AfDB Safeguards

Environmental and social sustainability is key to economic growth and poverty reduction in Africa. The African Development Bank’s Strategy for 2013-2022 emphasizes the need to assist regional member countries in their efforts to achieve inclusive growth and transition to green growth. In addition, the Bank is committed to ensuring the social and environmental sustainability of the projects it supports. The Integrated Safeguard System is designed to promote the sustainability of project outcomes by protecting the environment and people from the potentially adverse impacts of projects. The safeguards aim to:


  • Avoid adverse impacts of projects on the environment and affected people, while maximizing potential development benefits to the extent possible;

  • Minimize, mitigate, and/ or compensate for adverse impacts on the environment and affected people when avoidance is not possible; and

  • Help borrowers/clients to strengthen their safeguard systems and develop the capacity to manage environmental and social risks.


The ADB requires that borrowers/ clients comply with these safeguards requirements during project preparation and implementation. The Integrated Safeguards Policy Statement sets out the basic tenets that guide and underpin the Bank’s approach to environmental safeguards. In addition, the Bank has adopted five OSs, limiting their number to just what is required to achieve the goals and optimal functioning of the ISS:


Operational Safeguard 1: Environmental and social assessment 


This overarching safeguard governs the process of determining a project’s environmental and social category and the resulting environmental and social assessment requirements.


Operational Safeguard 2: Involuntary resettlement land acquisition, population displacement and compensation


This safeguard consolidates the policy commitments and requirements set out in the Bank’s policy on involuntary resettlement, and incorporates a number of refinements designed to improve the operational effectiveness of those requirements.


Operational Safeguard 3: Biodiversity and ecosystem services


This safeguard aims to conserve biological diversity and promote the sustainable use of natural resources. It also translates the commitments in the Bank’s policy on integrated water resources management into operational requirements. 


Operational Safeguard 4: Pollution prevention and control, hazardous materials and resource efficiency


This safeguard covers the range of key impacts of pollution, waste, and hazardous materials for which there are agreed international conventions, as well as comprehensive industry-specific and regional standards, including greenhouse gas accounting, that other multilateral development banks follow. 


Operational Safeguard 5: Labour conditions, health and safety


This safeguard establishes the Bank’s requirements for its borrowers or clients concerning workers’ conditions, rights and protection from abuse or exploitation. It also ensures greater harmonization with most other multilateral development banks.