Facilitating a Stakeholder Engagement Process for the IFC’s Global Policy Review

CBI designs and facilitates a stakeholder engagement process to identify stakeholder concerns about updates to the International Finance Corporation’s Safeguards Policy and Disclosure Policies. 

Background and Challenges

International finance institutions (IFIs) seek to balance stakeholder expectations for social and environmental protection with the promotion of sound and sustainable business. As the public demands more transparency and disclosure from both private and public-sector organizations, IFIs are working to develop environmental and social policies that clarify how these transparency principles apply to their investment projects.

As part of its Global Policy Review, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) – the private arm of the World Bank – sought to update its Safeguards Policy and Disclosure Policies as a means of promoting efficiency and accountability in its development projects. The process was intended to comprehensively examine minimum safeguard requirements applicable to IFC projects; make them easier to use; address major issue gaps as appropriate; and emphasize the concept of sustainability.

CBI was retained by IFC to design and facilitate an external stakeholder engagement process to discuss the draft policies as part of the review process. 

The CBI Approach

CBI partners with IFC and local facilitators to facilitate four regional workshops with businesses, NGOs, and governments, and summarizes stakeholders’ points of consensus and disagreement about the IFC’s draft policies.

CBI and IFC jointly designed four regional consultation workshops on the Safeguard Policies and Disclosure Policy. These workshops provided an opportunity for engagement with private sector organizations, civil society organizations, governments and international organizations from each of the following regions:

  • Latin America and the Caribbean (workshop held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil);
  • Asia (workshop held in Manila, Philippines)
  • Sub-Saharan Africa (workshop held in Nairobi, Kenya)
  • Europe, Central Asia, and Middle East (workshop held in Istanbul, Turkey)

CBI designed the engagement process not only to maximize opportunities to discuss the draft policies with knowledgeable stakeholders, but also to jointly explore ways to improve the Safeguards. The process also sought to ensure that policies could be implemented by IFC and its clients within a reasonable time and at a reasonable cost.

Working with local facilitators, the CBI team used a comprehensive set of ground rules to prepare participants for the meetings and manage the conversation. CBI summarized key issues discussed at the workshops, with a focus on specific comments and suggestions for the policies themselves. To encourage candid discussion, CBI did not attribute comments to individuals, but rather captured key areas of consensus and disagreement.

Results

The IFC produces revised Performance Standards based on stakeholder comments.

Following the stakeholder engagement process, the finalized standards were released by the IFC. The revised standards presented a new mechanism for deciding, investment-by-investment, where the bar on environmental and social performance should be placed. Of the eight Performance Standards, the linchpin was PS 1, which reframed the way in which environmental and social issues are handled. No longer do clients commission isolated ESIA studies, or outsource to external consultants. Instead, PS1 presents the standards as a single, comprehensive risk and opportunities framework, fully integrated within the core business procedure of the investment project itself.

Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons/acameronhuff