World Bank refuses to review support for logging in tropical rainforests despite criticism from its own independent evaluators
The World Bank Board of Directors has blocked a call by independent evaluators to review the outcomes of the Bank’s support for industrial-scale logging in tropical rainforests. The evaluators concluded in a report published last Friday that such operations have not been effective in reducing poverty, the World Bank’s core mandate, or achieving sustainability. Despite these findings, the Board voted unanimously against a recommendation that the Bank review the effectiveness of its support for tropical forest logging.
“The very survival of tropical forests and the way of life of people who live in them is under threat, and the World Bank is in denial about its contribution to the problem,” said Rick Jacobsen of Global Witness. “As a public institution tasked with reducing poverty, the World Bank should take very seriously its own evaluators’ finding that its approach is not helping vulnerable forest communities. It’s time for the Bank to stop defending destructive logging practices in the name of development benefits that never materialize.”
“After 10 years of World Bank-led reforms in the DRC, roughly 150,000 km2 of rainforest remain in the hands of poorly regulated international logging companies, while communities are once again being left behind,” said Susanne Breitkopf of Greenpeace International. The reform process in the DRC has been marred with irregularities and widely criticized; meanwhile, a law that would support community management of forests has been stalled for years, and the Bank is financing a forest zoning process that is likely to earmark huge areas of rainforest for industrial logging.
While the Bank fiercely rejected the evaluators’ criticism of its support for industrial-scale logging in the tropics, it accepted seven other recommendations made in the report. Two of these focused on the need to provide more support for forest-dependent communities to allow them to directly manage their own forest resources. The Bank has not yet indicated how it plans to implement these recommendations. Breitkopf remains skeptical: “In order to reduce poverty and deforestation, the Bank needs to put land rights and community forest management at front and center of its projects, rather than making them cosmetic add-ons.”
Rick Jacobsen, Team Leader, International Forest Policy, Global Witness
+1 415 699 9504, email@example.com
Susanne Breitkopf, Senior Political Advisor, Greenpeace International
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Notes to editors:
The Committee of the Development Effectiveness (CODE) of the World Bank Board of Executive Directors was responsible for the decision and currently includes the Executive Directors of Germany, India, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Sweden, United Kingdom and Zambia.
The World Bank’s Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) is responsible for carrying out independent evaluations of World Bank operations and reports directly to the Committee on Development Effectiveness (CODE) of the World Bank Board of Directors. The IEG evaluation and responses from World Bank management and CODE are available here: http://ieg.worldbankgroup.org/content/ieg/en/home.html
In late 2010, an Independent Forest Monitor financed by the European Development Fund was appointed by the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo to monitor the quality of law enforcement in the country. The Monitor’s first field reports were published in January 2013 and are available in French at the following website: http://www.observation-rdc.info/Rapports.html#7
The Bank has been instrumental in putting into place policies in many tropical countries that result in widespread logging of tropical rainforests. Yet according to a growing body of evidence, industrial-scale logging contributes to tropical deforestation while doing little to improve the lives of forest-dependent communities and indigenous peoples. Corruption and lack of government oversight further aggravate the problem. In the countries of Africa’s Congo Basin, home to the world’s second largest rainforest next to the Amazon, law enforcement in the logging sector is ineffective and corruption and cronyism are widespread. Recent reports from a government-appointed independent observer in the Democratic Republic of Congo, for example, found that many international logging companies are carrying out illegal activities.
OK, it looked guilty of making a silly gesture behind the back of an officer filming the crime scene.
And later its exasperated expression did seem to make a female officer laugh without due care and attention.
But as the crestfallen creature was handcuffed and dragged away to a waiting panda car by four officers, it� looked in a rather bad way. But one thing’s for sure – the costumed campaigner had certainly made its point.
The activists cordoned off scores of Shell forecourts and used emergency shut-off switches to stop fuel from getting to the pumps. They claimed they had ‘closed down’ 71 petrol stations – well on the way to its target of 100 – but Shell later said it was 30. A total of 25 arrests were also made in London and Edinburgh, where the bear had its collar felt.
The incident occurred at a Shell petrol station on Dalry Road, Edinburgh, Scotland (Picture: Scott Taylor Universal News And Sport)
A Shell spokesman said: ‘We recognise that certain organisations are opposed to our exploration programme off Alaska. We also respect the right of individuals and organisations to engage in a free and frank exchange of views about our operations.
‘Recognising the right of individuals to express their point of view, we only ask they do so with their safety and the safety of others in mind.
‘Shell has met with numerous organisations who oppose drilling offshore Alaska.
‘We respect their views and value the dialogue. We have extended this same offer for productive dialogue to Greenpeace.’
A Save The Arctic campaign was last week launched by Greenpeace which calls for the creation of a sanctuary to save endangered animals such as the polar bear.
The charity fears that any oil exploration in the area will threaten the ‘fragile and beautiful Arctic’.
It also claims that future oil spills would be ‘catastrophic’ for the region and creatures that live there.
The Amsterdam District Court said the company should expect public protest about controversial business practices.
But it also gave Greenpeace a list of guidelines to ensure protests were “proportionate”.
Shell had sought a fine of 1.1m euros ($1.2m) for a breach of the ban.
But the Amsterdam court ruling said: “The judge took as a starting point that organisations such as Greenpeace are, in principle, free to carry out actions to let the public know about their point of view.”
“Future Greenpeace actions against Shell cannot be banned in advance provided that they remain in a certain framework,” the ruling added.
The framework included, for example, a time limit for protesters to occupy petrol stations.
The environmental campaigning group has organised several protests against Shell’s exploratory drilling in the Arctic.
In a recent protest on 14 September the group used bicycle locks to shut down pumps at more than 60 filling stations across the Netherlands.
“The mere fact that such an action causes nuisance or loss for the business targeted by the action – in this case Shell – does not makes such an action illegal,” the court said.
Greenpeace, which fears the company’s search for oil in the Arctic will devastate the environment, welcomed the verdict.
“The judge rejected the majority of this injunction and has reminded the company that civil disobedience is a right in democracies, even when its business is impacted,” Greenpeace International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo said in a statement.
Shell too said it was satisfied with the verdict.
“We are pleased that Greenpeace actions such as those of September 14 are now bound by strict conditions,” company spokesman Lukas Burgering said.