What Are the World Bank Safeguards?

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The safeguards are rules that the World Bank must follow when it creates and carries out its projects. For example, to receive a loan to build a dam, a borrowing country may have to conduct an environmental impact assessment. The assessment is a report that explains all of the risks to the local community and the natural environment.

The environmental assessment policy was the World Bank’s first safeguard. It helps the World Bank identify risks before a project is carried out so it can avoid harming people or the environment. Over the years, the World Bank has adopted more safeguards that help to avoid many different kinds of harms, including policies on indigenous peoples and natural habitats.

Current World Bank Safeguards
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#1: The safeguards protect people
When the World Bank carries out a project like a large dam that forces many people to leave their homes, the safeguards exist to make sure that those people are able to find good jobs and access basic services near their new homes.
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#2: The safeguards guide the World Bank
These rules help to guide the World Bank so that it invests in projects that help people instead of harm them, and avoid damage to the environment.
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#3: The safeguards provide access to justice
If you believe you have been harmed by a World Bank project, you can go to an independent part of the World Bank called the Inspection Panel which looks at each complaint to determine whether the World Bank is breaking its own rules.

#4: The safeguards are a model for other development banks
Many people consider the World Bank important for setting international standards for other banks to follow. After the World Bank started creating safeguards, other development banks made similar rules.