Commentary: World Bank & IFC should hold themselves accountable when funded projects harm communities
Author: Vivek Maru, The Washington Post, Published on: 14 May 2018
"The World Bank shouldn't hide when it funds projects that harm communities," 9 May 2018
In... a rural coastal area in western India... a coal plant financed by the International Finance Corp.... caused substantial environmental harm, including devastating the ecosystem relied on by a small minority group that depends on fishing to live... But when the local government, along with fisher-people and farmers from that part of the Kutch coast, sued in federal district court in D.C... the IFC’s response wasn’t to deny the harm done but to try to escape legal liability... If... [the IFC, the World Bank and the rest of the international development finance industry]... resist responsibility in cases where their investments — their work — do harm, they’re effectively perpetuating some of the same problems they putatively exist to remedy. Multilateral institutions... were set up to fight poverty, not maximize profit... The World Bank and IFC, then, should want to hold themselves accountable, because that’s consistent with their mission. If their raison d’etre is assisting developing communities, they shouldn’t hide when a project winds up diminishing a community... To accomplish this, the first step would be making its social and environmental standards enforceable, both as conditions between the bank and the organization it lends to, and as binding commitments to the community affected... Second, multilateral banks should pioneer a new global norm for the private sector: dedicating a small fraction of total lending to finance independent legal support for affected communities.