action on world bank 60th birthday, july 2004
the Global Day of Action on J-22, 2004 called for the World Bank to:
- give communities the right to decide their own development path;
- stop investing in oil, mining and gas;
- respect human rights;
- exclude large dams from renewables initiatives;
- operate in full transparency;
- cancel 100% of impoverished country debt.
On July 22 2004, the World Bank celebrated its 60th birthday. That day marked 60 years of failed policies, 60 years of misguided loans, 60 years of increasing debt, and 60 years of dubious development projects. Read about the background .
The Global Action Day Against the World Bank (22 July) in Indonesia Aksi was marked by several mass rallies in the major cities of Jakarta, Yogyakarta , Makassar , and Riau. Approximately one thousand people participated in the Jakarta Rally, making it the largest action in Indonesia .
Protestors in Jakarta brought forward stories, facts, and figures of how all the institution's numerous macro economic policies subjected to Indonesia (and other Third World countries) have resulted in massive odious debts. Debts that the already impoverished nations must suffer directly through the rise in prices of basic social goods and services. Protestors demanded the World Bank to cancel 100% of all debts to Indonesia.
Community members and activists from numerous Jakarta-based civil society organisations gathered and departed from the Hotel Indonesia roundabout heading for the World Bank's Jakarta office located 3 kilometers away at the Jakarta Stock Exchange Building on Jalan Sudirman.
Around 60 activists from WALHI-FoE Indonesia organized and participated in the protest to voice the demand that the World Bank comply to the recommendations of the Extractive Industries Review and keep out of oil, gas and mining industries.
DFID (The Department for International Development) represent the UK at the World Bank. Demonstrators gathered outside their office in London on the 60th Anniversary of the World Bank. Friends of the Earth along with Rising Tide, Christian and others were calling on DFID to Wake Up! Shake Up the World Bank! To help DFID staff wake up, protestors had a giant alarm clock outside the building making noisy alarm sounds and handed out cups of coffee-with-a-message to DFID staff.
Mr. Hilary Benn, Secretary of State for
International Development (the government
minister in charge of DFID) came out to have
a cup of coffee and talk to demonstrators.
Hilary Benn explained that he agreed with a
lot of what the protestors were saying. He
said he would make an announcement in
parliament soon about the World Bank's
Extractive Industries Review.
(see also www.foe.co.uk/campaigns/corporates/news/coffee_wake_up.html )
Indigenous people from Bolivia protesting in a march against the World bank
More than hundred indigenous people from 22 communities affected by COMSUR operations in the south of Potosí, marched along the streets holding banners against COMSUR and its partner: the WB. They said the project is the main source for generating more poverty, contamination and rural migration, They had the support of representatives of the District of Oruro de la Nación Sora, Marka la Joya and Jacha Karanqas. Also people from Federación de Ayllus del Norte Potosí, from the Comité de Defensa del Río Pilcomayo, and indigenous people “chiquitanas” communities who are also affected by COMSUR operations in Puquio Norte and the Don Mario Mine, participated. This march is a true symbol of the disagreement of Bolivian indigenous communities to World Bank policies.
The march stopped in front of the Potosí Cathedral, where a meeting was organized calling for the unity of the affected communities. “We demand compensation for social and environmental damage”, said Jhonny Mendoza, representative of PC TURUBO, a community affected by the Don Mario Mine, Santa Cruz, Chiquitos.
The representative of the CODERIP (Committee for Defense of the Pilcomayo River ), Esteban Llanos, accused COMSUR of being the major cause of contamination of the Pilcomayo river (that runs down to Paraguay and Argentina as well), affecting the districts of Potosí, Chuquisaca and Tarija.
Representatives of the Sora Nation and of the Porco Basin did also accuse the “partners” (WB and COMSUR) for contamination that caused soil degradation and rural emigration. Nothing to celebrate, but a lot to protest!
The World Bank and oil, mining and gas: winds of change?
Following decades of world wide protest against the destructive impacts of large scale oil, mining and gas projects, of which mainly big corporations benefited, the World Bank decided to embark on a unique review of its operations. Three years of consultations, research and project visits within the framework of the Extractive Industries Review (EIR) led to a report that was published in December 2003. It suggests radical changes for World Bank practices and policies. However, World Bank management threatens to ignore most of these suggestions. A July 2004 decision will be a major test case for the Bank: is it ready to change or will it continue business as usual?
The debate over extractive industries in the developing world is often framed, particularly by international financial institutions such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, as a trade-off between environmental protection and economic growth. Increasingly, however, studies including the World Bank's own Extractive Industries Review, are concluding that not only are extractive industries not good for the environment , they are failing to produce economic gains for the poor. In other words, investing in the extractive sector has been shown to be inconsistent with the World Bank's goals of poverty alleviation and sustainable development.
In addition, there appears to be a link between extractive industries and debt in the developing world. Many oil-producing developing nations are also countries wracked with some of the worst external debt. “Six of the world's 25 most oil-dependent nations are classified by the World Bank as ‘highly-indebted poor countries' (HIPC) – the most troubled category of states”, according to an Oxfam analysis. The historical relationship between oil production and external debt, as well as contemporary examples of developing oil-producing nations, suggests that extractive industry development often perpetuates poverty and debt.
What did the EIR recommend?
The Extractive Industries Review recommended that the World Bank ask for the consent of affected communities before they embark on any oil, mining or gas projects. Furthermore, pipelines and mines should not be financed in countries whose governments are corrupt or untransparent, where there is armed conflict, or where human rights are not respected. This recommendation was repeated in a parallel report by the World Bank's own internal evaluation department. The EIR furthermore suggests that the Bank must protect areas of high biodiversity and ban oil and coal projects altogether. It also recommended a massive infusion of investment in renewable energy.
What does the World Bank say in response?
The World Bank management's response was
big on promises and small on
. It agrees with many of
the principles of the EIR report, but does
not explain how and when these will be
transformed into policies and practices. The
World Bank proposes a consultation process
instead of a consent process, says it will
‘consider' governance issues without
explaining what that means, and announces a
minimal target for renewable energy. The Bank is determined to continue
investing in oil and coal projects – even
those which are designed to fuel Northern
consumption - and defers the issue of human
rights to other discussions, simply because
the subject is too big.
This is not
What do we want?
The World Bank Board should commit to clear and concrete measures in line with the recommendations of their own reports and the calls from communities around the world.
The World Bank should phase out of oil, mining and gas, respect human rights and listen to the voices of the people it is supposed to serve. And to reduce the perceived need for cash strapped countries to drill and dig, the World Bank should immediately cancel 100% of impoverished country debt.
Read the press release about the Global Day of Action against the World Bank on J-22!
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