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The IDB launches new Environmental and Social Policy Framework

The IDB has launched a new Environmental and Social Policy Framework (ESPF) as part of its commitment to help achieve sustainable development in Latin America and the Caribbean. 

The policy framework sets world-class standards that IDB projects will need to meet to protect people and the environment. Beyond updating previous policies, it is comprehensive in areas such as gender and diversity, stakeholder engagement, and stronger protections for workers and communities. The framework applies to new investment loans, grants, guarantees, and has specific provisions for policy-based loans and technical cooperation projects.

The IDB is the first multilateral development bank with a stand-alone standard on gender equality that explicitly includes protections for people of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities.  This reinforces the IDB’s commitment to gender and diversity as outlined in the Vision 2025 path for economic recovery of the region.

The ESPF also provides greater clarity on the roles and responsibilities of the IDB and the borrower and aligns new standards to international good practice.  This new framework is outcome-oriented, focusing on development outcomes over process requirements, and is integrated in a way that the previous policies were not. 

“These standards elevate respect for human rights to the core of environmental and social risk management and offer clients cutting-edge provisions to manage environmental and social issues,” said IDB President, Mauricio Claver-Carone. “We are moving beyond a ‘doing no harm’ approach and into a ‘ensuring thoughtful, conscientious approach’ in our work, which is fully aligned with our mission of improving lives.”

The performance standards in the ESPF are no longer focused only on preventing potential risks and impacts to the environment and people: they seek to add value and improve development outcomes. For example, the standard on labor and working conditions align the IDB with peer institutions and international agreements in the protection of the fundamental rights of workers.  This standard promotes fair treatment, non-discrimination, and equal opportunity for workers, offers protections for workers in situations of vulnerability and promotes safe and healthy working conditions.

Standard on community health, safety, and security is also an important improvement in the protection of project-affected communities from a variety of adverse impacts.  It offers guidance on how to protect communities from exposure to contagious diseases that could be brought about or made worse through project activities, incorporating lessons learned from the current pandemic.  It also includes provisions for emergency preparedness and resilience to natural hazards.

The new framework is aligned with international best practices on biodiversity protection and conservation. In addition, the ESPF stipulates specific circumstances where free, prior, and informed consent is required from Indigenous Peoples; and provides differentiated protections for people that may be in a vulnerable position, including African descendants and persons with disabilities. To obtain open, transparent, and inclusive engagement around projects, the ESPF also includes a stand-alone standard on stakeholder engagement and information disclosure, which requires grievance mechanisms for projects.

To help governments implement the new framework, the IDB has prepared a series of borrower guidelines corresponding to each of the ten performance standards. These documents provide executing agencies with additional practical information on how to operationalize the ESPF in line with international good practice.

Also, the IDB  developed a self-paced, free online course that covers all ten performance standards through illustrative stories from Latin America and the Caribbean. Participants will learn about the importance of environmental and social management and the scope of the new framework.  They will be able to identify the objectives of the different performance standards, recognize important changes to requirements, and identify the roles and responsibilities of the different actors involved in environmental and social management.

About the IDB

The Inter-American Development Bank is devoted to improving lives. Established in 1959, the IDB is a leading source of long-term financing for economic, social, and institutional development in Latin America and the Caribbean. The IDB also conducts cutting-edge research and provides policy advice, technical assistance, and training to public and private sector clients throughout the region. Take our virtual tour.