Irin News 16 September The Ecologist
The World Bank is considering ‘reforms’ to its policies to protect indigenous peoples from the impacts of projects it finances that would devolve key decisions to national governments – such as whether an ethnic group is ‘indigenous’ at all. If passed by the Bank’s Board, the changes would strip away a raft of essential human rights protections..
Setting the standard is something an institution as powerful and influential as the World Bank should be considering as mandatory, rather than optional.
Activists are warning of a harmful regression in the World Bank’s safeguard policies, claiming that proposed changes being considered this autumn could weaken the rights of indigenous people, and others in danger of displacement and abuse as a result of Bank-funded development projects.
“This [version of the safeguards] will be dangerous backsliding into their bad legacy of treatment against indigenous people if it is approved”, said Joan Carling, secretary-general of the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP), a network that operates in 14 Asian countries.
According to the World Bank, “the proposed Environmental and Social Framework builds on the decades-old safeguard policies and aims to consolidate them into a more modern, unified framework that is more efficient and effective to apply and implement.”