World Bank Environmental and Social Framework

World Bank Environmental and Social Framework


The World Bank Group

Type(s) of Tool

GuidelinesOperationalize sustainability principles, less specific than Benchmarks or Rating Systems.


Tools applicable to all sectors

Lifecycle Phase(s)

PrioritizationAuthorities decide which projects to realize and how to allocate resources., Project PlanningGeneral strategy for a project’s delivery is developed., Concept DesignTechnical experts broadly outline the project’s basic characteristics., ProcurementThe provision of goods and services to realize a project are tendered and closed., FinanceDevelopers decide how to pay for their project., Detailed DesignTechnical experts further elaborate the Concept Design., ConstructionThe asset is constructed in line with design, budget and timeline.

Open Source


Language Availability

Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, Spanish

Country of Origin


Date of Development





The World Bank Environmental and Social Framework (ESF) sets out the World Bank’s commitment to sustainable development through a Bank Policy and a set of environmental and social standards that enable borrowers to better manage environmental and social risks of projects and to improve development outcomes. The tool offers an assessment of environmental and social risks and impacts of projects throughout the project life cycle in a systematic manner proportionate to the nature and scale of the project and the potential risks and impacts. Since 2018, the framework applies to all World Bank investment project financing.

Tool Outcome

Since 2018, the ESF assessment of the environmental and social risks and impacts is obligatory for projects that receive loans under the World Bank’s “investment project financing” scheme.

Sustainability Criteria

The ESF evaluates the efforts of infrastructure projects in 10 areas:
– Assessment & management of environmental and social risks and impacts
– Labour & working conditions
– Resource efficiency & pollution prevention
– Community health & safety
– Land acquisition
– Biodiversity conservation
– Indigenous peoples
– Cultural heritage
– Financial intermediaries
– Stakeholder engagement & information disclosure