Beveridge & Diamond

IFC Revising Environmental Health and Safety Guidelines

Updated July 6, 2006
Beveridge & Diamond, P.C., April 12, 2006

The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private-sector lending arm of the World Bank Group, has been updating its Safeguard Policies and its Environmental Health & Safety Guidelines.  The IFC’s Policies and Guidelines have increasingly become international benchmarks for environmental and social sustainability.  For example, more than 40 leading financial institutions have adopted the "Equator Principles," under which participating banks agree to require certain project sponsors to adhere to IFC standards for projects with a total capital cost of $50 million or more.

The IFC recently adopted new Performance Standards on Social & Environmental Sustainability.  The new Performance Standards, which provide broad policy guidance on sustainability, will replace the old Safeguard Policies and apply directly to IFC-financed projects.  (These new standards are available here:  IFC is now turning to the development of new and updated EHS Guidelines.  These will be industry-specific guidelines that will provide the pollution control and management standards that projects receiving IFC (or other financial institution) support will be expected to satisfy in the future

The IFC is now revising all of its EHS guidelines for dozens of industry sectors, including those relating to: (i) agribusiness (e.g., food and beverage processing, farming, biotechnology); (ii) chemicals manufacturing (e.g., pesticides, pharmaceuticals, petroleum refining, coal processing); (iii) forestry (including pulp and paper mills); (iv) general manufacturing (e.g., cement, glass, electronics, semiconductors, textiles and construction materials); (v) infrastructure (e.g., ports, telecommunications, airports and waste management facilities); (vi) mining; (vii) oil and gas (including on-shore and offshore facilities); (viii) power (e.g. thermal, electric and wind energy); and several cross-cutting issues (e.g. wastewater reuse and occupational health & safety).  For a complete listing, please see:

These guidelines will be available for public review and comment beginning in August 2006.  IFC is interested in receiving input from relevant industry sectors.  IFC is expected to roll out batches of draft Guidelines grouped together into related sectors.  Stakeholders will then have 60 days to comment on the drafts.  

The range of industry sectors and projects that will be affected by these guidelines is vast, and companies should prepare to review and provide inputs on the IFC’s drafts as appropriate.  Among other things, participation in this comment process may offer an opportunity to promote best practices or specific technologies to a broad range of industries at the global level. 

Beveridge & Diamond is well-positioned to assist clients in assessing and pursuing these opportunities.   The firm has advised financial institutions and lender groups on environmental and social requirements.  The firm also assisted clients during the last round of updates to the EHS standards in 1998.  We therefore have unique insights into this process.

For further information, please contact Paul Hagen, 202-789-6022,, or Russ LaMotte, 202-789-6080,




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