Ecosystem Services and the New IFC Performance Standards

Ecosystem Services Requirements in new IFC Performance Standards

Starting January 2012, IFC investments will be screened systematically for ecosystem service risks and impacts, which are mandated in multiple performance standards. These ecosystem service changes to the IFC standards are comprehensive and affect screening, mitigation, and compensation rules for future investments. They also include increased resources to strengthen IFC’s internal management capacity to assess ecosystem service risks and impacts. These additions to the performance standards complement existing requirements for safeguarding biodiversity and supporting sustainable natural resources management to reflect the importance of the environment for people’s health, culture and fundamental human rights.

The new standards include the following specific ecosystem services requirements:

      * Performance Standard 1-Assessment and Management of Environmental and Social Risks and Impacts – Identify all reasonably expected risks and impacts related to ecosystem services and use a broader definition of a project’s area of influence, which now includes indirect project impact on ecosystem services upon which Affected Communities’ livelihoods are dependent.

      * Performance Standard 4-Community Health, Safety, and Security – Assess and manage health, safety, and security risks to communities resulting from direct project impact on provisioning and regulating ecosystem services such as the loss of buffer areas (e.g., wetlands, mangroves, or upland forests.

      * Performance Standards 5-Land Acquisition and Involuntary Resettlement – Assess impacts on and compensate for loss of provisioning ecosystem services resulting from land acquisition and involuntary resettlement.

      * Performance Standard 6-Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Management of Living Natural Resources – Carry out a systematic review (including participation of Affected Communities) of all ecosystem services a project will impact or is dependent upon to identify priority ecosystem services, and avoid, minimize, and mitigate impacts on priority ecosystem services for which a client has direct management control or significant influence.

      * Performance Standard 7-Indigenous Peoples – Assess provisioning and cultural ecosystem services when examining projects affecting Indigenous Peoples.

      * Performance Standard 8-Cultural Heritage – Maintain or restore any ecosystem processes and ecosystem services when replicable cultural heritage is removed.