VICTORY: World Bank Found to Have Seriously Violated Own Rules as Sought to Raze Congo’s Rainforests

Rainforest logsA leaked report by the World Bank's independent inspection panel has found the World Bank gravely broke its own rules in regard to rainforest policies and projects pursued since 2002 in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The World Bank encouraged foreign companies to destructively log DRC's rainforests, endangering the lives of thousands of Congolese Pygmies; misled Congo's government about the value of their forests, and repeatedly broke their own rules regarding natural habitat and indigenous protections.
Congo's rainforests are the second largest in the world, hold some 8% of the Earth's carbon, and possess critical global ecosystems containing rich biodiversity. These forests provide medicines, shelter, timber and food for 40 million people. When the World Bank reentered the Congo in 2002, after years of war, it said industrial forestry could contribute to the country's recovery. It rushed through new forestry laws, divided the country's rainforests into logging zones, and along with the British government aimed to create a favorable climate for industrial logging. These efforts have now been discredited.

This revelation of Bank corruption in order to ensure Western access to ancient rainforest timbers is a victory, albeit sad and impartial, as the Pygmies' rights and livelihoods are safe for now from illegally promoted inappropriate development of the country's rainforests by the World Bank. It is a victory for Rainforest Foundation — UK, whose persistent efforts to highlight the World Bank's bad faith efforts in the DRC have paid off. And perhaps the mighty Congo rainforest is secure for awhile from more misguided World Bank forest conservation policies and projects that intensify industrial logging.
And lastly, it is a victory for EcoInternet's action network (you!), who in support of Pygmies filing the inspection panel claim, the Rainforest Foundation, and out of a desire to keep DRC's rainforests intact; launched one of our largest email action protests ever, as tens of thousands of protests emails were sent by thousands of protestors. The protest alert in December of 2005 had such high levels of participation that we crashed our server handling the volume!
The alert just prior to the World Bank Board's consideration of Congo rainforest policy called for an Inspection Panel “investigation into claims by the 'Pygmy' indigenous peoples that you have failed to take into account how your plans would impact people depending on the forest for their survival… The World Bank is laying the basis for the destruction of Congo's rainforests, and it has breached many of its own internal safeguard policies in the process”. These allegations have been borne out in their entirety.
It is clear that the World Bank must completely rethink their forest policy in the DRC and the world. Industrial logging must be rejected and replaced with an emphasis upon community development based upon standing, intact rainforests. Further, it is clear that the World Bank has been discredited, shown to not be a good faith participant in world efforts to protect the world's remaining primary and old-growth forests. As such, they must be disqualified from further administration of GEF and proposed Forest/Carbon protection monies. Expect an alert to this effect shortly…
EMBARGO: 4th October 2007. 00.01 hrs
Congo's Pygmies vindicated as official watchdog condemns World Bank's role in Africa's great rainforest
An unreleased report of the World Bank Inspection Panel obtained today by the Rainforest Foundation shows that the World Bank has committed grave errors in its projects in the rainforests of the Democratic Republic of Congo, which are the second largest on Earth after the Amazon [1]. The Panel's investigation was undertaken after a formal complaint was submitted by a number of organisation's working with Congo's indigenous Pygmy people, who expressed their concern about the impact of Bank-funded activities in the forests which they inhabit [2]. An area of rainforest the size of France is at risk.
The report finds that two projects funded by the Bank since 2002 would have promoted massive industrial exploitation of Congo's rainforests for timber production, potentially turning the country into

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4 Responses

  1. Paul Lin says:

    The Congo must be saved and protected.

  2. Flo says:

    So wonderful !!!!
    It is high time the World Bank be brought to account for what it does !!
    With all gratitude,
    flo c.

  3. Nigel Hargreaves says:

    I'm glad of the exposure of the World Bank's culpability in the erosion of the Congo's rainforests, but we can't stop there. It seems they are responsible for supporting the causes of fires raging in the Amazon on an unprecedented scale at present. Have you seen this article?
    It is clear that the World Bank must completely rethink their
    forest policy in the DRC and the world. Industrial logging
    must be rejected and replaced with an emphasis upon community
    development based upon standing, intact rainforests.
    Changing the Chief at the head of the world Bank may be a step in the right direction to the reforms you mention:
    But perhaps the time has come for a different approach. It seems to me that the World Bank was established to fund 'development' which has largely ignored the cost to the environment supporting such developments. It's as if the concept of development itself has disregarded the integrity of the very foundations it sits on by creating environmental degradation in its desire for economy/infrastructure building. I think the time is overdue for a 'Gaia Bank' of similar international standing. A bank which represents the needs of the planet, which only funds environmentally positive initiatives such as reforestation, renewable energy and sustainable farming for example. In other words, to flip some of the funding to the other side of the development coin (both sides being inextricably linked of course) in order to rebalance the reality of what is true development.
    Maybe this initiative could be tied in with the calls for changes to the Kyoto process, or maybe not?
    Nigel Hargreaves
    RESPONSE: Agreed, the problem of World Bank's failure to reconcile their economic and environmental duties is systematic and widespread, and not limited to failed Congo's rainforest policy.

  4. Congratulations on what has been achieved so far. you have the support of Forest Friends Ireland/C

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