Category Archives: World Bank

New World Bank ‘light touch’ rules abandon ecological protections, allow borrowers to opt out of indigenous rights

 

Villagers walk through recently cleared forest inside a HAGL rubber plantation in 2013. Source: Phnom Penh Post

Villagers walk through recently cleared forest inside a HAGL rubber plantation in 2013. Source: Phnom Penh Post

John Vidal of the Guardian recently reported on a leaked draft of the World Bank’s proposed new ‘light touch’ lending policies, weakening safeguards put in place after disastrous projects drew global criticism to it in the 1980s and 1990s.

According to Vidal, the new relaxed policies would allow for logging and mining in before protected areas as long as ecological “off-sets” are put in place and would not require consultation with indigenous peoples before projects like tree plantations or mega-dams begin on their land.

Moreover, Vidal writes,

Under the proposed new “light touch” rules, the result of a two year consultation within the bank, borrowers will be allowed to opt out of signing up to employment safeguards, existing protection for biodiversity will be shredded, countries will be allowed to assess themselves, and harmful projects are much more likely to occur…

Most shocking is the opt-out option on indigenous rights:

a proposed loophole for governments to opt out of applying the bank’s policy on indigenous peoples, jeopardising the rights of hunter-gatherer communities such as the pygmies of the Congo rainforest.

The Bank Information Center, a World Bank watchdog group, further explains the meaning of the proposed new policies.

On off-sets:

Meanwhile, the introduction of “biodiversity offsets” into previous “no-go” areas substantially weakens existing protections for critical natural habitats and protected areas, based on the shaky premise that destruction to these areas can be compensated or “offset” by agreements to preserve habitats elsewhere in perpetuity.

On gutted assessment:

The elimination of clear, predictable rules also appears to be a clear attempt by the Bank to avoid accountability for the negative impacts of projects that it funds.

Finally, the BIC writes:

As the World Bank asks us to trust them, the string of broken promises, the climate of secrecy in preparing the proposal, and an underfunded safeguard staffing structure in utter disarray, provide little reassurance that these policies will be implemented in an effective way to prevent negative impacts to project affected communities and the environment.

Safeguards are only as good as the institution itself: Even with these safeguards in place, the World Bank has backed projects that are ecologically and ethically unsound. The above photo, for example, comes from a story from April on an investigation of the World Bank funding illegal land grabbing. Other such stories can be easily found on Climate Connections.

Rather than ushering in a new period, these policies seem more like the real face of the Bank peeking through.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Indigenous Peoples, World Bank

Cambodia: World Bank investigates over ‘land-grabbing link’

By Amelia Woodside, April 23, 2014. Source: Phnom Penh Post

Villagers walk through recently cleared forest inside a HAGL rubber plantation in 2013. Source: Phnom Penh Post

Villagers walk through recently cleared forest inside a HAGL rubber plantation in 2013. Source: Phnom Penh Post

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) has launched an internal investigation into a complaint lodged against the institution for investing in a Vietnamese rubber firm accused of illegal logging and land grabbing in Ratanakkiri, an NGO and villager said yesterday.

Earlier this month, representatives of the IFC’s Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO) met with leaders from 17 indigenous communities in Andong Meas and O’Chum districts, along with representatives of Vietnam-based Hoang Anh Gia Lai (HAGL), which operates rubber plantations on economic land concessions in the Kingdom’s northeast, according to Eang Vuthy, executive director at NGO Equitable Cambodia.

“This was a preliminary visit . . . the IFC met with community leaders [and] government officials at the company.

We’re very hopeful a resolution between the parties will be reached. They say the company HAGL is willing to negotiate, so we’re hoping for a positive course of action once the IFC releases their report,” Vuthy told the Post yesterday. Continue reading

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Filed under Biodiversity, Corporate Globalization, Forests, Land Grabs, World Bank

Ngäbe-Buglé challenge constitutionality of land seizures, protest camps targeted by high-powered lamps

By Robin Llewellyn, April 9, 2014. Source: Intercontinental Cry

ngabe1

All photos by Robin Llewellyn

The controversial Barro Blanco dam project will face another challenge today when the Cacica Silvia Carrera presents a demand of unconstitutionality before Panama’s Supreme Court of Justice regarding Law 18, passed on March 26, 2013.

With Article 127 of the Panamanian Constitution protecting collective ownership of lands and prohibiting private ownership of indigenous territories, Law 18 was rushed into place by President Ricardo Martinelli to allow the legal appropriation of collective lands, particularly lands held by the Ngäbe communities of Nuevo Palomar, Kiad, and Quebrada Caña. All three communities face land seizures as a result of the dam’s construction.

Genisa, the Panamanian company developing Barro Blanco, initially argued that no land within the Ngäbe-Buglé Comarca would be affected by the 28.85 MW dam project; but then claimed that the indigenous communities had consented to the dispossession of their territories. The project has been approved by the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism, and is supported by the Inter-American Development Bank, the Dutch state development bank FMO, and the German development bank DEG.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Hydroelectric dams, Indigenous Peoples, UNFCCC, World Bank

World Bank’s new agriculture project threatens food security, warn experts

By Sam Jones, March 31, 2014. Source: The Guardian

The World Bank's agriculture-focused ranking system may encourage land grabs, say supporters of the Our Land; Our Business campaign. Photograph: AFP/Getty

The World Bank’s agriculture-focused ranking system may encourage land grabs, say supporters of the Our Land; Our Business campaign. Photograph: AFP/Getty

World Bank pilot project designed to measure and improve agricultural productivity will jeopardise food security in developing countries and create a “one-size-fits-all model of development where corporations reign supremely”, according to a coalition of thinktanks and NGOs.

An international campaign – Our Land; Our Business – is urging the Bank to abandon its Benchmarking the Business of Agriculture (BBA) programme, claiming it will serve only to encourage corporate land grabs and undermine the smallholder farmers who produce 80% of the food consumed in the developing world.

The campaign, whose signatories include the US-based Oakland Institute thinktank and the Pan-African Institute for Consumer Citizenship and Development, argues that the Bank’s attempts to adapt its ease-of-doing-business rankings to the agricultural sector will sow poverty “by putting the interests of foreign investors before those of locals”. Continue reading

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Filed under Africa, Corporate Globalization, Food Sovereignty, Industrial agriculture, Land Grabs, World Bank

World’s biggest coal company, world’s biggest PR firm pair up to promote coal for poor people

Note: Looks like Peabody coal is taking this one right out of the UN’s “Sustainable Energy For All” playbook.  Pushing for more coal plants under the guise of reducing “energy poverty.”

-The GJEP Team

By Kate Sheppard, March 27, 2014. Source: Huffington Post

Photo: AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

Photo: AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

Peabody Energy Corp., the world’s largest private-sector coal company, launched a public relations and advertising campaign last month extolling the virtues of coal energy for poor people.

A Peabody press release announcing the campaign, called Advanced Energy for Life, argues that lack of access to energy is “the world’s number one human and environmental crisis.”

To enter the campaign website, readers encounter a drop-in screen that asks them to agree or disagree with the statement, “Access to low-cost energy improves our lives.” The site notes that there are 3.5 billion people in the world “without adequate energy” — 1.2 billion of them children. A video titled “Energy Poverty” features babies and small children, with text that implores, “We can solve this crisis.” It adds: “Affordable energy leads to better health.”

Peabody’s proposal to solve this crisis? Asking the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to stop setting pollution limits on coal-fired power plants. Those pollution rules are meant to address climate change caused by greenhouse-gas emissions, a global problem that has the greatest effect on poor countries. Burning coal generates carbon emissions as well as hazardous pollutants such as mercury, lead, and benzene, according to the American Lung Association.
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Filed under Coal, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Mountaintop Removal, Pollution, World Bank

The World Bank’s role in climate and energy finance

By Chris Lang, February 25, 2014. Source: REDD Monitor

Protest against the World Bank's involvement in the Green Climate Fund at 2011 UN climate negotiations in Durban, South Africa.  Source: Flickr/Friends of the Earth International

Protest against the World Bank’s involvement in the Green Climate Fund at 2011 UN climate negotiations in Durban, South Africa. Source: Flickr/Friends of the Earth International

Bruce Rich’s excellent new book about the World Bank, features two chapters about the Bank’s role in climate and energy finance. Rich describes this as “arguably the most critical and intractable development issue facing the Bank and the world at large as global warming accelerates”.

Foreclosing the Future: The World Bank and the Politics of Environmental Destruction builds on Rich’s 1994 book, Mortgaging the Earth. Unfortunately, in the intervening years, the Bank has learned few lessons and continues to finance socially and environmentally destructive projects. The Bank’s role on climate change has been to cook up carbon trading schemes which not only fail to address climate change, they actually make matters worse.

This post looks at Rich’s chapters: “The Carbon Caravan” and “A Market Like No Other”. A forthcoming post will focus on Rich’s analysis of the World Bank’s role in REDD.

The World Bank didn’t produce a climate strategy until 2008 – 16 years after the Rio Summit and the negotiation of the UNFCCC. Perhaps surprisingly the climate strategy did not recommend a stop to funding climate damaging projects. Instead, Bank management decided that, Continue reading

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Filed under Carbon Trading, Climate Change, Coal, False Solutions to Climate Change, Green Economy, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests, World Bank

World Bank, Chinese investors push mega-dam on Congo River

By Carey Biron, February 11, 2014. Source: Inter Press Service

The Inga III dam would be the first in a series of hydroelectric installations along the Congo River, collectively referred to as the Grand Inga project. Photo: alaindg/GNU license

The Inga III dam would be the first in a series of hydroelectric installations along the Congo River, collectively referred to as the Grand Inga project. Photo: alaindg/GNU license

WASHINGTON – Watchdog groups here are warning that a deal has been struck that would see Chinese investors fund a massive, contentious dam on the Congo River, the first phase of a project that could eventually be the largest hydroelectric project in the world.

Discussions around the Inga III dam proposal, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), have been taking place in some form for decades. They have picked up speed over the past year, however, under the auspices of the World Bank, the Washington-based development funder.

On Tuesday, the bank’s board of directors were to have voted on an initial 73-million-dollar loan for the project, to be offered through the International Development Association (IDA), the institution’s programme for the world’s poorest countries. Last week, however, that vote was abruptly postponed.

Now, civil society groups are reporting that the project may be going forward instead under the World Bank’s private-sector arm, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), with the backing of Chinese investors. Yet critics, who have long worried about the local social and environmental impact of the Inga project, worry that greater involvement by the private sector will result in skewed prioritisation of beneficiaries. Continue reading

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Filed under Africa, Corporate Globalization, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Green Economy, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests, Water, World Bank

Kenya: Preparing for REDD in the Embobut Forest and forcing Sengwer People “into extinction”

January 31, 2014. Source: No REDD in Africa Network

Forest guards arrive in Kenya's Embobut Forest in preparation for the evictions.  Photo: Forest Peoples Programme

Forest guards arrive in Kenya’s Embobut Forest in preparation for the evictions. Photo: Forest Peoples Programme

Last year the Government of Kenya was getting “ready” for REDD in the Embobut Forest, now it is violently evicting the Sengwer People and forcing them “into extinction.” According to Survival International, “as many as a thousand homes have already been torched.”[i]

Sengwer spokesman Yator Kiptum denounced the “disaster” caused by combined force of the Kenya Forest Service and Administration Police, a paramilitary unit of the police, which is now evicting the Sengwer not just from the Embobut Forest but from the entirety of the Cherangany Hills, destroying property and burning homes. “The government of Kenya is forcing us into extinction,” he said.[ii]

Sengwer houses being burnt by Kenya Forest Service guards on January 16, 2014. Source: Forest Peoples Programme

Sengwer houses being burnt by Kenya Forest Service guards on January 16, 2014. Source: Forest Peoples Programme

The extension of the evictions to all other areas in the Cherangany Hills forest complex to include Kapolet and Lelan/Kamolokon “means the removal of the entire population of Sengwer indigenous people living in the Cherangany Hills from their ancestral lands.”[iii] Some13,500 Sengwer live in the Cherangany Hills in Kenya’s Northern Rift Valley, and are one of the few hunter-gatherer groups left in eastern Africa.[iv]

According to Forest Peoples Programme, the Sengwer are not squatters. “The Sengwer have their rights to their ancestral forest lands enshrined in the Constitution and international law.” [v] The Sengwer obtained court orders to prevent further evictions to no avail. Continue reading

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Filed under Africa, Carbon Trading, Climate Change, Commodification of Life, Corporate Globalization, False Solutions to Climate Change, Food Sovereignty, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, Green Economy, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, REDD, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests, World Bank