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Bretton Woods Update No.62 September/October 2008

PDF version | At Issue PDF | text version | versión en español

Bank failing on environment: IEG finds lack of coherence

News|29 September 2008

In July the World Bank's internal watchdog, the independent evaluation group (IEG), released an assessment of the Bank's record on environment between1990-2007. Delicate wording aside, the evaluation finds that the Bank has performed poorly when it comes to a coherent integration of environmental goals into its country strategies and investment portfolios. read article...

'Climate bank' or 'fossil fuel bank'? World Bank Group increases lending to high-carbon projects

by Srabani Roy

News|29 September 2008

Analysis of the investment figures from the most recent fiscal year once again cast doubt on whether the World Bank Group is willing to give up its addiction to fossil-fuel projects that spur climate change. read article...

World Bank and IMF get a dose of health criticism

News|26 September 2008

While falling short of claiming that the World Bank and the IMF cause people to die, a massive study on the social determinants of health by the World Health Organisation and another on tuberculosis treatment in Eastern Europe each fault the IFIs for exacerbating inequality in access to health care. read article...

The IMF, fiscal space and development programmes

by Nancy Dubosse

News|26 September 2008

IMF programmes for low-income countries continue to restrict governments' choices of how to fund development and how to manage the trade-offs. read article...

Who should control the Bank? Rich countries keep their thumbs on the scales

News|29 September 2008

Illustration by Robin Heighway-Bury/Thorogood.net

Proposed reforms to the way the World Bank is governed tinker at the edges, promising only marginal improvements for developing countries; critics are stepping up the pressure for a fundamental rethink. The World Bank board will discuss a package of reforms to the way the Bank is governed at its annual meetings in October, hoping to agree a concrete set of actions by next spring. Despite calls from developing countries, civil society and others for root and branch change to address the Bank's gaping deficits in democracy, legitimacy and accountability, the proposals are uninspiring. read article...

Financial crisis: IMF chases its own tail

News|29 September 2008

As global finance dries up and economic markets crash, criticisms mount of the IMF and its inability to convince its largest members to curb speculation or better regulate the financial sector. read article...

Africa and the making of adjustment How economists hijacked the Bank's agenda

by Howard Stein

At Issue|29 September 2008

Development economist and professor of African studies Howard Stein examines the evolution of policy in the Bank, focusing on how economists became hegemonic. In this essay he details the origin of structural adjustment, tracing its roots back to a set of neoliberal economists who gained influence at the Bank in the late 1970s. read article...

The World Bank and IMF response to the food crisis Will lessons be learned?

by Nuria Molina and Bhumika Muchhala

News|26 September 2008

Although conditions attached to food and fuel crisis lending are somewhat lighter, the Bank and the Fund should turn the crisis into an opportunity to learn that finance can be granted without the usual strings attached. read article...

World Bank legitimising illegal Israeli occupation of West Bank

by Dawood Hammoudeh

Comment|29 September 2008

The Bank's approach to development in Palestine hinges on the full acceptance of the status quo - e.g. continued occupation and the presence of the settlements and the wall - as well as joint projects that impose PNA-Israeli cooperation, often with a third international partner. Politically, these development projects threaten to legitimise Israeli claims in regards to the wall, Jerusalem, land annexation and settlements that have resulted in the fragmentation and ghettoisation of the West Bank and Gaza. read article...

Evaluation asks what value the IFC adds

News|11 August 2008

An evaluation of the World Bank's private sector lending finds that amidst overall high development outcomes, poor environmental and social performance continues to plague projects in Africa. For the first time, the evaluators look at the sensitive question of 'additionality'. read article...

Voluntary transparency not enough in IFI extractive operations

by Heike Mainhardt-Gibbs

News|26 September 2008

A recent NGO assessment of World Bank and IMF operations in over 55 resource-rich countries finds that the IFIs have lacked consistency in insuring transparency of the revenues generated from extractive industries. read article...

The World Bank and water privatisation: public money down the drain

by Nuria Molina and Peter Chowla

News|26 September 2008

Though the World Bank may be changing its formerly dogmatic approach to full privatisation of the water sector, key cases in Tanzania, Armenia, Zambia and India highlight that the Bank may not be learning quickly enough and that the poor may be left both without improved water and paying for botched privatisations. read article...

IFC advisory services

Inside the inst|26 September 2008

The advisory services (AS) department of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, has grown rapidly since its establishment in 1986 and is seen by the IFC as one factor that distinguishes them from other financiers. read article...

Bank plays blocking game in Accra aid negotiations

by Lucy Hayes

News|29 September 2008

The influence of the World Bank was felt in Accra when developing countries and donors met at a resplendent conference centre for the recent High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness. read article...

World Bank new poverty estimates: more confusing than ever

by Nicolo Tomaselli

News|29 September 2008

The World Bank finally published a new count of the extreme poor worldwide at end-August. As expected the new figures are fuelling the ongoing debate on poverty estimates. read article...

The Bank of the South: the search for an alternative to IFIs

by María José Romero and Carlos Alonso Bedoya

News|26 September 2008

Despite the political victory of transformative forces in South America, differences of opinion over the direction of the Bank of the South, a new regional development bank, may slow progress towards developing an autonomous alternative to the World Bank and IMF-dominated international financial architecture. read article...

World Bank, NGOs clash at roundtable on odious debt

by Alex Wilks

News|26 September 2008

A recent roundtable meeting shows that some progress has been made in official understanding of odious debt, but that the World Bank is remaining very cautious on the topic. read article...

IFI inspection mechanisms slam Bank faults in Uganda and Nigeria

by Soren Ambrose

News|26 September 2008

The Bujagali dam project in Uganda and the West Africa Gas Pipeline project in Nigeria have been roundly criticised by the World Bank's Inspection Panel. read article...

Pipe dreams shattered in Georgia

by Manana Kochladze

News|26 September 2008

The World Bank and others have tried to convince the region's poor that oil pipelines in the Caucuses would bring economic prosperity and strengthen democracy in the region. However, this Caspian oil game is partly to blame for the increased poverty, conflict and misery that now plagues the thousands of citizens displaced in the August conflict in Georgia. read article...

'No regrets': The World Bank and climate change Bank proposes vast expansion of its role, ignoring criticism of past record

News|29 September 2008

The World Bank has just finished consultations on a new strategic framework for its climate change work, which has one common thread: a massively increased role for the Bank. Yet there is little reflection on the reasons why the Bank's record in this area is so poor, as detailed by a number of recent reports. read article...

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