World Bank misses historic opportunity
Washington DC, August 3, 2004 — The World Bank Group today refused to improve the way it operates. The Bank’s Board decided to act upon only very few among many concrete steps recommended by a key report.
Friends of the Earth International
Background and photo gallery
The Extractive Industries Review (EIR), commissioned by World Bank President James Wolfensohn, recently concluded that financial support for projects in the oil, mining and gas sectors have not led to direct poverty alleviation. The EIR made specific recommendations to improve the World Bank’s policies and practices. 
However, in a Board meeting today, World Bank Management and its Board failed to respond with concrete commitments to change the way the Bank operates and ensure poverty reduction results from its investments.
“The World Bank has ignored the EIR recommendations and endorsed business as usual,” said Jon Sohn of Friends of the Earth US. “The EIR called for an ‘extreme energy makeover,’ and the World Bank opted for a cheap pedicure. It has missed a historic opportunity to bring its lending more in line with its mission to alleviate poverty.”
The EIR report is a result of three years of investigation paid for by the World Bank, and initiated after Friends of the Earth addressed Mr Wolfensohn at the institution’s annual meetings in 2000.
The report made many recommendations which had the broad support of civil society organizations as well as many in industry. These included respecting human rights, establishing a consent mechanism for affected communities, protecting areas of high biodiversity and ending financing for oil and coal projects. The World Bank only took some small steps in response, such as requiring revenue transparency and disclosure of information.
“The World Bank’s response is a deep insult for those affected by its projects.” said Samuel Nguiffo of Friends of the Earth Cameroon. “The Bank’s Chad-Cameroon Oil Pipeline shows why the EIR recommendations are so fundamental. The project is pregnant with as many undisclosed scandals as there is sand on the beach”.
The World Bank refers to the Chad-Cameroon Oil Pipeline as a model for poverty alleviation, although it is quickly becoming a model for misery. The Chadian government spent a portion of the first proceeds on military expenditures, worker’s rights have been violated, people lost their livelihoods as a result of pollution, and impact mitigation plans lack proper implementation.
“Oil projects like the Chad-Cameroon pipeline generate more tears than smiles. The Bank’s response to the EIR means they have not learned a single lesson from such tragedies”, added Mr Nguiffo.
“The EIR provided a historic opportunity to do things better, but the World Bank dramatically failed to grab it,” said Janneke Bruil in Amsterdam .
“Billions of misspent public dollars and sixty years of outcries by people around the world have not been enough. What more does it take?” Friends of the Earth International –the world’s largest grassroots environmental federation with 68 national member groups in as many countries and more than one million individual members– is strongly committed to non-violence.
for more information contact
In Washington , DC : Jon Sohn +1-720-308-7482 or
In Europe : Janneke Bruil, Coordinator International Financial Institutions Programme, Amsterdam , +31 6 52 118 998 or
In Cameroon : Samuel Nguiffo of Friends of the Earth Cameroon + 237-222 38 57 or
notes to editors :
 For more information on the The Extractive Industries Review see http://www.worldbank.org/ogmc/