The World Bank Liberia Country office on Monday began a two-day training for ministers and heads of agencies on implementation of the Environmental and Social Framework (ESF) designed by the bank and partners.
“The ESF is an important evolution in protection of people and the environment in project finance; but it is not a radical departure from existing safeguards processes,” said Larisa Leshchenko, World Bank Liberia Country Manager when she addressed the opening of the training in Monrovia.
According to her, the ESF has already gone through an extensive consultation period with various stakeholders across the globe and will be launched in October this year.
She revealed that assessing and managing environmental and social impacts in the World Bank financed projects has been a core concern of the bank for more than 40 years.
The bank’s current safeguard policies issued nearly 20 years ago set the standard for multilateral development banks in protection for people and the environment.
The safeguard policies, she said, apply to all International Banks for Reconstruction and Development, International Development Association investment project finance covering 1,345 projects with a net commitment of U$185.2 billion, representing a little over 85% of the bank’s total portfolio in terms of volume.
Approved by the bank’s board in August 2016, the bank will upon the launch of the ESF in October this year to begin borrowing to interested countries under the new program, considering applicable safeguard policies, while applying some elements of the ESF most of which are new.
As a project, the ESF offers a broad and systematic coverage of environmental and social risks and makes important advances in areas such as transparency, non-discrimination, public participation, and accountability, including expanded roles for grievance mechanisms.
It brings the World Bank’s environmental and social protections into closer harmony with those of other development institutions.