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First Blog Judith Flores Professional Development

Date:22 May 2017
Author:Judith Flores
San Andres Island - Colombia
San Andres Island - Colombia

First stop: the standards on paper

To better understand the international policy instruments, a detailed reading of the offcial documents was required. My review of the Environmental and Social Framework (WB, 2017), IADB Safeguards (IADB 2006, 2009, 2010), the Performance Standards on Environmental and Social Sustainability (IFC, 2012) and the SA8000 (International Standard, 2014) revealed important similarities in the social dimension of those policies.

Thus, requirements such as Social Risk Analysis, Social Impact Assessment, Stakeholders' Participation, Core Labour Rights, Land Acquisition, Involuntay Resettlement, Indigenous People's Rights and Gender Equality are present in all the standards. The first step on the route has shown that all these policy instruments define the requeriments in great detail. 

As part of the discovery process during this stop, I also reviewed the relevant literature on the standards. Various scholars highlight the voluntary nature of the requeriments and their openness to interpretation as shared characteristics of the standards. These are also a major source of criticism, since events such as project abandonment, change of corporate ownership or shifting economic conditions often result in non-compliance and reduced enforcement. According to these scholars, the consequences of this are reflected in long-lasting social and cultural impacts on the local communities (O'Faircheallaigh,2014).

Specific critiques of the requirements include:

- Weakness in the Social Impact Assessment (SIA): the quality of information in the baseline, the quality of the analysis and the adequacy of public participation (Estevez et al., 2012)

- Limitations of SIA for Indigenous Populations: thes same deficiencies are also presented in the social impact assessment process with indegenous populations (O'Faircheallaigh, 2014; Hannah et al., 2014).

- Limited outcomes in the resettlement process: caused by gaps in knowledge, resourcing and capacity, and inadequate coordination in the implementation of the requeriments. It seems that the industry often fails to fully understand the intangible aspects of resettlement such as social networks, local market and livelihood systems, common pool resources, conflict sensitivities and cultural and spiritual aspects (Kemp et al., 2017). Thus, the preservation and restoration of social systems continues to be of concern of resettled groups (Cochrane, 2017). 

- Poor quality control: limited regulator capacity and lack of resources (Estevez et al., 2012)

This journal and document review served as the basis for my analytical framework, which will inform my work at subsequent stops: participation in a SA8000 course, interviews with experts and writing the final report.

See you at the second stop of this journey: the standards in practice!


Bressers & Kuks (2003). What does governance mean?. [Online]. Available at:  [Accessed on April 3th, 2017]

Esteves A.M, Franks, D. & Vanclay, F. (2012). Social impact assessment: the state of the art, Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal, 30:1, 34-42, DOI:10.1080/14615517.2012.660356

Hanna, P., Vanclay, F., Langdon, E., Arts, J. (2014). Improving the effectiveness of impact assessment pertaining to Indigenous peoples in the Brazilian environmental licensing procedure. Environmental Impact Assessment Review 46 (2014) 58–67

Hughes, J.D. (2005) Global Environmental History: The Longs View. Globalization. 2(2) 293-308. [Online]. Available at: [Accessed on April 3th, 2017]

Inter-America Development Bank (1998). Involuntary Resettlement Policy.  [Online]. Available at:,6660.html [Accessed on May 3th, 2017]

Inter-America Development Bank (1999). Involuntary Resettlement Principles and Guidelines. [Online]. Available at: [Accessed on May 3th, 2017]

Inter-America Development Bank (2006). Environment and Safeguards Compliance Policy. Washington D.C. [Online]. Available at: [Accessed on May 4th, 2017]

Inter-America Development Bank (2006b). Policy on Indigenous Peoples.  [Online]. Available at: [Accessed on May 3th, 2017]

Inter-America Development Bank (2010). Policy on Gender Equality in Development.  [Online]. Available at:  [Accessed on May 3th, 2017]

Inter-America Development Bank (2010b). Access to Information Policy. [Online]. Available at:  [Accessed on May 3th, 2017]

International Finance Corporation (2012). Performance Standards on Environmental and Social Sustainability [Online]. Available at: [Accessed on May 3th, 2017]

Jänicke, M., Jörgens, H. (2006) New Approaches to Environmental Governance. In: Jacob, K. M. Jänicke (eds.) Environmental Governance in Global Perspective: New Approaches to Ecological and Political Modernisation, Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin. [Online]. Available at: [Accessed on April 3th, 2017]

Jordan, A., R.K.W. Wurzel and A.R. Zito (2005) The rise of ‘new’ policy instruments in comparative perspective: has governance eclipsed government? Political Studies, 53 (3), 477-496. [Online]. Available at: [Accessed on April 3th, 2017]

O’Faircheallaigh, C. (2014). Social Equity and Large Mining Projects: Voluntary Industry Initiatives, Public Regulation and Community Development Agreements. DOI 10.1007/s10551-014-2308-3

Social Accountability International (2014). Social Accountability 8000 International Standard. New York.

World Bank (2017). Environmental and Social Framework. Washington DC, 2017.  [Online]. Available at: [Accessed on May 5th, 2017]

Zuidema, C. (2016) Decentralization in environmental governance: a post-contingency approach (New directions in planning theory). London: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2016.