Subject: [cwj 27] World Bank Goes 'Green' in Japan
From: Corporate Watch in Japanese <>
Date: Mon, 29 May 2000 16:25:35 -0700
Seq: 27

The World Bank gears up to save the environment and end poverty- problems
that have been accelerated by World Bank policies worldwide.  Once in a
while, World Bank officials sound like NGO spokespersons.  But the record
of the World Bank speaks for itself- destroying communities and the

For an introduction to World Bank follies, and why we are boycotting World
Bank bonds, check out

Title: DEVELOPMENT: World Bank Goes 'Green' in Japan

By Suvendrini Kakuchi

TOKYO, May 26 (IPS) - The World Bank has just launched a new environmental
strategy to integrate green issues with poverty eradication in developing
countries -- and chose Japan to kick start this campaign because of its
large aid pie.

''Japan marks the first leg of an important discussion on developing a new
strategy to protect lending from harming the environment,'' Kristalina
Georgieva, director of the environment department at the Washington-based
World Bank, said at the launch Wednesday evening.

''The new strategy will be adopted by the World Bank and we hope will
provide a basis for development programmes conducted in the world,'' she

Georgieva said Japan was chosen as the country to kick off the debate
because of the Asian power's high official development assistance (ODA)
budget for environment protection, as well as domestic efforts to clean up
its own environment.

Japan, the world's top donor in terms of volume, currently marks 20 percent
of its ODA budget toward the environment, according to the government.

Its ODA budget rose 43.8 percent in 1999, from the previous year, to reach
15.3 billion dollars, according to the Organisation for Economic
Cooperation and Development (OECD).

The World Bank, in preparation for pushing its strategy, will also discuss
it in Europe, and developing countries, primarily China and Indonesia,
before the final report is prepared. It is scheduled to be presented in 2002.

''We decided on 2002 to meet the tenth anniversary of the Rio (Earth)
Summit. The timing is symbolic, for the report will provide an important
basis in the discussion on how we can progress after the UN summit by
learning from our mistakes,'' Georgieva told reporters.

Environment activists welcomed the new environmental strategy of the
Bank, but says its effectivity remains to be seen.

''The idea of a new environmental strategy is very welcome. The World Bank
is also consulting with NGOs and this is good, for it sends a positive
image for development,'' said Tokihara Okazaki of Friends of the Earth  Japan.

''But what is important now is the strategy carries some teeth to control
the private sector and also must have policies that encourage bilateral
work with governments of developing countries,'' he added.

''This is left to be seen as the strategy will be complete after a year,''
Tokihara continued.

Critics also dispute the view that Japan's ODA focuses heavily on the
environment, with some activists here pointing out that a loan to develop a
subway system in the Philippines is considered part of ''environmental''
aid as well.

Explaining the need for the new approach by the World Bank, Georgieva
explains that poverty is growing in developing countries - 2.8 billion
people live below 2 U.S. dollars per day -- despite World Bank and other
institutions and groups' efforts to curb the problem.

But, she says, what is clear now is that destroying the environment to feed
people, will not eliminate poverty.

For example, she points out that in Jordan, there is large-scale mining of
water to boost water production in order to provide more people with the
scarce resource.

However, it is now clear that mining destroys the soil and that in five to
10 years, the problem will only be aggravated as a result of a drastic drop
in water due to overuse.

She explained that 5 to 6 million people in poor countries, or 20 percent
of the world's population die each year due to illnesses caused by
environmental problems such as dirty water, air pollution, the destruction
of forests causing sickness such as dysentery, dengue fever and malaria.

The gravity of the situation is even more evident when one considers that
the number of people who die from environment-linked illnesses is even more
than the figure of people with malnutrition, Georgieva says.

''This trend is accelerating,'' she warned, pointing out that 17 million
hectares of pristine forests are being cut down each year and 70 percent of
the world's fishery resources are being overexploited, causing irreversible
damage to many areas.

World Bank officials also discussed the new environment approach with non
governmental organisations, politicians, governmental and aid officials and

Talks focused on the need to support the public sector to enforce
environment regulations in order to get the private sector to be more
responsible on  the environment, and the need to engage civil societies,
the public and marketing sector to work together.

''The importance of working toward a delicate balance between all three
forces was stressed as only in this way can there be concrete achievements
for the benefit of the environment,'' she said.

Japanese participants also brought up the need to balance growth with
environment protection, she said, a common theme right through the discussion.

''There should be more NGO consultation and the strategy should formulate
clear outlines for companies and investment toward protecting the
environment. Only then can the strategy be considered a step forward,''
observed professor Kazu Sumi of Niigata University.

In the current debate, Georgieva pointed out that the World Bank has met
with several obstacles such as how to develop strategies that will protect
both the global and domestic environment.

The establishment of a 135 million dollar proto-type carbon fund in the
World Bank with contributions also from Japanese power companies, for
example, is aimed at addressing carbon emissions responsible for global

However the fund does not directly deal with air pollution in developing
countries and appears to favour industrialised countries with high
production of greenhouse gases, say critics. Still, Georgieva said, ''We
hope the fund will have a positive impact in those countries by encouraging
them to switch to cleaner technologies.''

The new Bank strategy will also include the protection of livelihoods of
people living in rural areas who depend on the protection of forests and
the ecosystems health demonstrated by biodiversity.

Bank officials say the new proposal aims to develop a new starting point
for  poverty alleviation in an environmentally sustainable way.

Said Georgieva, who is also an expert on East Asia: ''We must be able to
pull people out of poverty in a way that should not be at the risk of the
environment, which could pull people back to poverty in a few years time.''


       [c] 2000, InterPress Third World News Agency (IPS)

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