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IFC Environmental Health and Safety Guidelines Update

To ensure the sustainability of its investment activities, the International Finance Corporation, IFC, has developed a comprehensive social and environmental risk management framework that includes the Safeguards Policies and environmental guidelines. Currently, there are 69 such environmental guidelines, which have become globally applied reference documents for private sector development. Their use and application extends well beyond the World Bank Group operations to a diverse external community, including other international financial institutions, regulator, academics, and commercial banks, as well as the international banks that have recently adopted the Equator Principles. The Guidelines were intended to be continuously updated ‘living documents’. However, most of them had not been updated since 1988.

As part of a review and update process, the IFC has decided to combine all cross-cutting topics in the environmental and occupational health and safety into a single document that will serve as reference to all industry sectors. This document will be titled “General Environmental, Health and Safety Guidelines”. The purpose of this review and update was to:

  1. Ensure that the Guidelines continue to serve as reference documents for internationally acceptable standards on pollution prevention and control as well as on occupational and community health and safety
  2. Ensure that the Guidelines provide information on pollution prevention that is based on good practice ands that can be maintained in the long term, using the skills and resources normally available in the countries where the IFC operates.
  3. Ensure that the Guidelines provide information that is consistent with the objectives of the IFC's Safeguard Policies, including:
  • Avoiding or minimizing impacts on human health and the environment by eliminating or reducing the release of pollutants from project activities;
  • Ensure safe and healthy working conditions by protecting the health of workers, and ;
  • Preventing or minimizing impacts to the health and safety of the local community from project-related activities, equipment, and infrastructure.
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