For several months the Bank has been considering withholding the second payment of a structural adjustment credit to the Royal Cambodian Government in reaction to the failure of the government to comply with the terms of the credit and its threats to expel an independent monitor of the forestry sector (see Bretton Woods Update 32).
Encouragingly, charges against the Global Witness country representative in Cambodia have been dropped, and reports are that the UK-based NGO may be allowed to continue as a monitor past the original three-month deadline set by the government in January. According to Bank spokesperson Melissa Fossberg, “there is a specific set of actions the Government has agreed to take before we would consider releasing the money.” These conditions include maintaining an independent forest crime monitor and continuing a donor-led review of forestry management plans and unsatisfactory impact assessments.
In Papua New Guinea a network of NGOs working on forest issues has called on the Bank to use its influence to convince the government to intervene in an agreement allowing illegal logging. The agreement was signed between the Malaysian company Concord Pacific, the National Forest Board Chair and a controversial landowning company. According to CELCOR, an NGO based in Port Moresby, the construction of the Kiunga Aiambak logging road by Concord Pacific is the latest chapter in a saga which has seen a “complete breakdown in forestry management in the last 12 months.”
The project has repeatedly been brought to the World Bank’s attention. In October 2000, an independent forestry review team appointed by the Bank released a damning audit of the project. A year later, CELCOR lodged a complaint with the Bank’s Inspection Panel on behalf of landowners adversely affected by the project. The complaint was rejected by the Panel, finding that the “harm suffered by the requesters was not related to the actions/omissions of the Bank and the harm was caused by private entities which have no relation to the Bank’s programme”.
UK-based Forest Peoples Programme has published a NGO guide to the World Bank’s new Forest Policy. The guide, in question and answer format, is designed to help NGOs, forest peoples and indigenous peoples make sense of the new policy. Also available in French and Spanish.