AfDB launches revised version of its Environmental and Social Assessment Procedures for 2015

17/11/2015
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The African Development Bank’s existing Environmental and Social Assessment Procedures (approved in 2001) have been revised to reflect the updated information, upgraded processes and cutting-edge knowledge embodied in the Integrated Safeguards System (ISS). It also addresses the limitations of the existing ESAP and provides a strong procedural basis for the operationalization of the Integrated Safeguards Systems. It details the specific procedures that the Bank and its borrowers or clients should follow to ensure that Bank operations meet the requirements of the operational safeguards (OSs) at each stage of the Bank’s project cycle.

Its adoption and implementation enhance the environmental and social performance of the Bank’s operations and improve project outcomes. The ESAP will help to improve decision-making and project results by ensuring that Bank-financed operations conform to the requirements laid out in the operational safeguards (OS) and are thus sustainable. Effective implementation of the ESAP will help to avoid incurring costs and implementation delays as a result of unanticipated problems. It will also reduce the need for project conditionality as remedial measures can be taken in advance and incorporated into project design or project alternatives can be considered.

The ESAP describes how the Bank and its borrowers should work together to ensure that environmental, climate change and social considerations are integrated into the project cycle from country programming to post completion. It represents a coordination mechanism between the Bank, relevant government agencies and private sector entities and plays an important role in building the environmental, social and climate change management capacity of the project’s executing agency.

The Environmental and Social Assessment procedures apply during the entire project cycle, with differentiated tasks to be performed, roles and responsibilities for the Bank and its borrowers and clients:

  • During country programming, the key task is to develop and update baseline data on RMCs’ environmental and social components, policies, programs and capacities to better integrate environmental and social dimensions into lending priorities
  • At the project identification phase, the screening exercise focuses on the environmental and social dimensions of a project to categorize it in one out of four categories based on the potential adverse environmental and social impacts of the project.
  • During project preparation, the scoping exercise helps to define the scope of the Environmental and Social Assessments (ESA) to be completed by the Borrower based on the project category, with the assistance of staff from the operational departments. The preparation of these assessments requires consultations with primary and secondary stakeholders. Once ESAs are finalised, the review process allows operational departments to ensure that Bank’s vision, policies and guidelines were adequately taken into account in project design and implementation.
  • During the appraisal phase, ESIA Summaries shall be reviewed and cleared by the Safeguards and Compliance Division. Finally, the procedures require the public disclosure of summaries in accordance with specified deadlines. For Category 1 projects, these shall be disclosed for 120 days for public sector projects and at least for 60 days for private sector operations. All category 2 operations shall be disclosed for 30 days before Board deliberations.
  • At the project implementation phase, the Borrowers shall ensure the implementation of Environmental and Social management Plans developed to address adverse impacts, while monitoring the project impacts and results. Operational staff shall supervise the Borrowers’ work and verify compliance through supervision missions and/or environmental and social audits, whenever necessary. Audits undertaken during the completion phase and post-evaluations shall also aim to assess the environmental and social sustainability of the results.

Throughout the project cycle, the joint participation of environmental and social expertise in project screening, scoping, field missions and audits is invaluable. Their involvement is considered particularly important for Category 1 and 4 projects:

  • The Borrowers are responsible for integrating environmental and social considerations into sponsored projects;
  • The Bank’s Operations Complexes assist the Borrowers in meeting Bank’s requirements;
  • The Compliance and Safeguards Division verifies compliance to the procedures, essentially at the entry and approval points, and provides peer-level advice and support for missions, audits and document review upon request.

The ESAP contains 25 annexes that detail the procedures and formats required to implement Environmental and Social Assessments and covenants throughout the project cycle.