The World Bank has initiated a two-year review process to overhaul its environmental and social safeguard policies. These policies symbolize core values of the institution and are the cornerstone of the Bank's efforts to protect people and their environment and to ensure sustainable development outcomes.

What are Safeguards?

The World Bank's environmental and social safeguard policies are a cornerstone of its support to sustainable poverty reduction. The objective of these policies is ‘to prevent and mitigate undue harm to people and their environment in the development processes’. These policies provide guidelines for bank and borrower staffs in the identification, preparation, and implementation of programs and projects.

These safeguards assist in including different voices from the community in the Institution's decision making process, to prevent the occurrence of any harm in the developmental process and to seek justice when harm does occur.

The Safeguards Review

The World Bank was the first international organization to adopt safeguard policies, and since then it has been the most influential model, now being adopted by many other developmental banks and governments throughout the world.

These policies till now did not address the issue of disability rights. People with disabilities, often from the poorest parts of the world have been left out of the design and implementation of many World Bank projects.

Now, the World Bank has initiated a review of its Safeguards with the aim of revamping its standards towards ensuring sustainable development. The Bank, in this review process has included certain issues like climate change, human rights, labor issues and many more including disability for the first time. Inclusion of disability in this review process marks the realization on the Bank's part that persons with disabilities often form the most poor and most vulnerable section of the society in a country. With this objective the Bank now is working towards a participatory review process, to formulate a clear and strong policy for incorporating disability related issues in the development process.

At the end of the review, the Bank will thus, develop a framework which will establish responsibility and accountability with respect to vulnerable sections between the Bank and the Borrower country with increased clarity.

This review gives the much needed opportunity to the disability movement to change the existing structure of these safeguards and to strive towards integration of people with disabilities in the process of development!


In 2012-13, during the first phase of the review process, various consultations were held across the globe. A range of CSOs and stakeholders from various countries participated in the review process, bringing in their own issues and priorities to the forefront. Many DPI members have actively participated in these in-country consultations. To read their feedback, please click here

First Draft of Environmental and Social Framework

The World Bank Board on July 30, 2014 approved the first draft of the safeguard policies to be consulted on. To read the draft, please click here PDF file that opens in a new windowExternal Website that opens in a new window

Civil Society reaction to the first draft of the framework

After the report was made public, many reactions on different issues have poured in. The Bank Information Centre (BIC) has put together the concerns of the civil society in a statement, issue wise which is currently open for endorsement and signatures and will be eventually sent to the World Bank. A specific paragraph on disability in the statement is as follows:

"Leaves out persons with disabilities as a distinct group often differently impacted by projects - While the draft does include persons with disabilities for the first time, it does not guarantee that the unique and differentiated impacts of World Bank projects on persons with disabilities will be assessed. Therefore, it does not provide adequate opportunity for persons with disabilities to proportionately share in project benefits and leaves open the possibility that persons with disabilities could be harmed by World Bank projects. Ultimately, persons with disabilities have unique needs that must be addressed throughout the draft."


The World Bank is currently in the process of holding the second phase of in-country consultations to gather feedback on the draft from various stakeholders. All information on the consultations is available at Website that opens in a new window

Many of DPI members have already participated in the second round of consultations and their feedback can be read here.

If there is a consultation scheduled in your country and you would like to participate, please write to the Safeguards Review team at with a copy to us at secretariat[dot]dpi(at)gmail[dot]com.

The World Bank organized an Expert Meeting on the Management of Social Risk on March 19, 2015 in Washington DC. The meeting included representatives of US based organizations and international organizations working on issues of vulnerable groups. DPI was represented at this meeting by its Arab Regional Office Executive Director, Mr. Mohammed Loutfy who is also the co-founder of the World Bank Safeguards and Disability Campaign.

Please click to read the report of the meeting (488 KB) Word File

Please click on the following documents to know more about the process:

We encourage you to visit this page regularly for more updates on the Safeguards Review process. To know more, please write to us at secretariat.dpi(at)gmail[dot]com