A coalition of concerned parties (consisting of EarthRights International, Bank Information Center, Bretton Woods Project, BanglaPraxis, Campagne per la Riforma Della Banca Mundiale, Center for International Environmental Law, and Peregrine Environmental Consulting) wrote to the International Finance Corporation with concerns regarding proposed updates to the IFC’s Environmental, Health and Safety Guidelines.

In a letter to the International Finance Corporation’s Director for the Environmental and Social Sustainability Department, EarthRights International, in coalition with other international finance institution watchdogs, submitted comments and concerns over the IFC’s ongoing review and update of its Environmental, Health and Safety Guidelines and of the World Bank’s Pollution Prevention and Abatement Handbook. The IFC is currently reviewing and updating the Environmental, Health, and Safety (EHS) Guidelines. As part of this process, the total body of EHS Guidelines included in Part III of the World Bank’s Pollution Prevention and Abatement Handbook.

(PPAH) is being updated. The result of the process will be a new set of World Bank Group Environmental, Health, and Safety Guidelines.

The main concerns addressed in the letter focus on coherence and consistency of the EHS Guidelines with IFC Performance Standards and WB Operational Policies, as well as the overall purpose of the guidelines and whether they are meant to be auditable standards or merely permissive recommendations.  Finally, a primary concern is that these guidelines seem to intend to rise to the level of global practices and standards as opposed to standards specifically applicable to WB funded projects.  Such an intention seems to circumvent the international diplomatic processes for standard setting, as well as the mandates of various international organizations more suited to the standard-setting task.

October 23, 2006 Letter to Ms. Rachel Kyte, Director, IFC’s Environmental and Social Sustainability Department