Africa Industry

World Bank and Uganda train officials on new environmental and social standards for investment projects  

A series of workshops to support the implementation of the new World Bank Environmental and Social Framework (ESF) have kicked off in Kampala.

Secretary to the Treasury, and Permanent Secretary Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development Keith Muhakanizi, opened the first half-day workshop for high-level government representatives that was attended by more than 30 permanent secretaries and commissioners.

The workshops aim to provide a comprehensive understanding of the new environmental and social requirements the World Bank will be applying to the investment projects it finances starting October 2018.

“You need to plan well and address these issues upfront. If you don’t, you will likely not get resources from development partners. These standards don’t apply only to the World Bank, but also the African Development Bank, and other partners,” Muhakanizi said.

The workshops consist of: a half-day presentation to high-level Government officials; a two-day technical training for project implementation staff; and a half day awareness session with other stakeholders, including civil society and development partners.

“Time and again, we have seen that investment projects are more sustainable and have a greater development impact when the environment is protected, and when communities and people are engaged.

“The ESF is a great opportunity to work together with the Government of Uganda to strengthen its environmental and social systems and help build the country’s capacity to implement programs in a sustainable way and to achieve stronger results,” said Tony Thompson, World Bank Country Manager for Uganda, adding that the ESF allows for use of country systems, and to adapt to circumstances as they change.

The Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, which holds the mandate on social safeguards, welcomed the training on the ESF and committed to coordinate government agencies to ensure that new projects meet the standards of the ESF.

“As Government, the ESF is timely. There has been a lot of emphasis on environmental concerns in projects but we are glad to see that this has now been broadened to include social safeguards.

World Bank and Uganda train officials on new environmental and social standards for investment projects
World Bank and Uganda train officials on new environmental and social standards for investment projects

“We are ready and willing to lead this crusade and am hopeful that Uganda will be a model for other countries,” said Pius Bigirimana, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development.

The ESF is the result of the most extensive consultations ever conducted by the World Bank, with nearly four years of analysis and engagement around the world with governments, development experts, and civil society groups, reaching nearly 8,000 stakeholders in 63 countries.

The new framework provides a broad coverage of environmental and social issues, including important advances in transparency, non-discrimination, social inclusion, public participation and accountability. The ESF also places more emphasis on building Borrower governments’ own capacity to deal with environmental and social issues.

The World Bank’s environmental and social policies aim to ensure that the people and the environment are protected from the potential adverse impacts of the projects it finances — such as building a road, connecting people to electricity, or treating wastewater.

The policies help identify, avoid, and minimize harm to people and the environment. They require the borrowing governments to address certain environmental and social risks in order to receive World Bank support for investment projects.

The ESF is expected to go into effect October 2018, and will progressively replace the World Bank’s current Safeguards policies.