IFC Announces Plans to Review Disclosure Policy

11 September 2009

The World Banks private sector lending arm, the International Finance Corporation, announced a review of its disclosure policy on September 8, a 15-month process to be done in conjunction with a review of its environmental and social policies.

The IFCs July 23, 2009, report analyzes its experience with the environmental, social, and disclosure policies adopted in 2006, suggesting some room for improvement in its disclosure policies.

No specific changes were proposed at the outset of a three-stage process beginning with a call for preliminary comments. The process is outlined on the IFC web site.

In a statement evaluating the three-year-old policy, the IFC stated:

Regarding disclosure, the report finds that IFC is generally effective in meeting its institutional requirements, as defined in the Disclosure Policy. However, disclosure of information regarding IFCs activities throughout the life cycle of the project remains inconsistent. Implementation experience also suggests that the degree of disclosure, documented evidence of community engagement, and quality of information disclosed varies across IFCs clients. The result is that stakeholders must often look both to IFC and to clients to piece together a picture of the project, whom it affects, the expected development outcomes, how the project is being implemented, and whether IFC achieved the development goals and outcomes for the project. In particular, there is significant interest in more measurement and reporting of project-level development impact results.

The IFC analysis suggests a number of general areas for improvement of its disclosure policy, including recommendations for the IFC to:

  • provide more access to information disclosed by clients,
  • consider proactive disclosure during the supervision and evaluations stages of a project, and
  • evaluate how the IFC measures and reports its additionality and development impacts on affected communities and interested stakeholders.

The review and update of the Disclosure Policy will also consider the growing interest, both internal and external to IFC, in project-level disclosure of development impacts of IFC-financed projects, according to the report, noting particularly a desire to better understand project-sponsor performance against development outcome targets, particularly for more controversial projects.

The IFC report also says that in some cases, disclosure across the project life cycle may not beappropriate, or may be too cumbersome for some clients or for IFC. Therefore, the report continued, Options should be considered for different disclosure requirements, depending on the size or impact of the project.

Phase I of the consultation period on key issues in the IFCs policy on disclosure will continue through November. An issue summary of consultation outcomes is expected in December. Disclosure will be among the topics on the agenda for an IFC consultation session on the policy review planned for the October 5 at the World Bank annual meeting, to be held in Istanbul, Turkey.


By Toby McIntosh

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Filed under: IFTI Watch


In this column, Washington, D.C.-based journalist Toby J. McIntosh reports on the latest developments in information disclosure in International Financial and Trade Institutions (IFTI).
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