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T​hird Report in Panel’s Emerging Lessons Series Covers Environmental Assessment

The Inspection Panel on April 18 released the third report in its Emerging Lessons Series.The report, which identifies lessons from Panel cases related to environmental assessment (EA) issues, was released at a side event to the International Monetary Fund-World Bank Group Springs Meetings.

Panel MemberZeinab Elbakripresented the main findings of the report at the event, which was moderated by World Bank Executive Director Otaviano Canuto, chairman of the Bank’s Committee on Development Effectiveness. Also taking part in the event were Julia Bucknall, director for environment and natural resources at the World Bank; Medha Patkar, an Indian social activist and founder of Narmada Bachao Andolan and the National Alliance of People’s Movements; and Richard Fuggle, an emeritus professor of environmental studies at the University of Cape Town who has served as an expert consultant on Inspection Panel investigations.

The Panel’s Emerging Lessons Series is meant to build institutional knowledge at the World Bank, enhance accountability and contribute to more effective development. The first two reports, on lessons from cases involvinginvoluntary resettlementandindigenous peoples, were released in 2016. The last report in the series – on cases related to consultation, participation and disclosure of information – will be released in the fall of 2017.

Of the 34 cases the Panel has investigated, 29 of them have involved environmental assessment issues. The Panel’s EA report identifies seven lessons that can be learned from those cases, and reaches five major conclusions:

The process of environmental assessment is important throughout the project cycle.

Strong on-site supervision involving multidisciplinary expertise is crucial when problems are identified.

Considering the social dimensions of a project is critical.

It is not only projects identified as high-risk that have the potential to cause significant harm.

Panel cases have positively influenced World Bank practices related to environmental assessment.

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