The World Bank is considering lifting its ban on direct financing of logging in primary moist tropical forests, encapsulated in its 1991 Forest Policy. A draft strategy offering voluntary guidelines was put on the Bank’s website in June 2001. It claimed that regional consultations carried out in 2000 revealed broad support for the Bank to “re-engage” in the forest sector. NGOs have contested this claim as they wait to see a draft of the Bank’s much-delayed new Operational Policy (OP). The OP will provide mandatory instructions for Bank staff.
A recent joint statement from nine African NGO representatives praised the Bank for its 1991 Forest Policy and stated that local communities often get no benefits from private logging operations. If the ban is lifted they argue that large-scale logging operations would flourish which benefit only elites and hasten further destruction of natural forests.
A new report from the American Lands Alliance examines the impact of IMF policies on forests around the world. The report accuses the IMF of supporting deforestation in 15 countries, among them Brazil, Indonesia, Russia, Cameroon and Chile. The Fund has prioritised economic liberalisation over key social and environmental objectives. With the pending release of the OP, the World Rainforest Movement is calling on NGOs to press for changes which will “secure the rights of forest dwellers; ensure that non-forest sector lending doesn’t damage forests and forest peoples; and proscribe financing in old growth forest.”