Seriously flawed consultation process for IFC Safeguard Policy Update. Joint sign on letter sent --by 56 Southern and 65 Northern organizations (many MIC Eastern European) as well as 3 individuals-- to the World Bank and IFC
Mr. James Wolfensohn
World Bank Group
1818H Street, NW
Washington DC 20433
Mr. Peter Woicke
Executive Vice President
International Finance Corporation
2121 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington DC 20433
Dear Mr. Wolfensohn and Mr. Woicke,
Re: Seriously flawed consultation process for IFC Safeguard Policy Update
We, the undersigned members of development, human rights, environmental and indigenous peoples’ organisations, and concerned individuals, would like to inform you of our deep concerns about the IFC Safeguard and Disclosure Update Process which is already underway.
As the IFC itself acknowledges, its proposals could become a global benchmark for international investment for both public and private financiers. While we support the intention of the IFC to update its policies, we are alarmed that the first consultation drafts (dated 12 August 2004) imply a major shift from a mandatory and compliance-based approach to a mainly discretionary approach. Such a shift would dilute the responsibilities of a public institution and undermine its accountability to affected communities.
The substantial proposed revisions to the policies largely ignore the priorities and concerns expressed by rights-holders and civil society organisations in numerous previous Bank consultations on its safeguard policies. The proposals likewise disregard many key recommendations and lessons emerging from the safeguard policy review undertaken by the Compliance Advisor and Ombudsman (CAO) and the recently completed Extractive Industries Review (EIR).
We believe that the IFC revision process should result in a mandatory and rights-based approach to “safeguard” and disclosure issues and better protection of people and the environment in accordance with the World Bank Group’s mandate to alleviate poverty through sustainable development. However, the draft documents that have been released reveal a disturbing re-orientation of the policies towards accommodating the needs of private sector clients, with scant mention of the rights of the affected communities whose interests would be most impacted by these proposals.
Given the potentially significant implications of such proposed changes, the IFC must, as a minimum, ensure that its process for engagement with civil society is undertaken in accordance with World Bank best practice and the IFC's own guidelines for good faith public consultation.
At present, the process is fundamentally flawed. The timeframe will exclude and marginalise the participation of civil society groups, especially those most affected by the proposed substantial changes. The rushed schedule also seems to be driven by an internal and arbitrary desire to conclude this process by February next year. This allows only a little over four months for a proposed worldwide debate on the IFC's plans to replace the entire set of its existing Safeguards. We feel this is a grossly inadequate period to re-assess policies and standards which took years to formulate.
Furthermore, documents essential for assessing the full ramifications of these policy revisions, such as the implementation guides and the IFC's revised corporate procedures, are simply not available yet. In addition, less than 30 days before the first regional consultation planned to take place in Brazil, the proposed draft documentation has still not been translated into all appropriate languages, including Portuguese.
These serious flaws and shortcomings in the proposed consultation process are not acceptable and do not reflect a good faith engagement with civil society by the IFC. If our organizations are to consider participating in the IFC consultation, we believe that it is essential that the IFC takes at least the following measures:
1. Suspend immediately the start of the consultation process on the Safeguard Policy Update until all relevant information has been made publicly available in all appropriate languages at least 30 days prior to the first regional consultation. This includes the implementation guides and revised IFC corporate procedures.
2. Postpone the consultations on the disclosure policy until at least 30 days after the full draft revised policy is made available to the public in the appropriate languages.
3. Extend substantially the period for consultation on the first draft consultation documents.
In order to ensure transparency and informed and equitable participation we also recommend that the consultation process is revised to:
a. Include a self-selection process for civil society groups and indigenous peoples in the regional consultations (if indigenous organisations or leaders in each region so choose).
b. Make information on the participants invited to each consultation publicly available prior the meetings.
c. Provide comprehensive summaries of the meetings to the public within 30 days of each consultation.
d. Include an additional open hearing for any interested party to give input and allow anyone access with observer status for the regional consultations.
e. Make the subsequent version of the IFC draft proposals available for public comment for a period of at least 90 days - following the first consultation phase.
f. Indicate in the second public draft of the proposed policies where comments were incorporated and provide rationale for accepting or rejecting certain recommendations.
Given the fact that the first regional consultation is scheduled for the end of this month, we trust that you will take immediate steps to rectify this current process which is at present fundamentally flawed. We hope to hear a response from the Bank on its action to implement measures to ensure effective public consultation no later than 24th September 2004.
Unless the above minimum preconditions for meaningful and informed consultation are in are put in place, we do not see how we can participate in this process as we fear it will be lacking any acceptable level of credibility.
Signed jointly by the following organisations and individuals:
Jorge Acosta Arias
Centro de Derechos Económicos y Sociales / Organización de Derechos Humanos
Rede Brasil, Brasil
Delhi Forum, India
Movimiento Madre Tierra, Friends of the Earth Honduras
Elías Días Peía
Sobrevivencia, Friends of the Earth Paraguay
Edgar Gonzales Castro
Quechua-Aymara Association for Sustainable Livelihoods (ANDES), Peru
Nilton Desa Arroyo
Ecovida, Association for Environmental Defense of Cajamarca, Peru
Ecologist Asia. India
Third World Network – Africa
Asociacion Civil labor- Friends of the Earth Peru
COECO-Ceiba- Friends of the Earth Costa Rica
Centre for Environmental Justice, Sri Lanka
Society for Water and Public Health Protection (SWAPHEP), Nigeria
Tebtebba, The Philippines
Pacific Indigenous Peoples Environment Coalition (PIPEC), Aotearoa/New Zealand
National Forum of Forest Peoples and Forest Workers, India
Peoples Alliance for Livelihood Rights, India
The Corner House, UK
Amici della Terra (FoE Italy)
Friends of the Earth England, Wales & N.Ireland
Friends of the Earth International
Rettet den Regenwald, Germany
Forest Peoples Programme, UK
Indigenous Peoples Links, UK
Environmental Defense, USA
BankTrack, The Netherlands
Hildebrando Vélez Galeano
CENSAT AGUA VIVA- Friends of The Earth Colombia
Netwerk Vlaanderen vzw/Anders Omgaan met Geld, Belgium
Friends of the Earth - United States
CEE Bankwatch Network
Centre for Transport and Energy (CDE), Czech Republic
Hnuti Duha, Czech Republic
Center for Environmental Information and Education, Bulgaria
Za Zemiata , Bulgaria
Estonian green Movement-FoE Estonia
Green Alternative, Georgia
Atgaja community, Lithuania
Polish Green Net, Poland
Institute for Environmental Tax Reform, Poland
Center for Environmental Public Advocacy , Slovakia
National Ecological Center of Ukraine
Friends of the Earth, Netherlands
50 Years Is Enough: U.S. Network for Global Economic Justice, USA
Center for Orang Asli Concerns
Les Amis de la Terre, France
Magnólia Azevedo Said
ESPLAR, Centro de Pesquisa e Assessoria, Brasil
W E E D - World Economy, Ecology & Development, Germany
Forests Monitor, UK
Centro per la Riforma della Banca Mondiale (CRBM), Italy
Asian Indigenous Women’s Network, The Philippines
Bretton Woods Project, UK
The Disinvestment Campaign, The Netherlands
Pakistan Network for Rivers Dams and People, Pakistan.
Proyecto Gato, Belgium
International Accountability Project, USA
Lars Hasselblad Torres
Deliberative Democracy, USA
Sustainable Energy and Economy Network, Institute for Policy Studies, USA
Fuerza Unida de Seis Pueblos/Centro de Desarrollo Ambiental (FUSPU/CENDA)
Friends of the Earth, Canada
Jorge León T
Both ENDS, The Netherlands
Mangrove Action Project, USA
International Rivers Network, USA
Friends of the Siberian Forests, Russia
Indigenous Peoples Biodiversity Network, Peru
Global Response, USA
Down to Earth: the International Campaign for Ecological Justice in Indonesia, UK
Eric Bourgeois, Ph.D.
Maria L. Butler
Concerned Citizen, Social and Human Rights Advocate and Environmentalist
Mag. Rudolf Remler
Dreikönigsaktion der Kath. Jungschar
NGO Working Group on Export Development Canada, CANADA
Renate Domnick, Coordinator
Society for Threatened Peoples, Germany
Friends of the Earth Japan, Japan
Réseau Foi & Justice Afrique Europe, France
Halifax Initiative Coalition, Canada
Asociación Estoreña Para el Desarrollo Integral (AEPDI), Guatemala
Public Citizen, USA
Rev. Douglas B. Hunt
United Church of Christ Network For Environmental & Economic Responsibility
Pacific Environment, USA
Carlos Zorro Sánchez
CIDER, Universidad de los Andes, Colombia
Friends of the Earth Australia
Wassa Association of Communities Affected by Mining (WACAM), Ghana.
Japan Center for a Sustainable Environment and Society (JACSES), Japan
Romanian Folk Art Museum, USA
Sustainable Chile Program, Chile
Romanian-American League, USA
Institute for Ecology and Action Anthropology (INFOE), Germany
Katie Redford, Esq., EarthRights International, USA
Andreas Missbach, Berne Declaration, Switzerland
Ecoa - Ecology and Action., Brazil
Alvaro Gomez Concha
La Red Nacional de Accion Ecologica RENACE, Chile
International Tibet Support Network
Rainforest Information Centre, Australia
World Rainforest Movement, Uruguay
Jean Koueda Koung
Global Village, Cameroon
Lokayan and Intercultural Resources, India
Australia Tibet Council, Australia
SOS Selangor, Malaysia
Eduardo C. de Guzman
Dr. Knarik Hovhannisyan
AQUAEC Corporation, Republic of Armenia
Nijera Kori, Bangladesh
Kashtakari Sanghatna, India
Association of Sosial Economic Researches Azerbaijan
Rev. David Ugolor
African Network for Environment and Economic Justice(ANEEJ), Nigeria
Daniel Sergio Verzeñassi, El Foro Ecologista de Paraná, Argentina
Elvira Díaz Colodrero, Red de Organizaciones Socioambientales de Entre Ríos, Argentina
Executive Directors of the World Bank Group
Rachel Kyte, IFC