrower countries have made considerable advances to develop and implement robust environmental and social policies,” she averred.
She said assessing and managing environmental and social impacts in World Bank financed projects has been a core concern of the institution for more than 40 years.
According to her, the current safeguard policies, issued nearly 20 years ago set the standards for multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) in protection for people and the environment and it applies to International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), International Development Association (IDA), Investment Project Finance, covering 1,354 projects with a net commitment amount of US$85.2billion.
This, she said, represents just over 85% of the Bank’s total portfolio in terms of volume.
The World Bank Country Manager also noted that although the safeguards have served the World Bank and its borrowers well, there is need to harmonize the policies with other international financial institutions such as the International Finance Corporation (IFC).
She added policies must reflect concerns which have emerged since the operational policies were draft; some of which include risks related to climate change which were not known when the operational policy on Environmental Assessment was first issued in 1989.
Why the ESF?
According to Madam Leshchenko, the World Bank decided to adopt the ESF because of its more systematic coverage of all environmental and social issues, its new adaptive and clear approach and its emphasis on country systems.
In addition, she said the ESF offers broader and deeper coverage of social and environmental risks and addresses social issues such as labor standards and working conditions, community health and safety, transparency and stakeholder engagement and non-discrimination provisions.
“The ESF also calls for proportionality. All risks should not be treated equally. More resources should be allotted for due diligence to projects with greater risks. The ESF brings the opportunity of a stronger focus on using country systems. It enables the burrower to propose the allocation of relevant parts of its environmental and social framework to a project,” she outlined.
Also speaking, WB Senior Social Development Specialist stationed in Ghana, Charles Ankisiba said to end poverty and promote shared prosperity; stakeholders must consider all aspects of social and environmental sustainability.
Mr. Ankisiba, a co-facilitator of the training said the World Bank will boost protection for people and the environment, promote capacity and institution strengthening, and provide efficiency for both the government and the bank.
Meanwhile, a participant of the training, Solomon Y. Dahn of the Paynesville City Corporation welcome ESF and hope that will have a trigger-down effect on ordinary citizens.
“I hope the framework will make a difference in the lives of the ordinary people. It is a unique policy and when implemented I believe will help fight poverty and promote shared prosperity,” he said.