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Community Controlled Impact Assessment and Impact and Benefit Agreements: Relevance for upward harmonization of World Bank Group Safeguard Policies
Dr. Ciaran O’Faircheallaigh, Professor of Politics and Public Policy in the School of Government and International Relations, Griffith University, Australia met with the World Bank during the week of November 18 to advocate for the inclusion of impact benefit agreements (IBAs) and community controlled ESIA (CCIA) as requirements in the World Bank’s proposed integrated safeguard framework (see BIC concept note on CCIA/IBA for more information on these concepts). BIC recommended that IBAs and CCIAs become safeguard requirements in the April 2013 model policy proposal to the World Bank on Environmental Assessment and Management (ESAM). The objective of the Washington DC visit of Dr. O’Faircheallaigh is targeted meetings to explain the benefits of IBA and CCIA and advocate for their inclusion in the Bank’s proposed Integrated Safeguard Framework. The specific objectives of these meetings are 1) explain what IBA and CCIA are; 2) discuss where and how these environment and social risk assessment and management tools have worked and why; 3) advocate how IBA and CCIA would work within a World Bank safeguard policy framework. Meetings were held with the World Bank Executive Directors, senior staff on the Safeguard Team, IFC staff and management, U.S. Government, and DC based civil society organizations.
In a public presentation co-hosted by Oxfam International and in a briefing paper prepared for BIC, O’Faircheallaigh explained the origins and evolution of CCIA and IBA as two mechanisms increasingly used by Indigenous communities and organizations in Australia, Canada and other jurisdictions to enhance the benefits and manage the impacts from large-scale industrial development, particularly in the resources sector. The discussion focused on how these mechanisms might be applied to enhance the effectiveness of World Bank policies that affect Indigenous peoples, but are applicable to all project affected peoples, particularly OP 4.01 – Environment Assessment and OP 4.10 – Indigenous Peoples safeguard policies.
Meg Taylor, the IFC Vice President and Compliance Advisor and Ombudsman, and Emily Greenspan, Senior Policy Advisor for Oxfam America’s Extractive Industries team, both pointed out the ways in which CCIA and IBA resonated with observations about weaknesses of traditional ESIA and tools that are emerging in their respective work. Greenspan highlighted several similar tools that Oxfam has supported, including community engagement protocols, participatory mapping, human rights impact assessments and FPIC policies, to advance the safeguarding of community rights.
O’Faircheallaigh’s presentation to the World Bank on CCIA and IBA underscored the limitations of conventional methods for assessing environmental and social impacts, and how these mechanisms are emerging as good practice alternatives to overcoming those limitations. The meetings offered an opportunity to identify and answer a variety of questions about CCIA and IBA (See summary sheet of these questions and answers). The presentation observed key differences between current impact assessment practice under the World Bank safeguards and the higher standard evidenced in the use of CCIA and IBA indicate areas in each stage of the project cycle where the Bank could substantially enhance the effectiveness of its Safeguards to deliver improved outcomes for all parties. Some of the main messages on CCIA and IBA are summarized below:
- CCIA/IBA are emerging standards for ESAM, which are applicable beyond specific sectors and groups, and toward which the Bank should harmonize its own safeguards upward. In 2012 alone, over 100 IBAs have been negotiated in Australia. In Canada, there have been no new developments in the past 10 years without an IBA. IBAs are occurring in agriculture, transport and other sectors involving the public sector agencies and non-indigenous communities.
- CCIA and IBA are about shifting control over ESAM to the community, about mobilizing local knowledge and supporting community right to decide over the full life of the project. A fundamental principle is that the community of affected people drive the impact assessment processes, its findings and recommendations, rather than just be ‘consulted’ or ‘participate’.
- CCIA and IBA emerged as a community response to the failure of conventional ESIA, through political mobilization and pressure on government and private sector authority.
- CCIA and IBA are not only about preventing and more effectively mitigating potential harm, but also about managing the risk of delivering a fair distribution of development promised benefits. These mechanisms provide much greater leverage for the “doing good” function of the Safeguards, rooted in part by the commitment to deliver “culturally appropriate benefits” in OP 4.10.
- CCIA and IBA strengthen project monitoring and implementation. By including automatic adjustment mechanisms to implementation failure and extending the time horizon for project monitoring to the full life of the project (rather than uneven supervision practices lasting only through final disbursement), CCIA and IBA address implementation weakness in the Bank’s safeguard regime. CCIA and IBA innovations in adaptive management of risk help reduce conflict, avoid delays, improve response to grievances and improve outcomes.
- CCIA and IBA are premised on 3rd party or community monitoring of implementation. CCIA and IBA ensure that effective community involvement begins early in the assessment design and extends to independent monitoring to establish whether risks are managed and expected impacts and opportunities actually materialize.
- CCIA and IBA are critical to realizing FPIC, broad community support, improved implementation support, and shared prosperity outcomes, among other corporate commitments of the World Bank Group. The existence of CCIA/IBA should be part of what communities are “informed” about to assess whether consent is to be provided. At the same time, these mechanisms provide no silver bullet to prescribing what are inevitably context specific definitions of consent or the nature of adequate benefit under varying conditions of governance.
Most reactions by Bank staff and Board advisors to O’Faircheallaigh’s experience with IBA and CCIA were interested and generally positive. Interest in IBA was clearly heightened by the focus on benefit distribution (doing good) in addition to potentially better adaptive management techniques to prevent harm. The discussion explored how CCIA/IBA addressed important ESAM gaps in each stage of the project cycle (upstream, preparation and implementation). Conversation tended to focus on the technical aspects of assessment stages of CCIA, with interest in how widely applicable the process was to non-IPs, and sectors beyond mining or large infrastructure. There was noticeably greater reservation regarding political aspects of negotiation implied by IBA, particularly in areas where provisions in IBAs addressed widely acknowledged safeguard or benefits-sharing implementation problems.
The Bank was most interested in the variation of cost, duration, the clarity of collective land rights, the types of incentives used, and the role of national requirements behind IBAs. The possible entry points CCIA and IBA identified in the current Safeguard policies are the list of EA tools in OP 4.01, the provision for “social and economic benefits that are culturally appropriate and gender and intergenerationally inclusive” (OP 4.10:1), and the criteria for implementing FPIC for IFC (free, prior and informed consultation and broad community support for the Bank), particularly the full meaning of what is implied by “informed”. The Bank did not indicate existence of IBAs in the current portfolio, but acknowledged efforts to explore these mechanisms in the past, at least in the hydropower sector. However, both in relation to the Indigenous Peoples ongoing consultation related to the Safeguard Review and in regard to energy and extractives projects – the Bank expressed interest in including CCIA/IBA examples in upcoming knowledge exchanges.