Environment trust fund goals conflict with World Bank

23 January 2014

A December report by the World Bank’s Independent Evaluation Group (IEG), on the Bank’s role in the Global Environment Facility (GEF, see Update 68), a trust fund, exposed mismatches between the fund’s interest and the Bank, exposed mismatches between the two institutions’ interests, which “over time, decreased the effectiveness of Bank Group-GEF collaboration”.

The Bank is currently trustee, implementing agency, and host organisation of the GEF secretariat. The report noted potential conflicts of interest in the Bank’s different roles, including that “the Bank does retain an informational advantage in relation to the other agencies, since the GEF coordination unit has access to the internal trust fund databases … and the trustee has access to more information about Bank-implemented GEF projects than those of other agencies.” Furthermore, the study found that “poor recording and lack of coherence among the information systems maintained by the GEF secretariat, the trustee, and the World Bank as implementing agency make monitoring, reporting, evaluation, and accountability very difficult in a consistent and timely manner”.

Civil society organisations are concerned that the Bank will attempt to enhance its involvement in another trust fund, the UN’s Green Climate Fund (GCF), where the Bank is the interim trustee for an initial three years from April 2012 and is likely to become an implementing agency (see Update 86). A November paper from Bangladeshi NGO alliance EquityBD argued that the Bank “is the sole agent of developed countries, the big GHG [greenhouse-gas] emitters, who never expect the Bank to relinquish the GCF after three years”.