CCSI concerned about World Bank’s Guidance Note for Borrowers on Land Acquisition and Involuntary Resettlement (ESS5) | Land Portal
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Land acquisitions and land use restrictions can have adverse impacts on communities and individuals, including physical displacement; loss of land, income or livelihood; and/or involuntary resettlement. The World Bank addresses these negative impacts in its Draft Guidance Note for Borrowers on the application of its Environmental and Social Standard 5 (ESS5): Land Acquisitions, Restrictions on Land Use and Involuntary Resettlement. CCSI is deeply concerned that the World Bank’s Draft Guidance Note fails to provide effective guidance on the negative impacts of land acquisitions and land use restrictions. These concerns are set out in CCSI’s recent submission to the World Bank, which note that:


  • The Guidance Note’s description of affected persons and their rights contradicts and undermines international consensus on land governance supported by the Bank
  • The Note fails to provide any guidance on when involuntary resettlement should be considered unavoidable or how Borrowers can prioritize project designs that actually minimize displacement or other harms
  • It fails to put rights-holders (or “affected stakeholders”) at the center of solutions
  • Its discussion of retroactive applicability is wholly unsatisfactory, and risks the Bank condoning actions that completely fail to meet requirements of the Safeguards
  • It could do more to explain how forced evictions will be avoided through the application of ESS5


The full submission is available at:

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The Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment (CCSI), a joint center of Columbia Law School and the Earth Institute at Columbia University  dedicated to the study, practice and discussion of sustainable international investment.  As a partner in DFID’s LEGEND program, CCSI has created tools and conducted a suite of practice-focused research concerning the following topics as they relate to large-scale land-based investments in the global south.  


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