Fonds - Records of the Environment Sector

Identity area

Reference code



Records of the Environment Sector


  • 1983 - 2006 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

275.00 linear feet of textual records (approximate)

Context area

Name of creator

Biographical history

Activities related to the environment sector were initiated in 1970 when President McNamara announced that he had created the post of environmental adviser. James Lee was named to the post and would remain in the position until his retirement from the Bank in 1987. The Office of Environmental Affairs (OEA) was subsequently formed and placed in the Projects Advisory Staff (PAS) of the Projects Staff, Vice Presidency. The Office's name would briefly change to the Office of Environmental and Health Affairs (OEHA) in or around 1977 and then, permanently, to the Office of Environmental and Scientific Affairs (OESA) in 1983 or 1984.

Throughout the 1970s the OEA was provided with few staff or resources and little influence. While the majority of the Office's resources were directed towards reviews of Bank projects, its five stated objectives were to:

  • ensure that development projects did not 'unduly' harm the environment and social well-being of a country;

  • develop increased awareness of environmental problemsassociated with the development of developing countries;

  • marshal the necessary resources and expertise to study the problem;

  • encourage research and training in that area; and

  • improve information and technical cooperation among countries.

    Bank projects related to environmental protection, rehabilitation, or enhancement began in earnest in 1974. These included projects related to water pollution, forestry, soil conservation and anti-desertification, air pollution, wildlife, range-management, and solid waste disposal. However, guidance and advice was generally provided by departments within the Vice President, Central Projects (CPSVP). The OEA maintained its function as project reviewer. Its agenda did, however, extend into areas that were not specifically covered by other sectoral departments in the CPSVP such as health, resettlement, and the rights of indigenous peoples.

The OEA would also provide guidance for project planning through training and publications. In 1974 it published a handbook entitled Environmental, Health and Human Ecological Considerations in Economic Projects and in 1975 it produced Guidelines on Environmental Dimensions of Projects. In 1980 the OEA, together with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), released the Declaration of Environmental Policies and Procedures Relating to Economic Development. In 1984, the Bank introduced a new Operational Manual Statement and, for the first time, it set out Bank guidelines on the environmental review of projects.

The OEA continued to exercise a small amount of power and influence throughout the early and mid-1980s. However, during the Bank-wide reorganization that took place in 1987, the Environment Department (ENV) was created within the Vice President, Sector Policy and Research (PRE). Kenneth Piddington was named its first director in 1988. The Department was placed on the same level as other sector departments. At the time of its establishment, the Department had three divisions: the Environmental Operations and Strategy Division (ENVOS), the Economics and Policy Division (ENVEP), and the Environmental Systems and Technology Division (ENVST).

The Department's role was to formulate Bank-wide policy and strategy for the full range of environmental issues affecting development that arise from the exploitation of natural resources; at the time, this also included issues related to resettlement and migration. Specifically, its stated roles and responsibilities were to:

  • conduct an integrated program of research, policy analysis and operational support on environmental issues, and to formulate Bank policies to account for environmental issues in all of the Bank's sectors of operation;

  • enhance the Bank's intellectual leadership on environmental issues;

  • lead the development of new initiatives for the environment, and to contribute to the development of new, environmentally sound Bank policies and products;

  • define the Bank's objectives, policies and products in the sub-sector of forestry;

  • define the Bank's objectives and to improve its methodologies and practices with regard to environmental concerns;

  • manage and disseminate the results of the ex post evaluation of the environmental consequences of the Bank's policies and operations;

  • liaise with groups, agencies and senior professional leaders actively working on environmental issues;

  • participate in appropriate committees, including the sector policy working group and country strategy working group;

  • collaborate closely with other Policy, Planning and Research (PPR) Departments in formulating environmental policies for the Bank's operations; and

  • help recruit and train environmental specialists.

The Environment Department, like the other sector Departments in the PRE, had no operational responsibilities.

As part of the increased focus placed on environmental impact and review, four regional environment divisions (REDs) were established. The new offices in the four regional technical departments would each oversee one or two regions and would review all projects and oversee the implementation of environmental measures included in Bank-supported projects. The divisions were given 'sign-off authority' which meant that a project could not go forward for approval until it had been cleared by the RED division chief. In addition, REDs would work to identify new advances in resource management and help with institution-building through close contact with national environmental offices.

In December, 1988, the ENVEP and ENVST Divisions of the Environment Department were replaced by the Environmental Policy Research Division (ENVPR) and a Special Environmental Program (ENVSE). Then, on September 1, 1990, the ENVOS was terminated and replaced by the Environmental Programs and Assessment Division (ENVAP). This reflected a reorientation of the work program away from ad hoc operational support, necessitated by the newness of the subject and the shortage of qualified operational staff, toward provision of guidelines based on thorough reviews of the Bank's environmental work. In particular, the new Division would focus on such crosscutting issues as environmental assessment of projects and integration of environmental factors into the country economic and sector programs.

On December 1, 1991, President Lewis Preston's first reorganization abolished all Senior Vice-Presidencies. The new Sector and Operations Policy Vice Presidency (OSP) was created and adopted functions previously supervised by Senior Vice Presidents, including the Environment Department.

In 1991, the Environment Department's Global Environment Unit (ENVGC), a unit to coordinate Bank-related activities of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol (MLF), was created in the Department. The GEF was sponsored jointly by the World Bank, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the UNEP. Its purpose is to provide funds to developing countries for projects that contribute to the solution of global environmental problems. The Bank was initially assigned the chairmanship of the Facility and administered two trust funds - the Ozone Projects Trust Fund and the Global Environment Trust Fund - to be applied to several priority areas of global environmental problems, including: the reduction of CFC emissions to protect the ozone layer of the atmosphere; the reduction of greenhouse gases; improved management of tropical forests; and reducing pollution of international waters. Since July of 1991 the Bank has also served as one of four implementers of the MLF, the financial mechanism of the Montreal Protocol (MP). The ENVGC acts as the Bank's Montreal Protocol Operations Team and is responsible for coordinating efforts of other Bank staff and local partners to assist countries in meetingtheir obligations under the MP.

When the GEF was established in April of 1991, it initially reported to the Senior Vice President, Policy, Research and External Affairs (PRESV); a GEF Administrator's Unit (ENVGE) was assigned to the Environment Department. After the December 1, 1991, reorganization and the termination of the PRESV, the Director of the Environment Department was designated Chairman of the GEF and the ENVGC was established. On January 1, 1993, the GEF Coordination Unit was upgraded to a division while maintaining its previous acronym. In 1994 the GEF was restructured and moved out of the World Bank. However, the Bank became the Trustee of the GEF Trust Fund and continues to provide administrative services out of the Environment Department.

Throughout, the Bank served and continues to serve as a coordinating agency for Bank-implemented GEF and MP projects. As of 2012, the World Bank's GEF coordination activities are carried out by the Environment Department's GEF Coordination Team. Its responsibilities include:

  • management of the Bank's GEF corporate program;

  • institutional relations;

  • Bank - GEF project policies and procedures;

  • Outreach, knowledge management and external relations;

  • Budget management and finance; and

  • Monitoring and evaluation.

Effective January 1, 1993, the Department was again restructured as part of a larger, Bank-wide reorganization of sector policy and support units. The larger reorganization involved the creation of three new thematic vice presidencies tosucceed the terminated OSP: Environmentally Sustainable Development (ESD); Human Resources Development and Operations Policy (HRO); and Finance and Private Sector Development (FPD). The Environment Department became one of the ESD's subordinate departments along with: the Agriculture and Natural Resources Department (AGR); the Transportation, Water and Urban Development Department (TWU); and the Secretariat of the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). Each sector department maintained the following functions:

  • prepare policies, guidelines, standards, handbooks and analytical tools relevant to the sector;

  • identify, codify and disseminate best practices and lessons of experience, and evaluate weaknesses;

  • provide advice to the Regions as needed;

  • monitor and track work in the sectors assigned in order to identify generic issues and identify, evaluate and influence trends and patterns;

  • perform surveys of experience and practice within the Bank and elsewhere, and developinnovative approaches;

  • participate in Bank-wide efforts to assess skill requirements, and to upgrade skills through recruitment, training, orientation, seminars, newsletters, etc.;

  • represent the Bank to external communities of interest; and

  • maintain an awareness of relevant external practices and viewpoints.

Restructuring of the Environment Department included the termination of the ENVPR and ENVAP and transfer of their functions to the new Social Policy and Resettlement Division (ENVSP) and Land, Water and Natural Habitats Division (ENVLW), respectively. The new Pollution and Environmental Economics Division (ENVPE) was also established.

Four years later, in 1997, the thematic Vice Presidencies were reorganized to strike a better balance between country focus and sectoral excellence. To facilitate sharing of expertise and knowledge, the Bank established networks that linked Bank-wide communities of staff working in the same field across organizational boundaries and with external partners. The networks formed a virtual overlay on the existing Bank organization, and were intended to link staff working in the same sectors throughout the Bank, whether the staff was located in the Regions, in the Central Vice-Presidencies' Sector Departments, or other Vice-Presidencies.

Each of the three thematic Central Vice-Presidencies was transformed into the central units, or anchors, of each network and consisted of the existing sector departments. On a Bank-wide basis, sector specialists were grouped into regional sector units or into central sector departments which worked with country departments in a matrix relationship. Staff from the central sector departments could become part of the regional operational teams when their sectoral expertise was required. The work programs of Network staff focused on:

  • global knowledge - putting the best development knowledge in the hands of Bank task teams; ensuring that the knowledge base was accessible to external clients; and contributing to the growth of the knowledge base;

  • enhanced skills - developing and providing content to training courses; establishing professional and technical standards for professional development;

  • shared strategies - assisting regional and central units to develop a common sector agenda, and ensuring that skills are effectively deployed across the entire network. Network leadership assumed responsibility for global programs, sector strategy development and evaluation, strategic partnerships, and learning and dissemination;

  • best teams and best practices - improving the Bank's flexibility and mobility by building stronger task teams and delivering higher quality products;

  • institutional initiatives - providing substantial support for new Bank-wide initiatives, such as Social Development, Rural Development, Financial Sector, Anti-corruption, Human Resources, and Knowledge Partnerships.

The result of the 1997 restructuring was four networks: the Environmentally and Socially Sustainable Development Network (ESSD); the Finance, Private Sector Development, and Infrastructure Network (FPD); the Human Development Network (HDN); and the Poverty Reduction and Economic Management Network (PRM). The Environment Department retained its name and component parts and was situated within the ESSD.

On January 1, 2007, the Energy Department was moved to the Sustainable Development Network (SDN). The SDN officially came into existence on July 1, 2006, and was operationally functional as of January 1, 2007. It was formed through the integration of ESSD and Infrastructure (INF). Along with the Environment Department, SDN includes the following units or departments: Agricultural and Rural Development Department (ARD); Concessional and Sub-National Finance (CSF); Finance, Economics and Urban Development (FEU); Sustainable Energy (SEG); Social Development (SDV); and Transport, Water, and Information and Communication Technologies (TWI).

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Records were transferred directly from sector units to the Archives using approved records retention and disposition schedules.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

The fonds consists of records that reflect the various activities of the environment sector in the World Bank. The majority of the records in this fonds were created or received by the Environment Department's Global Environment Unit (ENVGC) and relate to the coordination of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol (MLF). These records date from the beginning of the Bank's involvement with the organizations and the creation of the ENVGCin 1991. Included are GEF-affiliated project files prepared by the project task manager and sent to the ENVGC for recordkeeping. For Bank-related projects, ENVGC serves as the liaison between the project task manager and GEF, and the files correspond to the task manager's files in the regional units. In most instances the ENVGC files will consist of records documenting project identification, negotiation and project agreement; records from the implementation phase of the project are usually not forwarded to ENVGC, although the project completion report often is. Dozens of projects are represented in the fonds; however, records related to the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System are particularly numerous. A small number of chronological files created by the Environment technical departments of the Banks' Regions that were implementing GEF projects in its earliest years (from 1990 to 1992) are included.

The fonds also consists of records that document the ENVGC's role as GEF Trustee. Records of this type documentrelationships between the ENVGC and agencies internal and external to the Bank with regard to GEF funding, projects, and operations. Copies of agreements and contracts, terms and conditions, memoranda of understanding, and annual and financial reports are also included. The fonds also contains records related to the formation and monitoring of GEF and MLF budgets and work programs. Included are the final versions of the annual budget, the mid-year review, work program, disbursement reports, and budget-related correspondence. Also included are working files consisting of memoranda and individual transaction records related to the implementation of the budget. Annual regional retrospective reviews submitted by region offices are also included.

Correspondence, research materials, and reports pertaining to the development and implementation of GEF policies, procedures, and standards are also included. Included are ad hoc studies performed to inform GEF participants on various topics. Also included are records relating to GEF council meetings and bilateral consultations and meetings; these consist of minutes, information documents, work programs, and executive summaries. Also included are records relating to conventions, forums, conferences, retreats, workshops, planning meetings, informal consultations, and Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel (STAP) meetings.

A significant number of GEF-related ENVGC records were created or collected by one of ENVGC's GEF Operations Coordinators, Ken Newcombe. Newcombe's chronological files from the early 1990s are also included. The chronological files of Ian Johnson during his time as Administrator/Assistant CEO of GEF are also included; these date from 1993 to 1996. Chronological files of Hans Wyss from this period are also included. Wyss worked out of the African Technical Department (AFT) and the Central Operations Department (COD).

The fonds also contains a smaller amount of records related to the Montreal Protocol (MP) and the MLF. Included are correspondence and reports related to Bank-managed or executed projects performed under the MP as well as agendas, minutes, reports and correspondence related to meetings and coordination activities. The majority of the meeting records are Executive Committee records. Also included in this fonds are chronological files of the ENVGC from between 1996 and 2003 that relate specifically to the Montreal Protocol.

The fonds also contains records evidencing liaison activities of ENV. Communications with NGOs, Bank Regions, funding and collaborating agencies, and other external national and international agencies and institutions are included.

A diverse group of records created by the Environment Department's Carbon Finance Unit (ENVCF) are also found in this fonds. Carbon finance-related activities began in the Department in the late 1990s and support the World Bank's role as trustee of carbon funds that deliver greenhouse gas emission reductions to government and private sector participants. Records related to the ENVCF date from the late 1990s to early 2000s and include: chronological files; materials from Bank-organized and external conferences and seminars; organization and management records; public relations materials in the form of press releases, newspaper clippings, website printouts, and correspondence; ENVCF manuals, publications, and handbooks; briefing books for senior officials containing correspondence and memoranda, briefings, meeting agendas and minutes, reports and comments, and numerous files related to the Prototype Carbon Fund (PCF); records related to Activities Implemented Jointly (AIJ) projects and trust fund cycle records; and correspondence related to trust fund programs and management.

Subject files created by the Environment Department's Director (ENVDR) dating from the mid-1990s are included in this fonds. Files contain correspondence and memoranda, meeting minutes, press releases, project information, and reports and research papers. Records originating in the Land, Water and Natural Habitats Division (ENVLW) of the Environment Department are also included. These include Division Chief chronological files from 1993 and centralized chronological files from 1991-1993. The former is limited to correspondence and memoranda while the latter includes a small number of reports in addition to correspondence.

Central chronological files of the entire Department are also included from August, 1992, to December, 1995. These records consist of correspondence between divisions, ESD departments, and other Bank Vice Presidencies and units. Records relate to: support and review of Bank projects; research projects; GEF activities; Departmental personnel and staffing; internal and external meetings; cross support; training for Bank staff relating to Environmental management; and staff conference attendance and participation. Copies of reports including ENV Divisional working papers and World Bank Environment papers are also included.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


Accruals are expected.

System of arrangement

The following arrangement is provisional. Records are arranged into thirteen series:

  • Environment Department Director (ENVDR) subject files

  • Environment Department central chronological files

  • Environment Department's Carbon Finance Unit (ENVCF) records

  • Land, Water and Natural Habitats Division (ENVLW) chronological files

  • Environment Department Global Environment Unit (ENVGC) Global Environment Facility (GEF) project files

  • Environment Department Global Environment Unit (ENVGC) Global Environment Facility (GEF) liaison files

  • Environment Department Global Environment Unit (ENVGC) Global Environment Facility (GEF) policy development and review records

  • Environment Department Global Environment Unit (ENVGC) Global Environment Facility (GEF) meetings and conferences

  • Environment Department Global Environment Unit (ENVGC) Global Environment Facility (GEF) budget and work program records

  • Environment Department Global Environment Unit (ENVGC) Global Environment Facility (GEF) chronological files

  • Environment Department Global Environment Unit (ENVGC) Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol (MLF) project files

  • Environment Department Global Environment Unit (ENVGC) Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol (MLF) meetings and conferences

  • Environment Department Global Environment Unit (ENVGC) Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol (MLF) chronological files

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Records are subject to the World Bank Policy on Access to Information.

Conditions governing reproduction

Records are subject to the Copyright Policy of the World Bank Group.

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

While a finding aid specific for the records of this fonds does not exist, researchers who are interested in operational projects (loans, credits, grants, and trust funds) within the environment sector are encouraged to reference the Projects and Operations Database on-line. The Projects and Operations Database search can be narrowed to include only those projects within the environment theme, and contains some final reports specific to each project. Should researchers wish to access the archival records related to these projects, cite the Project ID number when making a request.

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

for correspondence of Dr. James Lee including when he was director of the Office of Environmental and Health Affairs (OEHA) that were originally maintained in the Non-Regional Information Center (NRIC). Records relate to Lee's and Dr. Arlene Fonahoff's involvement with the WHO / United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) / Bank Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Disease (TDR) and the Diarrheal Diseases Control (CDD) Programme.

  • See various Regional Vice Presidency fonds for records related to environmental Technical Assistance units located in Regional Technical Departments. Records relate to region- and country- specific sector studies and planning, operational support, stafftraining, and the provision of advice and materials to Bank staff, clients, and donors.

Related descriptions

Notes area

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Description identifier

Institution identifier

Rules and/or conventions used

Internal World Bank Group Archives rules based on ISAD(G).

Disclosure status

Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion

7 June 2012




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