Latin American civil society must act urgently faced with the risk of the weakening of environmental and social safeguards by the World Bank. Greater clarifications regarding the weakening of these standards and the responses from organizations in civil society.
A leaked draft of the new framework of policy safeguards for the World Bank makes evident what civil society has feared since the start of this revision process in the year 2012: a clear risk of the weakening of the environmental and social standards meant to protect people and the environment from negative impacts caused by projects financed by the World Bank.
Although the draft presents some secondary advances, it is clear that the new regime of proposed institutional safeguards represents a step backwards regarding socio-environmental standards. It will practically destroy a whole generation of achievements and advances for civil society and the communities affected by these advances. At the same time it represents a dangerous precedent for other Financial Institutions acting in the region, such as the IDB(Inter-American Development Bank) and the ADC(Andean Development Corporation/Latin American Development Bank), which often see the World Bank as a “role model”.
Nonetheless, it is not too late to act, since the Executive Directors of the Bank will meet next July 30th to decide if the framework advances to the next phase (second round of review) or should be returned to the Bank Management for modifications. Therefore it is of incredible urgency that Latin-American civil society contact the regional Executive Directors who will be meeting next July 30th to express their worries related to the framework of new safeguards and to demand that it be sent back to the Management for revisions.
Following are the contact details for the Executive Directors representing countries in the region:
- Director for Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay: César Guido Forcieri (Argentine) – E-mail: [email protected]
- Director for Mexico, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Spain: Juan José Bravo Moisés (Mexican) – E-Mail: [email protected]
- Director for Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Dominican Republic and others: Roberto Tan (Filipino) – E-Mail: [email protected]. Deputy: Rogerio Studart (Brazilian) – E-Mail: [email protected]
Some organizations from civil society have already communicated with the Executive Directors and functionaries of the World Bank to express their concern about these possible changes. In a comunication sent last July 24th, such opposition to the framework was expressed. For example, they made points about “the flexibility of basic requirements for the World Bank regarding management and evaluation of environmental risks and impacts prior to project approval. The new proposal puts off the evaluation of risks and impacts until implementation unless it is a condition of project approval”.
FUNDEPS has been tracking the revision process for the Bank’s safeguards, and has held a series of meetings on the issue in recent months (see here). Despite having unsuccessfully tried to contact Executive Director César Guido Forcieri (Argentine) on numerous occasions, we will try again to contact him to express our concern over the new safeguard policies and the need to revise them.
– Statement from Bank Information Center (BIC) – “El Paquetazo: The World bank threatens to weaken its safeguards and create an opening for greater flexibility of worldwide social and environmental standards.”
Gonzalo Roza-Global Governability Program Coordinator
Translated by James Cochran