Project implementation: World Bank view on how borrowers should behave in case of physical, economic displacement

wbAt a time when the Government of India has set in motion a fresh debate on the “need” to diluting some of the provisions of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, a “leaked” document, “Review and Update of the World Bank’s Safeguard Policies: Proposed Environmental and Social Framework (First Draft)”*, provides the top banker’s view on what its borrowers should to meet an important environmental and social standard (ESS) — land acquisition, restrictions on land use and involuntary resettlement. Excerpts:

Where land acquisition or restrictions on land use are unavoidable, the Borrower will, as part of the environmental and social assessment, conduct a census to identify the persons who will be affected by the project, to establish an inventory of land and assets to be affected to determine who will be eligible for compensation and assistance and to discourage ineligible persons, such as opportunistic settlers, from claiming benefits. The social assessment will also address the claims of communities who, for valid reasons, may not be present in the project area during the time of the census, such as seasonal resource users. In conjunction with the census, the Borrower will establish a cut-off date for eligibility. Information regarding the cut-off date will be well documented and disseminated throughout the project area.

To address the issues identified in the environmental and social assessment, the Borrower will prepare a plan commensurate with the risks and impacts associated with the project:

(a) For projects with minor land acquisition or restrictions on land use, as a result of which there will be no measurable impact on incomes or livelihoods, the plan will establish eligibility criteria for affected persons, set out procedures and standards for compensation, and incorporate arrangements for consultations, monitoring and addressing grievances;

(b) For projects causing physical displacement, the plan will set out the additional measures relevant to relocation of affected persons;

(c) For projects involving economic displacement with impacts on livelihoods or income generation, the plan will set out the additional measures relating to livelihood improvement or restoration; and

(d) For projects that may impose changes in land use that restrict access to resources in legally designated parks or protected areas or other common property resources on which local people may depend for livelihood purposes, the plan will establish a participatory process for determining appropriate restrictions on use and set out the mitigation measures to address adverse impacts on livelihoods that may result from such restrictions.

The Borrower’s plan will establish the roles and responsibilities relating to financing and implementation, and include arrangements for contingency financing to meet unanticipated costs, as well as arrangements for timely and coordinated response to unforeseen circumstances impeding progress toward desired outcomes. The Borrower will establish procedures to monitor and evaluate the implementation of the plan and will take corrective action as necessary during implementation to achieve the objectives of Environmental and Social Standards (ESS).

The extent of monitoring activities will be commensurate with the project’s risks and impacts. For all projects with significant involuntary resettlement impacts, the Borrower will retain competent resettlement professionals to monitor the implementation of resettlement plans, design corrective actions as necessary, provide advice on compliance with this ESS and produce periodic monitoring reports. Affected persons will be consulted during the monitoring process. Periodic monitoring reports will be prepared and affected persons will be informed about monitoring results.

Implementation of the Borrower’s plan will be considered completed when the adverse impacts of resettlement have been addressed in a manner that is consistent with the objectives of this ESS. For all projects with significant involuntary resettlement impacts, the Borrower will commission an external completion audit of the plan when all mitigation measures have been substantially completed. The completion audit will be undertaken by competent resettlement professionals, will assess whether livelihoods and living standards have been improved or at least restored and, as necessary, will propose corrective actions to meet objectives not yet achieved.

Where the exact nature or magnitude of the land acquisition or restrictions on land use related to a project with potential to cause physical and/or economic displacement is unknown during project preparation, the Borrower will develop a framework establishing general principles and procedures compatible with this ESS. Once the individual project components are defined and the necessary information becomes available, such a framework will be expanded into a specific plan commensurate with potential risks and impacts.

Physical Displacement

In the case of physical displacement, the Borrower will develop a plan that covers, at a minimum, the applicable requirements of this ESS regardless of the number of people affected. The plan will be designed to mitigate the negative impacts of displacement and, as warranted, to identify development opportunities. It will include a resettlement budget and implementation schedule, and establish the entitlements of all categories of affected persons (including host communities). Particular attention will be paid to the needs of the poor and the vulnerable. The Borrower will document all transactions to acquire land rights, provision of compensation and other assistance associated with relocation activities.

If people living in the project area are required to move to another location, the Borrower will:

(a) offer displaced persons choices among feasible resettlement options, including adequate replacement housing or cash compensation; and

(b) provide relocation assistance suited to the needs of each group of displaced persons.

New resettlement sites built for displaced persons will offer living conditions at least equivalent to those previously enjoyed, or consistent with prevailing minimum codes or standards, whichever set of standards is higher. If new resettlement sites are to be prepared, host communities will be consulted regarding planning options, and resettlement plans will ensure continued access, at least at existing levels or standards, for host communities to facilities and services. The displaced persons’ preferences with respect to relocating in preexisting communities and groups will be taken into consideration. Existing social and cultural institutions of the displaced persons and any host communities will be respected.

In the case of physically displaced persons — of those who have formal legal rights to land or assets, and those who do not have formal legal rights to land or assets, but have a claim to land or assets that is recognized or recognizable under national law — the Borrower will offer the choice of replacement property of equal or higher value, with security of tenure, equivalent or better characteristics, and advantages of location, or cash compensation at replacement cost. Where livelihoods of displaced persons are derived primarily from land, compensation in kind will, where possible, be considered in lieu of cash.

In the case of physically displaced persons of those who have no recognizable legal right or claim to the land or assets they occupy or use, the Borrower will provide arrangements to allow them to obtain adequate housing with security of tenure. Where these displaced persons own and occupy structures, the Borrower will compensate them for the loss of assets other than land, such as dwellings and other improvements to the land, at replacement cost.

Based on consultation with such displaced persons, the Borrower will provide relocation assistance in lieu of compensation for land sufficient for them to restore their standards of living at an adequate alternative site.

The Borrower is not required to compensate or assist those who encroach on the project area after the cut-off date for eligibility, provided the cut-off date has been clearly established and made public.

The Borrower will not resort to forced evictions of affected persons.  As an alternative to displacement, the Borrower may consider negotiating in situ land development arrangements by which those to be affected may elect to accept a partial loss of land or localized relocation in return for improvements that will increase the value of their property after development. Any person not wishing to participate will be allowed to opt instead for full compensation and other assistance as required in this ESS.

Economic Displacement

In the case of projects affecting livelihoods or income generation, the Borrower’s plan will include measures to allow affected persons to improve, or at least restore, their incomes or livelihoods. The plan will establish the entitlements of affected persons and/or communities and will ensure that these are provided in a transparent, consistent, and equitable manner. The plan will incorporate arrangements to monitor the effectiveness of livelihood measures during implementation, as well as evaluation once implementation is completed. The mitigation of economic displacement will be considered complete when the completion audit concludes that affected persons or communities have received all of the assistance for which they are eligible, and have been provided with adequate opportunity to reestablish their livelihoods.

Economically displaced persons who face loss of assets or access to assets will be compensated for such loss at replacement cost:

(a) In cases where land acquisition or restrictions on land use affect commercial enterprises, affected business owners will be compensated for the cost of identifying a viable alternative location; for lost net income during the period of transition; for the cost of the transfer and reinstallation of the plant, machinery, or other equipment; and for reestablishing commercial activities. Affected employees will receive assistance for temporary loss of wages and, if necessary, assistance in identifying alternative employment opportunities;

(b) In cases affecting persons with legal rights or claims to land that are recognized or recognizable under national law, replacement property (e.g., agricultural or commercial sites) of equal or greater value will be provided, or, where appropriate, cash compensation at replacement cost; and

(c) Economically displaced persons who are without legally recognizable claims to land will be compensated for lost assets other than land (such as crops, irrigation infrastructure and other improvements made to the land), at replacement cost.

Additionally, the Borrower will provide assistance in lieu of land compensation sufficient to provide such persons with an opportunity to reestablish livelihoods elsewhere. The Borrower is not required to compensate or assist persons who encroach on the project area after the cut-off date for eligibility.  Economically displaced persons will be provided opportunities to improve, or at least restore, their means of income-earning capacity, production levels, and standards of living.

For persons whose livelihoods are land-based, replacement land that has a combination of productive potential, locational advantages, and other factors at least equivalent to that being lost will be offered where feasible. Where provision of suitable replacement land is not possible, economically displaced persons will be compensated at replacement cost for land (and other lost assets);

For persons whose livelihoods are natural resource-based and where project-related restrictions on access envisaged in paragraph 4(c) apply, measures will be implemented to either allow continued access to affected resources or to provide access to alternative resources with equivalent livelihood-earning potential and accessibility. Where common property resources are affected, benefits and compensation associated with natural resource usage may be collective in nature.

If it is demonstrated that replacement land or resources are unavailable, the Borrower will offer economically displaced persons options for alternative income earning opportunities, such as credit facilities, skills training, business start-up assistance, employment opportunities, or cash assistance additional to compensation for assets.

Cash assistance alone, however, frequently fails to provide affected persons with the productive means or skills to restore livelihoods. Transitional support will be provided as necessary to all economically displaced persons, based on a reasonable estimate of the time required to restore their income-earning capacity, production levels, and standards of living.

Collaboration with government

The Borrower will establish means of collaboration with any governmental agencies or subnational jurisdictions that are responsible for any aspects of land acquisition, resettlement planning, or provision of necessary assistance. In addition, where the capacity of other responsible agencies is limited, the Borrower will actively support resettlement planning, implementation, and monitoring.

If requirements of this ESS, the Borrower will prepare supplemental arrangements or provisions for inclusion in the resettlement plan to address identified shortcomings. The plan will also specify financial responsibilities for each of the agencies involved, appropriate timing and sequencing for implementation steps, and coordination arrangements for addressing financial contingencies or responding to unforeseen circumstances.

The Borrower may request technical assistance from the Bank to strengthen Borrower capacity, or the capacity of other responsible agencies, for resettlement planning, implementation and monitoring. Such forms of assistance may include staff training, assistance in formulating new regulations or policies relating to land acquisition or other aspects of resettlement, financing for assessments or other investment costs associated with physical or economic displacement, or other purposes.

The Borrower may request the Bank to finance either a component of the main investment causing displacement and requiring resettlement, or a free-standing resettlement project with appropriate cross-conditionalities, processed and implemented in parallel with the investment that causes the displacement. The Borrower may also request the Bank to finance resettlement even though it is not financing the main investment that makes resettlement necessary.

To be discussed by the World Bank’s Committee on Development Effectiveness, to meet on July 30. Click HERE to see download the full document

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