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Bretton Woods Update No.67 September/October 2009

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

Breaking the chains? IFC backs out of palm oil

by Hadiru Mahdi

News|22 September 2009

Illustration by Robin Heighway-Bury/

Violations of the IFC's performance standards in a palm oil project in Indonesia could have far reaching effects, drawing attention to the IFC's responsibility for the impact of whole supply chains as a review of their social and environmental standards gets under way. read article...

Asia debates moving away from IMF and West

by Bhumika Muchhala

News|22 September 2009

At a conference in Penang, Malaysia in August, officials, academic and members of civil society from the Asian region sought to chart a way towards greater regional cooperation that would insulate them from the IMF and financial crises. read article...

IFIs and Zimbabwe a love - hurt relationship

by Taurai Chiraerae

News|22 September 2009

The allocation of special drawing rights to Zimbabwe have stirred controversy about whether the country should use these to bolster its flagging public finances, while the fragile coalition government struggles with an external debt burden projected by the IMF to hit almost $7 billion by the end of the year. read article...

Bank's approach to agriculture under fire

by Rachel Whitworth

News|22 September 2009

The World Bank and the IFC have committed to increase funding to agriculture to help tackle the food crisis, but their enthusiasm for agribusiness has been questioned by academics who suggest the benefits will not reach the hungry. read article...

Dollars, devaluations and depressions How the international monetary system creates crises

by Peter Chowla, Barbara Sennholz and Jesse Griffiths

At Issue|23 September 2009

The international monetary framework which emerged after the collapse of the Bretton Woods system in the 1970s has proved volatile, damaging and prone to crises. It is time for a fundamental redesign and the introduction of a global reserve currency, to help stabilise international exchange rates, smooth commodity prices, promote international economic cooperation, and prevent future financial crises. read article...

G20 versus UN: the battle continues

News|22 September 2009

The future of international economic governance and financial reform is still being debated separately at the United Nations and the G20, but little progress is being made. read article...

The Byzantine governance of the IFIs

by Roberto Bissio

Comment|22 September 2009

On August 28, in Bariloche, Argentina, the presidents of twelve South American countries met to discuss a life-or-death issue for their newly created Union of South American Nations (Unasur): the Colombian-US agreement allowing for extra-regional military to set up a chain of bases very close to the heart of the Amazon. read article...

Good cop, bad cop? IMF in Honduras, Sri Lanka

News|22 September 2009

There has been significant concern about IMF programmes in Honduras, where the IMF has not made clear whether it will deal with coup leaders who seized power from the elected president, and in Sri Lanka due to concern over allegations that the government is abusing the human rights of hundreds of thousands of Tamils. read article...

Concerns over IFC's upcoming performance standards review

by Ben Natkin

News|22 September 2009

The IFC has launched the three year review of their performance standards on social and environmental sustainability but civil society has raised concerns about the review and critiques remain with regard to the content of the standards. read article...

Safeguard policies and performance standards

Inside the inst|22 September 2009

Originally drafted as internal operational policies to guide staff, World Bank safeguard policies evolved after pressure from environmental and social groups in the 1980s and were first officially implemented in 1998. They aim to protect people and the environment from the adverse effects of Bank-financed operations and are based on international agreements, even if these protections are not explicitly provided for in the borrower country's national law. read article...

Contract transparency missing as IFC expands oil investments in Africa

by Joshua Klemm

News|22 September 2009

As the World Bank's private lending arm, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), expands its role in the African oil and gas sector, civil society groups are insisting that it adopt a requirement for full contract transparency in all of the extractive industries projects that it finances. read article...

Business as usual? The World Bank's new energy strategy

by Jakob Kane Loukas

News|22 September 2009

The World Bank's planned energy strategy review focusses on energy access for the poor and environmental sustainability, but NGOs fear it will justify continued fossil fuel finance. read article...

Jockeying for position over World Bank's role as climate talks near

by Ama Marston

News|22 September 2009

With roughly two months until the Copenhagen climate negotiations commence, questions loom about quantities of climate finance and which institutions will channel it, leaving speculation about the role the World Bank will end up playing read article...

Rebranding hides little change for IMF lending

News|22 September 2009

The IMF has launched a rebranding exercise for all of its lending to low-income countries, and while the new facilities will deliver more resources, the money seems destined to come with the usual damaging conditionality attached. read article...

IMF advice paradox increase social spending, but contain deficits

by Nuria Molina

News|23 September 2009

During the last year, endowed with record funding and painted by the G20 as the 'saviour' of crisis-hit developing countries, the IMF has embarked on a public relations offensive to prove that it has changed its traditionally austere policy advice and conditions and has become 'more flexible'. read article...

IMF conditions stoke controversy, prompt strikes

News|22 September 2009

The IMF's loans across Europe, from Iceland to Romania are stoking deep controversy and protest. Resistance is building from civil society aganist the austerity benig imposed. read article...

Flexibility or seeds of new crisis? IFIs debt framework revised

by Gail Hurley

News|22 September 2009

A flurry of papers by the IFIs, UNCTAD and NGOs raise concerns over renewed debt difficulties in poor countries just as the IFI's complete a review of the debt sustainability framework to allow more borrowing. read article...

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