World Bank Board Pulls Plug On Independent Audit Of Lending To Support Rainforest Logging
Two environmental activist groups blasted the World Bank over its reported decision to block a probe into its support of industrial-scale rainforest logging. Greenpeace and Global Witness issued a statement condemning last Friday's decision by The World Bank Board of Directors not to pursue a review of its lending to industrial logging companies. The review was recommended by an independent audit committee that has been conducting an evaluation of the effectiveness of a decade's worth of World Bank forestry investments.
“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 in a statement. “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.”
The report, developed by the Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) which is comprised of bank staff and outside consultants, is highly critical of the bank's investments in 345 forestry projects between July 2001 and July 2011. It says that while the bank's $4.1 billion investments helped protect 24 million hectares of forest and set aside 45 million hectares for indigenous people, it largely failed to achieve its social and environmental targets.
The report criticized the bank for continuing to fund industrial logging, failing to involve communities in decision-making, and supporting approaches where benefits accrued to the wealthy at the expense of the poor. According to IEG, the World Bank mostly ignored the informal sector, which is an important source of income for many forest-dependent people. Conservation projects often forced local people to move against their will.