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MIGA to Engage Stakeholders in Review of New Safeguard and Disclosure Policies

March 26, 2007—As a member of the World Bank Group, MIGA is committed to promoting economic growth in developing countries through socially and environmentally friendly foreign direct investment that supports sustainable development. Fulfilling this mandate requires a constant assessment of the agency’s policies and standards. To this end, on February 21, 2007, MIGA will officially launch a public review of its proposed new Disclosure Policy and its Policy and Performance Standards on Social and Environmental Sustainability.

Key to this review will be a 60-day online consultation period hosted on MIGA’s website. “Engaging external stakeholders on these critical policy revisions is a key part of the process,” said Frank Lysy, Director of MIGA’s Economics and Policy Group. “We want to hear from clients, investors and lenders, NGOs, academics—all interested stakeholders.”

Transparency a Cornerstone of MIGA’s Development Activities

The proposed new Policy on Social and Environmental Sustainability will clearly define MIGA’s role and responsibility in the projects it supports. And clients’ roles and responsibilities for managing their projects, and the requirements for receiving and retaining MIGA’s support, will be clearly defined.

As an integral part of the world’s foremost development institution, MIGA—the private sector insurance arm of the World Bank Group—takes its commitment to protecting the interests of local communities and their environment very seriously. All MIGA-supported projects have to comply with the agency’s strict environmental and social standards, reflecting international best practice.

But it’s not about compliance only. MIGA understands how important it is to keep stakeholders well informed to increase the effectiveness of development projects. That is why the agency is taking new steps to clarify and expand its obligations to disclose information about itself and its activities through an updated Disclosure Policy. “The proposed policy will enhance MIGA’s transparency and accountability,” explained Moina Varkie, Director for External Outreach and Partnerships.

As part of the new disclosure policy, the agency is proposing to disclose project summaries before approaching its Board for project consideration. “We want to give interested parties the opportunity to comment on projects before we sign a contract, because we believe their inputs can help mitigate risks for affected communities and improve development outcomes,” said Varkie. “The approach will be similar to what the IFC has done for some time.”

Proposed Policies to Harmonize with the IFC

MIGA’s proposed new policies are largely the same as the International Finance Corporation’s Policy and Performance Standards on Social and Environmental Sustainability and its Policy on Disclosure of Information—a set of standards to which the IFC and its clients are held accountable. These standards—covering issues like environmental assessment and natural habitats, impacts on indigenous peoples, and involuntary resettlement—were arrived at after nearly four years of effort and extensive stakeholder consultation.

The Equator Banks have since adopted the IFC’s standards for any project they help to finance above $10 million. The standards are also being considered for private project finance under the “Common Approach” recommendations of the OECD Working Party on Export Credits and Credit Guarantees covering official export credit agencies.

“Clearly, the market recognizes IFC’s standards as best practice, and we at MIGA are aiming to achieve harmonization with them to the extent possible. Harmonization is important to our private sector clients,” explains Lysy.

Multiple Platforms for Stakeholder Participation

In addition to the online consultation, MIGA is holding client meetings around the world to discuss proposed changes. Once the 60-day online consultation process and the face-to-face meetings are complete, drafts will be revised in light of comments received. A summary of the findings will be published on MIGA’s website. The review of the proposed new policies is slated to be completed by the end of June 2007, so that the new policies can be introduced for the 2008 fiscal year.

To register comments on the proposed new policies, please click here.

 

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