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Board Approves Panel Recommendation to Investigate Santa Cruz Road Corridor Connector Project in Bolivia; Parties Offered Option of Dispute Resolution

The World Bank Board of Executive Directors on March 31, 2023, approved an Inspection Panel recommendation to investigate the Santa Cruz Road Corridor Connector Project (San Ignacio - San Jose) in Bolivia. 

The Request for Inspection was submitted on December 19, 2022, by leaders of four “Centrales Chiquitanos” (organizations of Chiquitano indigenous people) in the Chiquitania region of eastern Bolivia. They authorized two local civil society organizations to represent them and authorized the Bank Information Center – a US-based nongovernmental organization – to provide them with support and advice during the Panel process. 

The Requesters allege Project activities threaten their land and livelihoods, as the road creates opportunities for illegal activities and for settlers to move into their area. The Requesters allege that the original Indigenous People’s Plan (IPP) neither mitigated adverse impacts nor granted them access to Project benefits. The Requesters claim the updated IPP, which was agreed to in December 2021 after three years of engagement with the Bank team and the implement agency, remains to have shortcoming such as inadequate social and economic benefits and measures intended to avoid, minimize, or compensate for the Project’s adverse impacts. The Requesters raise concerns about ineffective implementation of the IPP, and a lack of meaningful consultation on the Project. They allege Project workers engaged in sexual exploitation, abuse, and harassment (SEA/H) of indigenous women and girls. They say the Project contractor’s hiring conditions do not guarantee the labor rights of the Chiquitanos working at Project sites.

The Panel registered the Request on January 13, 2023, and Management submitted its Response to the Request on February 15, 2023. A Panel team visited Bolivia March 4-12, 2023 to assess the eligibility of the Request. The Panel submitted its Report and Recommendation to the Board on March 17, 2023, in which it recommended carrying out an investigation into the alleged issues of harm and related non-compliance with Bank’s Policies. The Board approved the Panel’s recommendation on March 31, 2023.  

Under the updated Inspection Panel resolution and the resolution creating the World Bank Accountability Mechanism (AM), the complainants and the borrower are being offered the option of dispute resolution. The AM Secretary will inform the Board, the Panel and Bank Management within 30 business days whether the parties have voluntarily agreed to pursue dispute resolution. More