Social services


World Bank caught between Red and Dead Sea

22 September 2009

by Nadia Daar, Bank Information Center

The World Bank has been involved in administering a $16.7 million fund for a feasibility study and environmental and social assessment (ESA) of the highly controversial Red Sea-Dead Sea canal (see Update 58). A planned ‘study of alternatives’ has not yet begun, suggesting that the Bank is not serious about looking for more sustainable options.

In addition, the Jordanians, Palestinians and Israelis have each hand-picked a consultant to conduct this study, leaving observers to question which biases these consultants bring given that in the past, the Jordanians have suggested they will proceed with this project with or without the studies. In fact, some have argued that the Jordan-Red Sea Water Project, a separate initiative, has components characterized as the initial stages of RSDSC, a project which threatens to reduce Palestinian control over key water resources, and potentially legitimize Israeli control over occupied territory.

Stephen Lintner, the Bank’s senior safeguards advisor, insists that the Bank has not yet determined its future involvement in this project, however, both the Bank’s and the IFC’s environmental standards are being used for the ESA, hinting at future involvement. Although the Palestinian authority and the Israeli and Jordanian governments have signed on to the project study, doubts remain over the project’s legalities, environmental consequences, and political implications.