International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, is launching the public consultation phase for the update of its environmental and social safeguard policies and a review of its policy on disclosure of information.

The environmental and social safeguard policy is to be recast as a policy on social and environmental sustainability, including performance standards. The review of IFC’s policy on disclosure of information is based on a concept paper, providing a framework for a new approach to disclosure issues. The draft documents are available for review  and comment online at
“We believe this process will improve IFC’s effectiveness as a development bank supporting private sector investments and help improve the social and environmental performance of the projects we finance,” says Peter Woicke, executive vice-president of the IFC and managing director for private sector development of the World Bank Group.

IFC will be consulting clients and other external stakeholders, including partner organisations, governments, industry associations, the financial sector and civil society, engaging with those participants who have an active interest in social and environmental sustainability and disclosure issues, and knowledge and experience of IFC’s work on the ground.

The primary intent of the consultation is to determine whether the new policies will enable IFC to fulfil its social and environmental objectives and can be implemented by its clients. Regional consultation workshops, stakeholder and thematic meetings and web-based feedback will be the main means for stakeholders to engage in the process.

Over the next four months regional consultations are planned in Buenos Aires for Latin America and the Caribbean, Manila for Asia, Nairobi for Africa, and Istanbul for Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East. Consultation meetings will also be held during the course of  the annual meetings of the World Bank Group.

Commenting on the consultations, Woicke states: “The updating of our safeguards in the form of new performance standards, and the review of our policy on disclosure of information, are important to the success of IFC’s mission. We want to raise the standards of accountability and transparency for IFC and for our clients.”

Rachel Kyte, director of the IFC’s environment and social development department, comments: “This consultation process is critical in ensuring that the new performance standards and IFC’s approach to disclosure will equip the corporation with a clear and comprehensive risk management framework that underpins the corporate commitment to sustainability. We hope that the practical perspectives of clients and stakeholders  will refine the policies and support better partnership in the future.”