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Article

29 Jul 2014

Author:
Inclusive Development International

Inclusive Development Intl. says global civil society response to World Bank plan gathers momentum

"World Bank turns Its back on rights protections for the poor, global civil society response gathers momentum", 29 July 2014

Civil society organisations around the world are decrying a leaked draft of the World Bank's proposed new policies to avoid harmful impacts from the development projects that it finances. Despite earlier commitments by Bank President Jim Yong Kim that the policies would not be diluted and that safeguards on land rights would be strengthened, the proposed changes have gutted essential requirements that are necessary to prevent displacement, impoverishment, and environmental damage. The draft policies are up for discussion by the Bank's board on July 30 ahead of public consultations...Most shockingly, the draft policies provide an opt-out option for governments that do not wish to provide essential land and natural resource rights protections to Indigenous Peoples...The draft also weakens protections for people who will be evicted from their homes, land and livelihoods, increasing the risk that Bank-financed projects will impoverish people, exacerbate inequality and cause human rights violations. The proposal scraps critical rules that have been in place for thirty years requiring the Bank to take concerted measures to avoid and minimise displacement and for resettlement action plans capable of restoring the livelihoods of the displaced to be in place before committing funds to projects. It provides multiple opportunities for borrower governments, or even private "intermediary" banks, to use their own standards for impact assessment, compensation and resettlement, without clear criteria on when and how this would be acceptable...Land titling projects are exempted from the coverage of the draft resettlement policy. This will leave affected communities completely unprotected from forced eviction by their government, as happened in the case of Cambodia's Boeung Kak Lake community whose homes were demolished after they were deemed not to have ownership rights under a Bank-titling project...Despite the growing land-grabbing crisis displacing countless indigenous communities, small farmers, fisher-folk and pastoralists throughout the global south, the draft policy fails to incorporate any serious protections to prevent Bank funds from supporting land-grabs.

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