World Bank and the Politics of Environmental Destruction
Feb. 19, 2013
A powerful new book by environmental campaigner Bruce Rich, titled “Foreclosing the Future”, pulls together a mountain of evidence to document how World Bank projects and development finance over the last two decades have continued to cause major local and global environmental damage and inflict harm on communities in borrower countries. Problems with large scale corruption in Bank lending and procurement are also exposed in the book, which charts the evolution of the Bank’s environmental and social policies and assesses the effectiveness of internal Bank reforms intended to “mainstream” environmental and social issues, tackle corruption and reduce poverty.
Drawing on Bank studies, project evaluations and sectoral reviews, it is shown that the World Bank still suffers from a pervasive “loan approval culture” driven by a perverse incentive system that pressures staff and managers to make large loans to governments and corporations without adequate attention to environmental, governance and social issues. In 2013, Bank Staff who highlight social risks and seek to slow down project processing still risk “career suicide”.