How We Work : CAO Policy Review

Arne Hoel, The World Bank

CAO has conducted an independent review to inform IFC's update of its Policy and Performance Standards on Environmental and Social Sustainability and Disclosure Policy. With a focus on implementation of IFC's policies and standards since they were launched in 2006, CAO looked at issues of direct impact on project-affected communities.

CAO Advisory Note: Review of IFC's Policy and Performance Standards on Social and Environmental Sustainability and Policy on Disclosure of Information

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What questions does the CAO Advisory Note address and how?

CAO's Advisory Note focused on how the IFC’s new policy framework has affected relationships and impacts at the local level.  Have projects processed under the Sustainability Framework been characterized by early engagement of local communities?  Have IFC’s interventions led to predictability around processes and outcomes for both companies and communities?  Has there been meaningful engagement of local stakeholders on environmental and social requirements and Action Plans?  You can read up on our approach in more detail in CAO's Approach Paper.

What information was gathered for this Advisory Note?

CAO sought answers to the above questions using a variety of tools: a portfolio review of IFC investments, a local stakeholder perceptions study around five projects in the field, interviews with World Bank Group staff, and feedback from CAO's outreach to civil society since 2007.. 


Approach development

March – May 2009

Portfolio Review

May – October 2009

Local Stakeholder Perceptions Study

October  – December 2009

Stakeholder outreach on specific issues

November 2009 – January 2010

Final Advisory Note

March-April 2010

Portfolio Review

We chose projects that would yield relevant insights on the questions of interest to us-- the effectiveness and impact of the Sustainability Framework on policy areas of direct impact on communities--and projects that were broadly representative of IFC’s portfolio.   We explain our project selection in more detail here.

Local Stakeholder Perceptions Study

CAO contracted Consensus Building Institute (CBI) to carry out a local stakeholder perceptions study.  The objectives of this study were to:

  • Provide a fair and balanced account of the perceptions of local stakeholders on selected IFC supported projects;
  • Be based on an understanding of the company’s engagement with host communities and impact mitigation activities, and ascertain the companies’ experience working with IFC and implementing the relevant aspects of the Performance Standards; 
  • Ascertain whether project impacts and mitigation measures are predictable for both communities and companies.

Read more about the approach of the Local Stakeholder Perceptions study in CAO's request for proposals.

Civil Society Outreach

CAO's extensive outreach to civil society organizations in IFC member countries provided valuable input to assess the effectiveness of IFC’s Policy on Disclosure of Information.

Background and Context

IFC’s Policy and Performance Standards and Disclosure Policy were adopted in 2006 after a policy review that lasted several years.  They replace the safeguard policies which had been in place since 1998.  The CAO has played a role throughout the development of IFC’s policy framework.  Relevant key CAO inputs are posted below. 

CAO Commentary on IFC’s Progress Report on the first 18 month of application of the PPS

CAO's comments on January 25, 2006 drafts of IFC's Policy and Performance Standards on Social and Environmental Sustainability and Policy on Disclosure Information

IFC Management Response to CAO Comments on January 25, 2006 drafts

CAO Comments on IFC Draft Policy on Disclosure of Information (Nov. 2005)

Safeguard Policy Review Revisited (2005)

Review of IFC's Safeguard Policies (2003)