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Social Safeguards

Securing the benefits of development for local communities: A series on social safeguards for social sustainability

Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez's picture

Development is challenging even under the best of conditions.  It can be even more difficult when the local context is complex, and when some groups face the risk of losing out as part of the development process.

The World Bank's environmental and social safeguard policies are a cornerstone of its support to sustainable poverty reduction. The objective of these policies is to prevent and mitigate undue harm to people and their environment in the development process.

On the people side, the World Bank has two specific policies that support this objective. These are often referred to as the social safeguard policies – on "Involuntary Resettlement" and "Indigenous Peoples." 

While the implementation of the policies can sometimes be challenging, they have – in the large majority of World Bank-financed projects – made a real difference in peoples’ lives and livelihoods. Together with communities, implementing agencies, and technical specialists, the application of these policies have brought restoration and improvement of livelihoods to families across the world.

We have best practices and many human stories emerging from different parts of the world on the application of these policies that we want to share.  Going forward, we'll share some of these experiences to help promote sustainable development through a “Social Safeguards in Action” blog series.

We want to invite you to follow this “Social Safeguards in Action” blog series – as part of our Sustainable Communities blogs – where we will be illustrating with a variety of examples,  results stories, and in some cases, even unexpected lessons learned that go beyond just doing no harm, in implementation of social safeguard policies in resettlement and Indigenous Peoples in the World Bank.  In the coming weeks, you’ll see examples from India, Kenya, Vietnam, and many other countries.

In 2018, the Environmental and Social Framework (ESF) will come into effect and will gradually replace the Safeguard policies. The two sets of policies will operate in parallel for about seven years. The ESF builds on the experience and the good practice the Bank has developed implementing the Safeguards.

Getting to Yes on the Next Generation of Safeguards

Stefan Koeberle's picture
In July 2012, the World Bank embarked on a review and update of its policies to protect people and the environment in the projects it finances.  There is no question that a strong Environmental and Social Framework is essential to achieving the World Bank’s goals of reducing poverty and building shared prosperity.  It is also fair to say there are strong opinions about how best to craft these policies.