You can write the best policy and require the most thorough environmental and social assessment, but unless the actions to prevent or mitigate risks are integrated into companies’ business operations and carried out on a day-to-day basis, you don’t get the results on the ground.
That is what, we at IFC, have concluded after many years of experience working with private companies in developing countries and requiring of them that they abide by our environmental and social standards. For this reason, we decided to take a new approach as we revise our environmental and social standards. In the past, IFC’s policies focused on the process, like generating studies, reports and assessments. Sometimes these landed on a shelf far from the offices of peoples in operation.
In the new standards, the IFC will take an outcomes-based approach. This means that companies will clearly be responsible for operationalizing environmental and social assessments. They will have to demonstrate that they have a robust management system and will have to produce a public action plan detailing what measures they plan to take to minimize environment and social impacts.