Easy World Bank loans on mining and power projects can harm biodiversity
ENVIRONMENTALISTS AND human rights campaigners have sounded the alarm about radical plans to ease conditions for World Bank loans. This will make available more than $50 billion of public money a year to large power, mining, transport and farming projects. Leaked e-mails seen by TheGuardian reveal that senior officials at the bank feared that lighttouch regulation would lead to an increase in "problem projects".
Ana Revenga, the bank's vice-president for poverty reduction, says in one of the e-mails: "It might appear that the bank is interested in lending number of problem projects and cancellations." The e-mail exchanges indicate that the bank may expand the use of "biodiversity offsetting", which lets developers destroy nature in one place if they compensate for it elsewhere. The e-mails show that there is concern among the bank's presidents that environmental standards could lower if the plans are implemented. "Some of the language would severely weaken the protections that currently exist for diversity and natural habitats," says Zloubida Allaoua, vice-president for sustainable development. A World Bank spokesperson said: "We do not comment on leaks. A vigorous and healthy internal discussion is an important part of our deliberative process."
AJIT BAJAJ / CSE