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How the World Bank Group Gauges "Broad Community Support"

On October 9th, the World Resources Institute's International Financial Flows and Environment (IFFE) team co-sponsored a panel discussion with Oxfam America and Center for International Environmental Law on How the World Bank Group Gauges 'Broad Community Support' for Projects. The discussion came during the Civil Society Policy Forum of the 2008 Fall Annual Meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington, D.C. Read the summary report.

The World Bank and International Financial Corporation (IFC) require clients to obtain "broad community support" before beginning high impact projects. WRI believes that the broad community support standard is increasingly relevant, given the significant growth of World Bank investments in sectors---especially in extractive industries---that can have significant impacts on local communities. In 2004, IFC's Extractive Industries Review recommended that "broad community support" be included in the Bank's suite of standards. Since then, it has been incorporated into the WBG’s Operational Policy on Indigenous People’s, as well as IFC’s policy on Social and Environmental Sustainability. As of August 2008, IFC has applied free, prior and informed consultation and broad community support to 18 projects.

However, increased instances of conflict around natural resources, and/or fundamental weaknesses in sector governance in areas where extractive projects are underway or envisioned highlight need for closer examination of the BCS standard and its application.

The panel examined and discussed practical experiences and challenges of implementing the broad community support standard in a selection of World Bank Group projects. Based on experiences to date, the session participants identified several key challenges and concerns related to BCS standard implementation.

This conference report provides a summary of the panel presentation, the challenges and concerns identified by the panel participants, and proposes next steps to continue this important discussion.

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