• Bruce Rich
  • Triple Crisis: Global Perspectives on Finance, Development, and the Environment (blog)
  • July 16, 2013
  • blog

In 2011 UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon shocked an audience of bankers and corporate executives in Davos Switzerland when he declared that the current economic system was “a recipe for disaster” and “a global suicide pact.” The vast majority of the world’s economic growth, as well as ecological destruction, is now occurring in developing countries, and it is largely in these countries where the environmental and economic future of the world will be decided. No institution has played a more influential role in this arena than the World Bank Group. The World Bank Group proudly proclaims “our dream is a world without poverty.” It claims to be a leader in promoting environmental standards for development, as well as in finance for environmental purposes, such as mitigating climate change. In reality it is a microcosm of the failures of its 188 member countries to address the challenges of economic development. Internal Bank studies reveal that the Bank’s incorporation of environmental concerns into its lending decisions has actually decreased since the turn of the millennium. In 2011 the Bank’s internal evaluation department found that nearly nine tenths of World Bank Group lending for the private sector through the Bank’s rapidly expanding International Finance Corporation—touted by recent Bank presidents as a model–has totally ignored poverty impacts, often subsidizing the world’s richest corporations and banks with public funds. 


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