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New Accountability Dialogue Series

​The Inspection Panel has just launched a new “Accountability Dialogue Series” to promote discussion around issues of accountability and compliance. In the more than 20 years since its creation, the Panel’s work has resulted in redress to many people as well as highlighting many lessons for the Bank. Although the main tool of the Inspection Panel is compliance review, the understanding of the broad context of development is critical to enhance the value and impact of its work.

The first session of this knowledge series was held on May 28 in Washington and titled “Leveraging Science to Promote Environmentally Sustainable Infrastructure”. Its focus was on how to use science to mitigate the potentially negative environmental and social impacts of large infrastructure projects. The session was chaired byGonzalo Castro de la Mata (Panel Chairman) and featuredFrancisco Dallmeier (Director of the Center for Conservation and Sustainability of theSmithsonian Conservation Biology Institute). Francisco shared examples of Smithsonian scientists applying ground-breaking approaches to minimize the ecological footprint of several large energy projects in Peru. The techniques highlighted included creating canopy “bridges” to allow nocturnal animals to cross over pipelines (see photo), adopting smart road designs and green tools to reduce the risks of deforestation, and taking a full inventory of local plant and animal species before construction begins in order to properly guide restoration efforts.

This presentation was followed by comments from two discussants: Janet Ranganathan (Vice President for Science and Research at theWorld Resources Institute), andRobert Montgomery, a Lead Environmental Specialist at the World Bank. They made several important points such as the need to incorporate ‘ecosystem services’ principles upstream in project design so environmental and social mitigation measures can be an integral part of project implementation. They also noted that the Bank should encourage clients to consider alternative designs, technologies, and economies of scale when funding mega infrastructure projects in order toensure that they are pro-poor and cost effective.

Going forward, the accountability series will continue to explore issues that can help both the Panel and the development community identify and discuss the challenges and opportunities of development, with a focus on accountability. These may include issues close to the Panel’s compliance work such as strengthening local redress mechanisms, protecting indigenous rights, and carrying out equitable resettlement. Seephotos.