Climate change adaptation and soft law – June 15, 2012

Climate change adaptation and soft law –
Lessons from the World Bank Group
June 15, 2012
Side Event at People‘s Summit, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Dr. iur. Birgit Lode
Soft law – Characteristics
not one of the sources listed in Art. 38 ICJ Statute
non-binding political instruments
social rather than legal norms
written statement of expected behavior
expresses a preference and not an obligation to act
e.g. instruments of international organizations
increasingly blurred line between law and non-law
• soft law has certain legal value
Slide 2
Soft law – Advantages
more flexible – no long negotiating process
• useful when subject matter lacks political consensus or
scientific uncertainty; e.g. climate change
• useful in addressing new topics requiring innovative means
of rule-making
• non-state actors may participate in compliance mechanisms
compliance may be extremely good
• not better if norms contained in binding text
may lead to the formation of customary international law
may help building consensus towards binding obligations
Slide 3
Climate change related soft law regulations in
the World Bank Group (WBG)
WBG Environment Strategy 2012-2022
• adaptation one of 7 key areas
• coding of projects for contributions to adaptation
World Bank Environmental and Social Safeguard Policies
o review starting in the fall of 2012
o goal: updating and consolidating the framework
International Finance Corporation (IFC) Performance Standards
o recently updated edition effective as of January 1, 2012
o incorporates modifications on challenging issues
including climate change
Slide 4
The IFC Sustainability Framework and Climate Change
Policy on Environmental and Social Sustainability
• climate change serious global challenge
• climate-related impacts may impede economic and social wellbeing and development efforts
• support of adaptation measures promoting sustainable
• role of ecosystem services re CC mitigation and adaptation
Performance Standards on Environmental and Social Sustainability
• Performance Standard 1: adaptation
o risks and impacts identification process
inter alia, considers adaptation opportunities
• Performance Standard 3 & 4: mitigation
Slide 5
IBRD/IDA – Lessons from the IFC
World Bank to adopt and apply IFC Performance Standards
• proposal dating from May/June 2012
• application to private sector projects
o as of July 1, 2012
o approved and recently reaffirmed standards
o enhance policy coherence and cooperation across the WBG
o reduce overlaps and duplications across the WBG
o 2007: MIGA adopts the IFC Performance Standards
o IFC standards became international benchmark
Slide 6
soft law suitable means for addressing climate change
WBG policies good starting point
• standard-setting in project finance
• inclusion of various non-state actors
• compliance with norms fairly good
more explicit and detailed policies necessary
• so far, focus on mitigation
• resilience to be given more prominent position
• mainstreaming of climate change across standards
Slide 7
Thank you for your attention …
… and please feel free to contact me at:
Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik
German Institute for International and Security Affairs
Dr. iur. Birgit Lode
Global Issues Division
Ludwigkirchplatz 3-4
10719 Berlin
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