At the Inter-American Development Bank, we believe that the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean can improve the lives of their citizens while protecting the region’s abundant natural resources.
As part of our commitment to help achieve sustainable development for our borrowers, the IDB has launched a new Environmental and Social Policy Framework (ESPF), which became effective on November 1st, 2021. This framework modernizes the IDB’s safeguard policies that guide the management of environmental and social risks and impacts in our projects. The ESPF applies to new investment loans, grants, and guarantees, as well as some policy-based loans and technical cooperation.
The ESPF incorporates many improvements, including providing greater clarity on the roles and responsibilities of the IDB and the borrower, and aligning our 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.
A key change is the ESPF’s focus on doing good beyond not doing harm. The Environmental and Social Performance Standards (ESPS) are no longer focused only on preventing potential risks and impacts to the environment and people; they also seek to add value and improve development outcomes through international best practices in environmental and social management.
Another big difference is the use of an environmental and social management system that organizes the various processes and requirements presented in the 10 ESPS. This management system is developed and executed by the borrower and contains all the different elements necessary to successfully manage environmental and social risks and impacts.
The ESPF also sets ambitious new standards in several areas which were previously not covered and updates provisions in areas where policies existed. 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.
For example, ESPS 2 on labor and working conditions aligns 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.
ESPS 4 on community health, safety, and security is an important improvement in the protection of project-affected communities from a variety of adverse impacts. This standard offers guidance on how to protect communities from exposure to contagious diseases that could be brought about or made worse through project activities. It also includes provisions for emergency preparedness and resilience to natural hazards.
The new framework includes a dedicated, stand-alone standard on gender equality, and 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 vulnerable, 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 executing agencies with the implementation of the new framework, the IDB has prepared a series of ten 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.
To build the capacity of our partners in the region and raise awareness of the principal elements of the ESPF, we have developed an online course that covers all ten performance standards through illustrative stories from our region.
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. Click here to register now!
Other opportunities to learn more about how to put the ESPF into practice are forthcoming. Stay tuned for more information about offerings related to the various performance standards.
This blog post is part of a series about the IDB‘s new Environmental and Social Policy Framework (ESPF). You may also want to read: