The World Bank’s Safeguards Policies constitute the cornerstone of the Bank’s support to sustainable poverty reduction, the Bank’s Environmental Specialist, Mr. Joseph Akpokodje has said. Speaking at a two-day workshop for the Africa Centres of Excellence (ACEs) Safeguard Officers, held at the National Universities Commission, recently, Mr. Akpokodje said that the policies provided the necessary guidelines to identify, prepare and implement projects. These policies, he added, were designed to ensure that environmental and social issues were addressed, through the project cycle of a World Bank-financed project.
The Environment Specialist explained that Environmental Assessment is carried out to ensure that World Bank-financed projects are environmentally sound and sustainable. The process includes project screening for potential impact and early consultation with affected groups. Signals to potential risks must be addressed promptly, through environmental safeguards instruments. He informed participants of the need for adequate disclosure of information, through the publication of all safeguards reports in one national and one local daily, in locations where stakeholders would have easy access to them.
On project categorisation, Mr. Akpokodje told the participants that projects were categorised, based on potential adverse environmental and social impacts, adding that the Bank undertakes environmental screening of each proposed project to determine the extent and type of environmental assessment. According to him, projects are categorised as A, B, C and FI. He also highlighted the Environmental Safeguards Instruments, which include the Environmental and Social Management Framework (ESMF), Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) and the Environmental and Social Management Plan.
The ACE National Project Coordinator, Dr. Joshua Atah, had earlier welcomed participants and resource persons to the workshop, informing them that the training was necessary to ensure that the ACEs complied with the requirements of the Nigerian Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) laws and the World Banks Environmental and Social Safeguard Policies.
At end of the workshop, participants agreed on the need to adhere to the Federal Government and World Bank safeguards policies to ensure that environmental and social issues are addressed and properly documented, among other resolutions.