LEAKED DRAFT SUGGESTS WORLD BANK LENDING POLICIES "DISASTROUS"
The Guardian reported that plans by the World Bank to relax the conditions on which it lends up to $50 billion per year to developing countries have been condemned as potentially "disastrous" for the environment and likely to weaken protection of indigenous peoples and the poor. A leaked draft of the Bank's proposed new "safeguard policies," according to the Guardian, suggests that existing environmental and social protection will allow logging and mining in even the most ecologically sensitive areas, and that indigenous peoples will not have to be consulted before major projects like palm oil plantations or large dams palm go ahead on land which they traditionally occupy. According to World Bank watchdog groups including the Bank Information Centre, the Ulu Foundation, and the International Trade Union Confederation, borrowers will be allowed to opt out of signing up to employment safeguards, existing protection for biodiversity will be eased, countries will be allowed to assess themselves, and harmful projects are much more likely to occur, under the proposed new "light touch" rules, the result of a two-year consultation within the Bank. According to the groups, the Bank is proposing to relax most of the usual requirements to assess impacts on people and the environment when a project is being developed, leaving it up to governments and staff to use their own discretion. The leaked copy of the new policies will be discussed by the Bank's board this week. The Guardian reports that a vote will be taken on whether to send the draft for public comment. See http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jul/25/leaked-world-bank-lending-policies-environmentally-disastrous.