The Panel received the Request for Inspection on February 10, 2015. MINIS is a Technical Assistance operation aimed at facilitating infrastructure investments to support mining operations in Mongolia. It finances assessments studies for subprojects, two of which are the subject of the Request: the Shuren Hydropower Plan and the Orkhon Gobi Water Diversion project. The complainants alleged that the two subprojects may have potential irreversible environmental and social impacts on the Selenge River in Mongolia and Russia’s Lake Baikal, a World Heritage Site. They also raised concerns about the subprojects’ transboundary and cumulative effects, and complained about lack of consultation and disclosure of information.
In July 2015, the Panel proposed – and the Board approved – deferring for one year the Panel’s recommendation on whether to investigate the complaint. In making that recommendation, the Panel considered that the commitments made by Bank management in its response to the complaint provided ample opportunities to address the Requesters’ concerns and to introduce the necessary corrective measures to ensure that meaningful consultations took place with all stakeholders. A year later, in July 2016, the Panel recognized that while progress had been made, there were still several pending actions to address the concerns of the Requesters that required more time to implement. The Panel stated it needed to wait until further progress was seen in order to assess the implementation of management’s actions, specifically regarding the quality of the consultation process and the progress and scope of the project’s Environmental and Social Impact Assessment. The Panel recommended a second deferral and committed to report back to the Board within one year. The Board approved the recommendation.
Since then, the Panel had received frequent communications from the complaints and three update notes from Bank management, maintained contact with the World Heritage Program housed at the International Union for Conservation of Nature and had kept abreast of recommendations and decisions of the World Heritage Committee related to Lake Baikal. In addition, a Panel team visited Mongolia and Russia in June 2017 and met with complainants and other potentially affected people who had participated in the consultations, scientific experts, government officials and World Bank staff.
The Panel expressed satisfaction that the project had undertaken major adjustments and made important efforts to properly consult potentially affected people. The Panel recognized that the Request for Inspection had placed the project on a positive trajectory, especially through a recognition of the relevance of transboundary issues, and the greater importance given to ensuring meaningful consultations with both Russian and Mongolian stakeholders. The Panel noted Bank management’s commitment to include various environmental assessment tools, including a regional environmental assessment, cumulative impact assessment and analysis of alternatives, and to integrate comments from the consultations into revised terms of reference for the studies. It also recognized improvement in the capacity of the MINIS project management unit and the commitment to establish a joint Russian-Mongolian committee of scientists. The Panel maintained that such actions provided evidence of management’s moving in the right direction and its intention to comply with relevant policies and procedures, and on July 13, 2017, it recommended not to investigate the complaint. In making this recommendation, the Panel emphasized the need for management to remain in close contact with the Requesters and affected communities, to incorporate some of the lessons from previous consultations into future ones, and to ensure diligent implementation of the full set of environmental assessment tools that have been identified.
The World Bank Board of Executive Directors approved the Panel’s recommendation on July 27, 2017.
Note: Translations of Inspection Panel and Management documents are unofficial and are provided as a service to interested parties. Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy. If any part of the translation in Russian or Mongolian is inconsistent with the original text in English, the latter shall govern.