Implications of the World Bank's environmental and social framework for biodiversity

Jonathan Morley, Graeme Buchanan, Edward T.a. Mitchard, Aidan Keane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The World Bank is the single largest source of development finance, with wide‐reaching influence. The Bank's safeguards aim to minimize the negative impacts of the projects it funds. These policies have recently been updated in a new Environmental and Social Framework. For conservation, the key changes include a mechanism for the use of biodiversity offsets and borrowers’ own frameworks to manage impacts. Concerns have been raised that these changes may weaken protections as there is substantial flexibility about when offsets or borrowers’ frameworks can be used, and uncertainty around the efficacy of offsets. The project‐by‐project nature of these mechanisms and the lack of clear criteria may also hinder future efforts to hold the Bank to account. Concerns about these changes were raised by conservation organizations during the consultation process, but the framework's formulation does not fully reflect recommendations made. Although elements of the new policy have the potential to benefit conservation, the flexibility presents a risk to biodiversity. It is vital for conservation organizations to engage effectively to ensure that any negative impacts arising do not go unchallenged.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12759
JournalConservation Letters
Issue number1
Early online date2 Sept 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2021


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