Thursday, May 26, 2011

World Bank calibrating its measurement of sustainability

Emilio Godoy in IPS (Tierramérica) reports on a World Bank effort to actually the monitor the impacts of the projects that it backs: The World Bank is working to update the mechanisms it uses to measure the effects of the financing it provides, particularly in environmental and social terms, now that it is gearing up to administer the new Green Climate Fund. "The Bank is working to deepen the measurement of impacts," not only "the outcomes associated with a project, but also its long-term effects, such as impacts on health, ecosystems or the quality of life of the population," Gustavo Saltiel, the director of sustainable development for the World Bank in Mexico, told Tierramérica.

The World Bank is one of the leading financers of environmental projects in Mexico, as well as projects to combat climate change since 2009. Since 1999, the multilateral institution has disbursed 672 million dollars in loans for 43 projects in Mexico aimed at developing the low-carbon economy, energy efficiency, renewable energies, sustainable transportation, and improved air quality.

But the results of these projects and the transparency with which these funds are used by the Mexican authorities have been questioned by civil society organisations.

The World Bank has established safeguard policies to "promote socially and environmentally sustainable approaches to development as well as to ensure that Bank operations do not harm people and the environment," according to its website.

These safeguard policies include the Bank's policy on environmental assessment of loan proposals and the corresponding safeguards regarding cultural property, disputed areas, forestry, indigenous peoples, international waterways, involuntary resettlement, natural habitats, pest management and safety of dams.

Evaluations of these policies "have demonstrated the poor work done (by the Bank) in monitoring the execution of measures to mitigate social and environmental risks," Vince McElhinny of the non-governmental Bank Information Center, based in Washington, told Tierramérica….

Marginalized settlement "Colinas del Río", in the municipality Benito Juárez of the State of Nuevo León in Mexico. December of 2005. Photography taken by LeCire

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