LIMA (PERU) – This week, at the opening of the Inter-American Development Bank annual meeting in Lima, IDB President Iglesias expressed optimism about the region´s development, while only briefly touching upon increasing poverty, unemployment and inequity.

“President Iglesias seems to be on another planet”, said Janneke Bruil, Financial Institutions Campaign Coordinator of Friends of the Earth International in response. Just after Iglesias´ speech, an NGO press conference room was blocked by security for 30 minutes.

Mr. Iglesias reiterated his commitment to the initiative for the Regional Infrastructure Integration of South America IIRSA, an infrastructure scheme of unprecedented magnitude. ´IIRSA is accompanied by a package of archaic mega-projects through which we will witness the final destruction of all the tremendous riches of the region including its biodiversity, its waters, its cultures´, said Oscar Rivas, Director of Sobrevivencia, Friends of the Earth Paraguay.

Civil society in Lima released a new comparative study, giving the IDB an ´F´ for its new draft environmental policy. Social and environmental standards of the Interamerican Development Bank (IDB) are lagging far behind those used at its sister institution the World Bank. `Even the major private banks have now signed on to World Bank standards, which should be regarded an absolute minimum. If the IDB is serious about its mission of poverty alleviation, it must dramatically transform its policies and practices´, commented Ms Bruil.

The IDB has come under fierce criticism for its lending to major infrastructure and extractive industry projects. The Bank is currently considering whether to continue a 2.6 billion dollar loan for the controversial Camisea gas project in Peru, put on hold as a result of major problems, including illness and death among indigenous peoples.

While Peruvian president Toledo advocated increasing participation and strengthening democracy, NGO press advisories were removed and the entrance to the NGO room temporarily blocked by Peruvian security guards. NGO representatives attempting to distribute the advisories were searched, followed and harassed. IDB accredited NGOs were not allowed to use any regular press facilities and were therefore forced to schedule a press conference in a small NGO room in a basement.


Janneke Bruil or Oscar Rivas: +31-6-301 65 093