An obscure tribunal housed at the World Bank in Washington, D.C. will soon decide the fate of millions of people.
At issue is whether a government should be punished for refusing to let a foreign mining company operate because it wants to protect its main source of water.
The case pits El Salvador’s government against a Canadian gold-mining company that recently became part of a larger Australian-based corporation. When OceanaGold bought Pacific Rim last year, it identified the Salvadoran mining prospects as a key asset, even though gold prices have sunk by more than a third from their 2011 high of more than $1,900 an ounce.
The case’s implications are chilling. If the company wins, this small country will have to either let the company mine or pay hundreds of millions of dollars.
This summer, we returned to northern El Salvador. That’s where the Pacific Rim mining company started to dig its exploration wells about a decade ago.
via Meet the Company Suing El Salvador for the Right to Poison Its Water – FPIF.
The World Bank will invest heavily in clean energy and only fund coal projects in “circumstances of extreme need” because climate change will undermine efforts to eliminate extreme poverty, says its president Jim Yong Kim.
Talking ahead of a UN climate summit in Peru next month, Kim said he was alarmed by World Bank-commissioned research from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, which said that as a result of past greenhouse gas emissions the world is condemned to unprecedented weather events.
“The findings are alarming. As the planet warms further, heatwaves and other weather extremes, which today we call once-in-a-century events, would become the new climate normal, a frightening world of increased risk and instability. The consequences for development would be severe, as crop yields decline, water resources shift, communicable diseases move into new geographical ranges, and sea levels rise,” he said.
via World bank to focus future investment on clean energy | Environment | The Guardian.
Irin News 16 September The EcologistThe World Bank is considering ‘reforms’ to its policies to protect indigenous peoples from the impacts of projects it finances that would devolve key decisions to national governments – such as whether an ethnic group is ‘indigenous’ at all. If passed by the Bank’s Board, the changes would strip away a raft of essential human rights protections..Setting the standard is something an institution as powerful and influential as the World Bank should be considering as mandatory, rather than optional.Activists are warning of a harmful regression in the World Bank’s safeguard policies, claiming that proposed changes being considered this autumn could weaken the rights of indigenous people, and others in danger of displacement and abuse as a result of Bank-funded development projects.“This [version of the safeguards] will be dangerous backsliding into their bad legacy of treatment against indigenous people if it is approved”, said Joan Carling, secretary-general of the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact AIPP, a network that operates in 14 Asian countries.According to the World Bank, “the proposed Environmental and Social Framework builds on the decades-old safeguard policies and aims to consolidate them into a more modern, unified framework that is more efficient and effective to apply and implement.”
via World Bank poised to strip human rights protections from indigenous people | Climate Connections.
If correct, there is no making sense of this. It flies in the face of the World Bank’s own devastating report on Climate Change…
“Radical plans by the World Bank to relax the conditions on which it lends up to $50bn £29bn a year to developing countries have been condemned as potentially disastrous for the environment and likely to weaken protection of indigenous peoples and the poor.A leaked draft of the banks proposed new “safeguard policies”, seen by the Guardian, suggests that existing environmental and social protection will be gutted to allow logging and mining in even the most ecologically sensitive areas, and that indigenous peoples will not have to be consulted before major projects like palm oil plantations or large dams palm go ahead on land which they traditionally occupy.Under the proposed new “light touch” rules, the result of a two year consultation within the bank, borrowers will be allowed to opt out of signing up to employment safeguards, existing protection for biodiversity will be shredded, countries will be allowed to assess themselves, and harmful projects are much more likely to occur, according to World Bank watchdog groups including the Bank Information Centre BIC, the Ulu Foundation and the International Trade Union Confederation.
via Leaked World Bank lending policies environmentally disastrous | Environment | theguardian.com.
When Bolivian President Evo Morales arrived at the new Uyuni airport last August and found no water running from the tap, he publicly reprimanded and promptly dismissed his Minister of Water. As it happened, the pipes were merely frozen. The incident underscores the critical—and highly symbolic—role of water in the politics of this landlocked Andean nation.
via From water wars to water scarcity: Bolivia’s cautionary tale | Climate Connections.