The World Bank funded the Nam Theun II hydroelectric dam in Laos despite global environmental protests. The project uprooted 6,200 villagers and will have profound effects on downstream fisheries and biodiversity.
The World Bank is being criticized for a persistent lack of environmental focus in an internal review of its lending activities. The new report rails against the environmental degradation caused by many bank-funded projects in poor countries that harm local communities in the name of “development.”
The World Bank and its partners need to do a far better job of considering the environmental effects of projects they finance in poor countries, its internal review group concludes in a new report.
The review, released Tuesday, examined some of the $400 billion in investments in nearly 7,000 projects from 1990 to 2007. It found that recent pledges for environmental sustainability by the bank and sister institutions, including the International Finance Corporation, were often not put into practice when dollars were turned into dams, pipelines, palm plantations and the like.
The authors of the 181-page environmental report, the first by the bank’s Independent Evaluation Group since 2002, said it was crucial for the bank and its partners to intensify their focus on measurable environmental protection, given rising vulnerability to environmental risks and the increasing flow of financing for projects related to climate change.