World Bank: Contradictory Policy


I’m bit late in spotting this little news item but not too late for it to be a relevant and important  issue.  It seems that the Word Bank‘s pledge to help the trees is little more than hot air.

It’s been acknowledged that deforestation is the second biggest factor in climate change and at last years Bali summit, the World bank launched a . . . “groundbreaking financing mechanism to combat tropical deforestation and climate change

So far, so good? 

Well apart from the fact that the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility initiative will allow the rainforests to be included in the dubious carbon offsetting schemes that make it easier for industrialised countries to buy their way out of eco-responsibility, it’s emerged that the World Bank shows no signs of ending it’s funding of the rainforest’s biggest threat – cattle ranching. 

The widespread growth of cattle ranching is largely in response to increasing global demands for beef and is said to be the biggest threat to the survival of the rainforests. To the detriment of the local people, it is the wealthy landowners that prosper – they gain their land by exploitative and corrupt means. This process of corruption is similar to that covered by Matt in his post on China’s desertification policy.

The World Bank website hypocritically states that . . . “The Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) was developed because forests are more important left standing than cut.”  . . .  while it continues to aid cattle ranching which is responsible for clearing vast amounts of rainforest hence destroying eco-systems and disrupting or destroying the habitats of many species.

Cattle ranching is lucrative but unsustainable . . . and very destructive.  The World Bank should be investing in sustainable development programmes that directly benefit the indigenous people rather than promoting globalisation and embracing anti-poor policies that make the rich richer and the planet poorer. 


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10 Responses to World Bank: Contradictory Policy

  1. matt says:

    You’ve just gone and blown my recently (over the last few years) adjusted vision of The World Bank, which had allowed itself to see The Bank in a slightly more positive light. This had been mainly to do with my study of a little known World Bank institution called the Global Environment Facility (GEF) which is the largest funder in the world of environmental projects within the developing world. Their latest tranch of money comes to some $4b over the next 3-4 years I believe.

    Clearly however there are conflicts of interest within the Bank although I should stress here that the GEF operates somewhat independently from the main body of the Bank. This from The Independent article caught my eye;
    This vital resource faces three main dangers: the expansion of the soya industry, driven by high prices for animal feed; the surge in sugarcane plantations to feed the sudden and insatiable global appetite for bio-fuels; and the traditional threat of cattle ranching, underestimated in recent years as soya and sugarcane have received more attention. As did this, There are increasing signs that the strain placed on the Amazon’s eco-system could lead to an irreversible breakdown Last month the WWF predicted that the combination of drought and fire could wipe out the Amazon by 2030, with disastrous consequences for the world.

    It is unbelieveable in the day and age with all the NGOs, satelite systems, the internet, 24hr media and world conferences on these matters (ie. all the awareness of the impacts of this forest destruction) that this is still going on, particularly at the scale we are seeing. It is lunacy. It is criminal. There should be a court set up in The Hague to try people for vast environmental crimes. It does appear that these institutions know they are being watched and are now in a race to plunder resources before enough momentum is brought to halt these criminal acts.

    Btw, the World Bank loves to monitor what is being said about them. Our stats show popping by to see us several times today. To read a little about their monitoring service read this.

    So, to you World Bank and specifically to those individuals that sign off these forest destruction policies and monies, let it be known that you have committed a crime and we will be working towards your day in the courts.

  2. earthpal says:

    Abolutely Matt.

    The World Bank was supposedly created to reduce poverty but too many members are serving their own agenda.

    Now and then it pledges to clean up its performance but things always remain the same. We should demand accountability and transparency from the World Bank. And most importantly . . . real progress!

  3. matt says:

    Time to have a chat with our journalist friends over in Europe who monitor EU policy. Also contacting DFID for their response.

  4. Dan says:

    If the Bank provides financial support to farmers that cut down forests, that does sound like contradictory policy. I’m not sure that the FCPF is designed to help us buy our way out of eco-responsibility though – it is supposed to be a mechanism to chanel money from Europe and other emissions markets to developing countries that need to get some revenue from preserving their forests. Also note that the type of credits generated in the FCPF scheme will not be fully tradable with emissions allowances – so the vast majority of reductions to meet developed countries’ targets will have to be delivered by domestic organisations.

  5. matt says:

    Hi Dan

    Yes this is more your area of expertise. I understand from what you’re saying is that the funding from the WB to set up the FCPF is more an administrative and enabling role (correct?).

    It’s the second bit I’m not clear on (ie. how it will work with ETS and the like?)

    Btw, I believe the WB funding has been going to slaughter houses, which ties in with the ranches who utilise cleared forestry land.

  6. Dan says:

    Hi Matt – you’re right on the first point; the Bank is not proposing to put money into the FCPF directly – the vision is for Northern states & NGOs to put money in (like aid) and Southern states can sell credits (offsets) generated by forestry to the fund. There is currently no connection to the EU ETS or other emissions markets – so the credits are effectively retired by the fund.

    The UN verifies offsets so that they can be traded in markets like the EU ETS as ‘certified emissions reductions’, but offsets generated by projects do not qualify. Hence the FCPF. A connection in the future between the EU ETS or similar and the FCPF will mean that the FCPF will not require aid funding – and the targets used in the emissions markets can reduce (as there will be a greater supply of offset credits).

    Earthpal – are you blogging here now?

  7. Dan says:

    Sorry – when i said “offsets generated by projects do not qualify”, i meant “offsets generated by *forestry* projects …

  8. matt says:

    Hi Dan

    My feeling is that this scheme needs mega funding in order to save huge areas of forest from being chopped down. I believe including the protection of forests within the EU ETS and other similar schemes might well be the only way of injecting vast amounts of cash into something like the FCPF.

    It’s needs billions not millions otherwise the World Bank is just pissing into the wind. 🙂

  9. earthpal says:

    Hi Dan, yes I’m an occassional guest blogger here.

    Re. the FCPF, I was under the impression that this initiative would allow tropical forests to be included in carbon offsetting schemes. In my book, that results in Western companies being able to buy their way out of emissions reductions which in turn, makes the whole scheme futile due to lack of actual emissions reductions.

    An enlightening article here endorsed by FoE and many other credible groups:

  10. matt says:

    From your link EP; the NGOs say they want to see governments …

    *Ensure that developing countries are assisted in their efforts to protect their forests with well targeted, predictable and sufficient financial and other support, in the form of an international fund that rewards the complete rather than partial cessation of deforestation; supports policies that promote community-based forest management and reforestation, natural regeneration and ecosystem restoration; and finances a global forest fire fighting fund and expertise, to assist countries unable to prevent or stop out-of-control forest fires.

    * Redirect the very substantial amounts of public funds, tax exemptions and other forms of subsidies currently provided to the fossil fuel and agrofuels industries, into avoided deforestation assistance funds, the effective promotion of public transport and the development of solar, wind, geothermal, wave and energy efficiency technologies, (Government spending on energy subsidies currently totals US$250 billion per year.)

    What they don’t give in the article are examples of where the CDM has failed or hard evidence why carbon trading funds shouldn’t be used. They probably could show examples but they haven’t within the article. There have been examples I’ve read of and the CDM has been criticised for lack of personnel and relying on companies to ratify their own CDM projects. Apparently staffing is now better and ratification is done by them.

    I do take their point about using fossil and biofuel subsidies for forest conservation instead. Where however a capitalist in the EU or the US will disagree with this approach is with the fact that transfering use of the subsidies in this way transfers jobs from the ‘west’ to the developing world. Corporates and their governments don’t like that idea!

    How does one unlock that little conundrum?!

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