Bank violates own policies in Congo

1 February 2008

The findings of an Inspection Panel investigation into the Bank’s failure to comply with its own safeguard policies in its support for forest sector reforms in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was discussed by the board in January (see Update 57). Twelve Congolese pygmy groups filed the complaint in 2005, regarding the exclusion of indigenous peoples from Bank-supported forest sector reforms and the absence of participatory land use planning processes. The Panel found that the Bank had violated its safeguard policies, including those on indigenous peoples and overestimated the timber revenues that the government could earn from timber exports, therby encouraging logging of the world’s second largest rainforest. Subsequent statements from management highlighted broad consensus on the need for the Bank to remain engaged in the country’s forest sector, but failed to mention specifics about what the Bank has learned from the failures documented by the Panel.