By John DeFore
Efforts by the World Bank to ease global poverty draw critiques from many quarters, sometimes including the people of those nations the group seeks to help. The latest round of criticism, though, comes from within the bank itself.
A lengthy new report written by the Independent Evaluation Group (“an independent, three-part unit within the World Bank Group,” as the report puts it) studied the bank’s environmental efforts from 1990 to 2007 and found that while “the World Bank Group has been a leader in calling for environmental sustainability,” the institution’s environmental concerns haven’t yet been adequately integrated into its own programs.
“The three parts of the World Bank Group need — in somewhat different ways — to
improve substantially their ability to assess the full environmental impacts of their interventions,” the authors assert, going on to say that “environmental sustainability must become a core part of the World Bank Group’s strategic directions and receive fuller attention in regional and country assistance strategies.”
The evaluators say that failures to set and meet green goals are “often because of lukewarm interest from the countries” receiving aid, but that there are shortcomings all along the lending chain. They say the World Bank has not paid enough attention to long-term sustainability efforts. The report also urged better coordination within the organization and its three parts “to monitor environmental outcomes and to assess impacts.”
Within the report are detailed descriptions of environmental issues confronting nations around the world, such as air quality in Nigeria, water quality and scarcity in India and deforestation in the Amazon.
World Bank management issued a response, acknowledging that while they have concerns about the methodology used in the report, they agree with several parts of the group’s findings.
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