National systems for environmental and social impact assessment (ESIA) are designed to improve the environmental and social performance of projects and support countries’ sustainable development strategies. National governments deploy a broad set of strategies, institutions, laws, regulations and proce dures to assess, avoid, mitigate and manage the envi ronmental and social impact of government policies and public or private investment. Within this broader ecosystem, national systems for ESIA help predict and manage social and environmental impacts. The World Bank Environmental and Social Framework (ESF) requires Borrower countries to implement Bank-fi nanced projects in accordance with the Environmental and Social Standards (ESSs), including an assessment of the project’s environmental and social risks and impacts. (See, e.g., World Bank 2017, ESS1, para. 14). In addition, the ESF states that the World Bank sup ports efforts to strengthen, and, as appropriate, utilize
Borrower countries’ environmental and social systems in the context of Bank-financed projects. (World Bank 2017, Policy, paras. 23-29). Similarly, the International Finance Corporation’s Performance Standards envision private sector ESIA processes that align with national ESIA systems. (IFC 2012, PS1, para. 6). The use of ESIA by multilateral development banks like the members of the World Bank Group has catalyzed the expansion of national ESIA systems and nearly every country now utilizes national systems for ESIA. (UNEP 2018, 19). The objectives of this Literature Review are to identify trends, findings and gaps in global literature focused on national systems for ESIA. The Review analyzes global ESIA literature in an effort to inform the World Bank’s response to Borrower country requests for assistance in strengthening national systems for ESIA, provide input to broader World Bank country strategies and identify priority areas for future World Bank engagement. The Review concludes with recommendations for how the
World Bank Group can support Borrower countries, in partnership with civil society, proponents and the public, in efforts to strengthen national systems for ESIA.