We Need Sustainable Development Banks, Say NGOs

Published on IPS, by Emilio Godoy, July 5, 2010.

… Non-governmental organisations from across the Americas are demanding that the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank institute policies that favour sustainable energy and help mitigate climate change. Civil society groups sent letters to the two institutions, both headquartered in Washington, about the IDB’s strategy on climate change and the World Bank’s long-term energy policy.

In the case of the IDB, 10 NGOs from Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru and United States told the regional bank it should reduce its projects’ contribution to climate change, respect communities’ rights, make accounting more transparent, finance the development of renewable energy sources and phase out fossil-fuel sources and hydroelectric dams.

“There is a need for coherence between policy and what they end up financing,” said Astrid Puentes, co-director of the Inter-American association for Environmental Defence (AIDA, for its Spanish initials), one of the groups that signed the letter of comments.

“Access to sustainable energy should be a priority, and they should assess the poor communities that they intend to support in order to determine the best options available,” she told IPS … //

… Among the problems cited by the Inspection Panel are the lack of consultation of the affected peoples about the projects, failure to comply with population relocation plans, insufficient community participation in project benefits, and violation of environmental and social standards and policies.

“The World Bank has to demonstrate with indicators that the kinds of projects that it finances have a widespread benefit and that it does not just support the construction of mega-projects, which favour the expansion of economically powerful sectors,” said Flórez. The Bank also needs to ensure that the energy matrix in the countries it supports is turning its focus to clean energy sources, she said. (END) (full text).

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