The Inspection Panel was created by the World Bank’s Board of Executive
Directors in 1993, shortly after the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio where 180
countries had affirmed the importance of sustainable development and the
role of strengthening citizen engagement and participation in development. The Inspection Panel is mandated to receive and investigate complaints sub mitted by people experiencing harm allegedly caused by Bank projects. As of September 2017, the Panel had received 120 Requests for Inspection. Of those, 90 had been registered and 34 investigated. This report focuses on the interconnected issues of consultation, participation and disclosure of information—issues that have arisen in 30 Panel investigations and 106 Requests for Inspection (about 90 percent of both), reflecting their centrality to Inspection Panel cases. This report is the fourth in a series of Panel publi cations drawing on the main lessons that have emerged from its caseload since the first Request for Inspection was received in 1994. The first report, published in April 2016, focused on cases related to involuntary resettlement, the second (October 2016) analyzed indigenous peoples’ issues, and the third (April 2017) was dedicated to cases involving environmental assessment. It is important to note that Panel cases tend to highlight challenging proj ects that caused harm and therefore are not reflective of the Bank’s entire portfolio. Nonetheless, these lessons are significant in their ability to provide opportunities for institutional learning and growth. As this report will discuss, consultation, participation and information dis closure serve as tools to achieve objectives under separate World Bank policies.1 The Panel’s cases show that meaningful consultation processes are a key factor in successful development projects. The Panel’s experience demonstrates that consultations will likely be meaningful when they are conducted with the right stakeholders, in a timely fashion, in an appropriate language and cultur ally appropriate manner, and at an accessible location. Consultations need to be based on adequate, relevant and accurate information provided to appro priate stakeholders in an understandable form prior to consultations. It is also important to give special attention to project-affected persons (PAPs) as well
as disadvantaged or vulnerable groups, and to properly manage expectations.
The Bank’s operational policies (OPs) that apply to the projects described in
this report contain different consultation requirements and prescribe differ ent levels of engagement. Three of these policies directly address consultation,
participation and information disclosure: OP 4.01 on Environmental
Assessment; OP 4.10 on Indigenous Peoples; and OP 4.12 on Involuntary
Resettlement. Several other policies—such as OP 4.11 on Physical Cultural
Resources, OP 4.36 on Forests, OP 4.04 on Natural Habitats and OP 4.00 on
Piloting the Use of Borrower Systems—refer to the need for consultations. OP 8.60 on Development Policy Financing and OP 9.00 on Program for Results Financing also include consultation requirements. The Bank’s Policy on Access to Information refers to the need for transparency and knowledge sharing, and recognizes that engagement with a broad range of stakeholders enhances the quality of operations. The Strategic Framework for Engaging Citizen Feedback in Bank Operations seeks to include beneficiary feedback in Bank operations to empower citizens to participate in the development pro cess as a key to achieving better results. On August 4, 2016, the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved a new Environmental and Social Framework (ESF), which includes the Environmental and Social Standard (ESS) 10 on Stakeholder Engagement and Information Disclosure. ESS 10 requires that information be disclosed in a timely manner, in an accessible place, and in a form and language under standable to project-affected and other interested parties. It also requires that the borrower engage with stakeholders through meaningful consultation in a manner proportionate to the risks to and impacts on affected communities. Several other standards, such as ESS 7 on Indigenous Peoples/Sub-Saharan African Historically Underserved Traditional Local Communities, include consultation requirements. According to ESS 7, the borrower must undertake a process of meaningful consultation tailored to Indigenous Peoples and needs to obtain Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC)2 of the affected indigenous peoples when certain specific circumstances are present. ESS 5 on Land Acquisition, Restrictions on Land Use and Involuntary Resettlement includes specific requirements for community engagement in resettlement processes. Since the ESF will not take effect until 2018, the lessons included in this report are based on cases to which the existing policies applied. Still, the lessons identified from these policies should be useful for implementing future projects under the new framework.