Social Policy

In recent years, safeguards policies have been receiving considerable media attention as IFIs continue to invest time and resources in updating their safeguard policy frameworks. Yet safeguards are but one aspect of social policy. Other aspects include social development policy (including initiatives to mainstream gender-sensitive development; initiatives to ensure the participation and empowerment of people and communities affected by development processes), social protection policy (including social assistance and welfare service programs including child protection and micro- and area based schemes to address poverty, and vulnerability; social insurance programs to cushion risks associated with unemployment, ill-health, disability, work-related injury and old age; and labour market policies and programs designed to generate employment, improve working conditions), human rights law, etc. Unfortunately, IFI institutional treatments of social issues (such as web and print publications touting institutional contributions to social development) seldom help to situate different institutional initiatives and activities within their greater policy contexts.

It can be challenging for clients to identify the range of social policy that may be applicable to a given project or development initiative. Adding a layer of complexity to any discussion of ‘social policy’ among international financial institutions (IFIs) are those policies that have an apparent ‘social’ orientation, but which are operational policies that come to bear only on internal bank operations.

This repository compiles (and attempts to establish some manner of categorising) social policy among international financial institutions (IFIs).

NOTE: The menu links below will not work if you are viewing this site via GitHub.
Please browse from the folder level: policy | implementation resources.

1 Asian Development Bank
    1.1 Policy
    1.2 Implementation Resources
2 World Bank
    2.1 Policy
    2.2 Implementation Resources
3 Inter-American Development Bank
    3.1 Policy
    3.2 Implementation Resources
4 International Finance Corporation (IFC)
    4.1 Policy
    4.2 Implementation Resources
5 European Bank for Reconstruction and Development
    5.1 Policy
    5.2 Implementation Resources
6 Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC)
    6.1 Policy

In policy, terminology is important. Comparative analysis of social policy is a particularly challenging topic for maintaining terminological clarity and consistency. Over the years, I have worked to develop my own definitions for terms used in social policy to ensure clarity and continuity in my writing. This lexicon is influenced by the IFI definitions, but it is adapted to accommodate discussion of broad phenomenological concerns.

Toward defining 'social policy', most IFIs maintain some form of operations manual—policies for effecting the mandates of their institutional charters. In addition to board-approved policies and regulations, some IFI operations manuals also include notes of guidance staff and clients that elaborate on the intended meaning of policy provisions and to inform better implementation.

For example, while the Asian Development Bank’s operations manual refers only to policies (which the ADB terms 'operational procedures', or OPs), the operations manual of the World Bank contains operational policies (OPs), bank procedures (BPs), directives, as well as interim instructions to staff (referred to OpMemos).

Distinctions between ‘policy’ a ‘guidance’ can be difficult to discern in the absence of project legal agreements. It is not always possible for clients to discern what is required from that which is simply “recommended” (a question that my clients often pose when considering my recommendations for policy implementation).

To help address definitional ambiguity, I have started to compile definitions for common terms. This list is not meant to be exhaustive, and my focus is specific to social development concerns.

Please be aware of the on-going nature of this work. Account for what constitutes ‘social policy’ at a given lending institution changes over time. I'll do my best to keep up. Please also recognize that I can't provide an exhaustive accounting of all IFI social policy.

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Am I analyzing social policy elswhere (in this repo or otherwise)?

Yes. Here are links to Google Spreadsheets that I use to try to follow developments in social policy: