World Bank group postpones consultation after NGO protest
BERLIN – The World Bank Group today decided to postpone a consultation meeting scheduled for Wednesday after Friends of the Earth and others announced it would protest publicly about the meeting.
Friends of the Earth International
The German development ministry informed Friends of the Earth that the consultation was postponed because of the ‘announced boycott by non-governmental organisations’.
The Berlin meeting was to be one in a series of consultations for a revision process of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the World Bank’s private sector lending arm, which Friends of the Earth believes will weaken social and environmental standards.
The Berlin consultation followed consultations in London today and earlier meetings in Washington, Rio de Janeiro, Tokyo and Manila where Friends of the Earth member groups boycotted the consultations and staged protests. The decision to postpone the meeting in Berlin came only hours after a meeting in London was attended by only one civil society organization and German organizations announced a protest action for Wednesday.
Friends of the Earth International, the world’s largest environmental federation, rejected invitations to the meetings after the World Bank refused to act upon a civil society letter demanding basic process requirements for the consultation meetings.
“This whole consultation process is a sham. There is too little time and too little information available. The meetings are effectively no more than a World Bank public relations exercise. They provide no venue for meaningful consultation, especially for those most affected by IFC operations”, said Friends of the Earth/BUND spokesperson, Markus Steigenberger in Berlin.
The World Bank Group’s binding set of so called Safeguard Policies, which cover issues such as pollution and treatment of indigenous peoples, were established to protect people and the environment from harmful impacts of its projects. The policies will be replaced with voluntary ‘Performance Standards’. The IFC itself acknowledges that its proposals could become a benchmark for both private and public financiers.
“The IFC is sacrificing its social and environmental norms to meet industry demands’, said Mr Steigenberger. “But they are supposed to protect people and the environment. How can the World Bank Group justify weakening rather than improving its social and environmental standards?”
Friends of the Earth and other organizations have proposals to improve the policies and practices of the IFC. These proposals include that the standards should be strong, clear and binding, that local people should be able to have a decisive say in projects and that the IFC should be subject to international law.
The IFC review process: http://www.ifc.org/ifcext/policyreview.nsf/Content/SafeguardPolicesUpdate
Civil society concerns with the process and suggestions to the IFC: http://www.grrr-now.org/?action=showdoc&typedoc=1&menu=24
Markus Steigenberger (BUND/ Friends of the Earth Germany): + 49 173-9234747
Janneke Bruil (Friends of the Earth International): + 31 6 52 118 998
Hannah Ellis (Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland):
+ 44 7952 876929
Lodel Magbanua (LRC/Friends of the Earth Philippines): +63 2 9281372