World Bank ESS6

World Bank Environmental and Social Standard 6 (ESS6) is analogous to IFC PS6 and has similar objectives – primarily to protect and conserve biodiversity and habitats, encourage the implementation of the mitigation hierarchy and promote sustainable management of living natural resources.

A revimineew of the World Bank Environmental and Social Framework (ESF) began in 2012, marking the start of the Bank’s most extensive consultation ever. Ten ESSs have been reviewed, including ESS6 on Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Management of Living Natural Resources.

ESS6 (and PS6) represents best practice for implementing protection for people and environment. Under the new ESS6, Bank funds cannot be used to finance projects that would involve significant conversion or degradation of Critical Habitat.

The basic targets are clear and simple, in common with IFC PS6: a net gain for Critical Habitat and no net loss for Natural Habitat (net gain, where feasible). Defining Critical Habitat and demonstrating net gain with the appropriate level of confidence can be challenging, but the key steps are the same as those for PS6:

  • Critical Habitat Assessment (ESS6 Paragraph 23): assessing the biodiversity importance of an area (e.g. threatened and restricted-range species and ecosystems, protected areas) in comparison to their global distributions or population sizes
  • Mitigation Design (ESS6 Paragraphs 24 & 25): described in a Biodiversity Management Plan, for impacts on Critical Habitat and Natural Habitat
  • Offset Design (ESS6 Paragraphs 15-18): design of compensatory offsets for significant residual adverse impacts “after all technically and financially feasible avoidance, minimisation, and restoration measures have been considered”
  • Protected Area assessment (ESS6 Paragraph 26): meeting the requirements for Critical Habitat and Natural Habitat, where appropriate
  • Monitoring and Evaluation Design (ESS Paragraph 24 & 25): a long-term programme sufficient to assess the status of Critical Habitat and demonstrate biodiversity gains.

Alignment with ESS6 is best initiated at the very start of project planning, and integrated with the development of an environmental impact assessment. The revised standards are due to be fully implemented by 2018, and will run in parallel with the current safeguards for about seven years to govern projects approved before the launch of the new ESF.

Useful links

Draft World Bank Environmental and Social Framework Setting Environmental and Social Standards for Investment Project Financing policy document.

A Cross-Sector Guide for Implementing the Mitigation Hierarchy, written by TBC, provides practical guidance, innovative approaches and examples to support operationalizing the mitigation hierarchy effectively.

IFC Performance Standard 6 – our overview of the performance standard and what it means for development projects.