How can the World Bank make the most of Good Practice Notes on child SEA/H?

The World Bank has released new and updated guidelines to address child SEA/H in its operations that could be a game changer for child rights if fully implemented. BIC calls on the World Bank to commit the necessary resources to fully implement these GPNs, moving from child protection on paper to child protection in practice.

Last year the World Bank released two Good Practice Notes (GPNs) addressing Sexual Exploitation and Abuse and Sexual Harassment (SEA/H) in both human development (HD) operations and large infrastructure projects involving major civil works. 

GPNs are non-binding notes for Bank staff regarding best practices for different issues, which intend to help Borrowers understand and better uphold their obligations under the Environmental and Social Framework (ESF) requirements. As positive as these GPNs are, guidance is useless without proper implementation. 

In order to transform the World Bank into an institution that genuinely prioritizes children’s rights and child SEA/H prevention and response, the Bank needs to translate these GPNs into practice and take them as a starting point rather than a ceiling. To accomplish this, the Bank should put targeted measures in project documents, including but not limited to explanations of how a Grievance Redress Mechanism (GRM) will be child-friendly and what training on child SEA/H will be provided. The Bank must then monitor Borrowers’ performance and project implementation with this guidance in mind. The Bank should also allocate the necessary financial and human resources to strengthen its technical capacity, training, and staffing for the successful implementation of these GPNs. 

Effective safeguarding needs a comprehensive organizational approach. The responsibility for child SEA/H safeguarding cannot rest solely on one individual or department. The release of these new and updated GPNs presents a critical opportunity for Executive Directors, Bank management, and Task Team Leaders to become champions in tackling child SEA/H. They can all play a pivotal role in effectively preventing and responding to child SEA/H in all Bank operations. 

To encourage this, BIC has developed two policy briefs, one on addressing and preventing child SEA/H in Human Development (HD) operations and another on projects involving Major Civil Works. These briefs discuss how these GPNs are a positive development for children and how to implement them effectively. 

BIC expects these GPNs to result in positive change towards preventing and responding to child SEA/H. We call on the World Bank to use these policy briefs to strengthen their ability to implement the GPNs effectively, acting to prevent and respond to child SEA/H in HD operations and infrastructure projects.