A local non-governmental organization, Volunteer to Support International Effort In Development Africa (VOSIEDA) has called on the World Bank to prioritize public education and awareness on the new Environmental and Social Framework (ESF) if it is to achieve its goals.
Program Manager of VOSIEDA, Abraham Billy made the call on Tuesday, June 12, 2018 when he attended a one day Stakeholders consultative forum on the Environment and Social Framework organized by the Bank at Cape Hotel in Monrovia.
Sharing his perspectives with journalists shortly after the workshop, Billy said the new innovation by the Bank is a demonstration of world actors’ commitment to mitigate environmental hazards and improve the living condition of the world’s population.
“I think the ESF is a smart move by the Bank to buttress efforts to mitigate environmental hazards and improve the living condition of people across the globe”, said Abraham Billy.
However, VOSIEDA Program Manager noted that, although a Stakeholders consultation on ESF is good, its successful implementation alsodepends on intensive public education and awareness program.
According to him, such education should not be limited at urban levels or within national government circles, but also reach rural dwellers who are most often victims of neglect owing to bad governance. He further cautioned the Bank to involve capable civil society organizations around the world to help in the public education campaign of the ESF if it must get the desire outcomes.
“I wouldn’t want to say the Bank is not contemplating on carrying out awareness on the ESF, but I think working with CSOs in the area of public education campaign would enhance the ESF process”, he emphasized.
Speaking at the opening of the workshop, Larisa Leshchenko, World Bank Liberia Country Manager revealed that the ESF is an important evolution in protecting people and the environment.ESFas a new environmental approachis not a radical departure from existing safeguards processes but a walk along process.
“The ESF is an important evolution in protecting 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.
According to her, the ESF has already gone through an extensive consultation period with various stakeholders, including governments, funding agencies, communities, etc. across the globe and will be launched in October of this year.
She revealed that assessing and managing environmental and social impacts in the World Bank’s financed projects has been a core concern of the bank for more than 40 years which this framework seeks to address.
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, 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.
The ESF brings he Bank’s environmental and social protections into closer harmony with those of other development institutions.