World Bank President Jim Kim greets Riaan Matheson at the Mailtronic office in Johannesburg, South Africa. Photo: World Bank, September 6, 2012

Private sector investment is critical to end extreme poverty

28 October, 2013 | General

Six months ago, the World Bank Group established our two goals: to end extreme poverty by 2030 and boost shared prosperity for the bottom 40 percent of the population in developing countries. Meeting these goals has become the central purpose of our institution. The goals are ambitious, but we can achieve them -- if we engage all partners.

Governments must lead the way, while civil society, foundations, and multilateral organizations such as the World Bank Group will all play key roles as well.

To reach our two ambitious goals, we also need the private sector. Our strategy, which our Governors endorsed this month, includes the role of the private sector as a central focus in our fight to end extreme poverty.

Earlier this month, at a World Bank/IMF civil society forum, Oxfam International’s Executive Director Winnie Byanyima asked whether greater private sector engagement might weaken World Bank Group support for our existing social and environmental policies. As someone who co-founded an NGO that serves the poor in some of the most difficult environments in the world, I understand these concerns.

I strongly believe, though, that engaging the private sector helps protect the interests of the poor. The World Bank Group has been working with the private sector in the context of our social and environmental performance standards. Many businesses have embraced our standards. If they want to benefit from our deep local knowledge and relationships--or to use our technical expertise, investment dollars, and risk insurance--then these performance standards are the requirement of our collaboration. We don’t compromise on that.

In the past decade, the creation of millions of new jobs has driven poverty reduction worldwide. Indeed, 90 percent of all new jobs come from the private sector. Today, 200 million people in the world are looking for work, and we need to create 600 million jobs by 2020 just to keep employment constant.

We have been working with many governments to support their efforts on shaping the business environment for the private sector, which includes strengthening the regulatory environment and greater transparency to fight corruption. At the same time, we will continue working to identify private sector investment that can have a major impact in creating jobs and lifting people out of poverty.

Private sector investment at work

There are several examples of how this is working.

In Kenya, our private sector arm, IFC, has worked for nearly two decades with Vegpro Group and 1,700 small-scale farmers who supply its vegetables. Vegpro exports to Europe, complying with environmental and safety standards--which usually means higher incomes for suppliers. About three-quarters of its 7,000 employees are women who enjoy starting wages that are almost 50 percent higher than the average daily minimum.

A second example is the Ethiopia Commodity Exchange, which developed a new model focused on helping small farmers. In just three years, the Exchange grew from a small project to annual trading of $1.2 billion, with 325 members and 12,500 clients.  It has doubled some farmers’ share of the final price, and given them easier access to loans.

We must capture lessons from these types of projects in all countries. The World Bank Group must acknowledge as well that not all our private sector investments have had the success we envisioned. We are learning from failure as well.

There is no arguing the point that private sector investment is needed to stretch scarce development resources. Official development assistance, now $125 billion a year, alone won’t fund the critical investments needed to create enough jobs for the poor or to meet developing countries’ growing infrastructure needs.

Today, about $1 trillion per year in private investment flows into developing countries. If a fraction of the additional trillions of dollars currently invested in low-yielding assets were invested instead in developing countries, we could fund crucial investments that create good jobs for the poor.

Oxfam and others in civil society have worked to support private sector entrepreneurship for years now, with great success in helping the poor and vulnerable. Engaging the private sector is not about how we feel about business; it’s about how high our aspirations are for poor people. If we rely only upon foreign aid, then our aspirations are far too low.

But if we engage responsibly with the private sector, to leverage their investment and their talent, we can create far more good jobs for the poor. If we create more jobs, we can lift more people from poverty. And if we create enough jobs, we can for the first time in human history lift the stain of extreme poverty from our collective moral conscience.

Jim Yong Kim is president of the World Bank Group.

Please see also A vision in need of some clarity, by Ray Offenheiser, President of Oxfam America

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Comments

A more balanced narrative for poverty alleviation

In my recent blog 'The Clinton Global Initiative exposes disunity on the role of global capitalism in development' I argued that recent discussions at the Clinton Initiative highlights an ideological disconnect that is hampering our efforts to end poverty. On the one hand, we have a global army of committed civil society and aid workers (and donors) who believe that they are plugging the gaps left by a system of global capitalism that left unchecked would by its very nature enrich the few at the expense of the many. On the other hand, there are many, such as Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein who believe that with regards to the work done in alleviating poverty, global capitalism is “doing the bulk of it” while the role of philanthropy is “supplementary”. In my blog I argue that a third way which combines black and white to create a tone of grey which could be acceptable to all concerned.


The next generation of business leaders and philanthropists are beginning to bring the ethics of their charitable endeavours into their businesses and the professionalism of their business into their philanthropy. A Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) report, 'Future Stars of Philanthropy', revealed that 71% of wealthy people under 30 rate social responsibility as an important influence on their investment decisions, compared with 63% of over 45s and that 65% of wealthy people under 30s rated charitable activity as an important part of their wealth creation, compared with 58% of over 45s. Clearly then, the next generation are increasingly likely to see social responsibility as important in how they earn their money as well as how they spend it.


It is time that we put our ideological debate about who has more of an impact on ending poverty and focussed that energy on working together to end it.


Please have a look at my blog and the related CAF project,'Future World Giving' to engage further in the discussion.

Private sector yes, but at which scale?

 

It would be irresponsible to ignore the private sector as an engine of job creation. The more interesting question is, which type of private sector companies should the World Bank work with and focus on? Big construction and mining companies which create few jobs but have strong lobbies, or the small enterprises which are integrated in local economies and create the bulk of the jobs for the poor?

The World Bank is presenting the Inga 3 Dam in the DRC as a model for the kind of infrastructure it intends to fund under IDA 17. Inga 3 is being proposed as a public-private partnership and will export its electricity to the mining provinces and South Africa – in a country where less than 10 percent of the population have access to electricity. The director of the existing Inga power plant comments: “The problem is that, with a PPP, you patch up only the part of the grid that interests private financiers.”

The offgrid solutions that are more effective at reaching rural communities in Africa are also provided by private sector companies, and create jobs where they are most needed. They have so far only received the crumbs of multilateral finance. Supporting them would require a shift in the World Bank’s thinking and business model.

The Food Factor

The issues are well known and continuously discussed. Innumerable individuals and institutions are providing solutions. For all schools in all countries the availability of land, water and people allow for the local production of commons food, integrated with education. The public school garden or community garden simultaneously becomes the central "laboratory" and the source of healthy food for communities. Education for life includes education for all about healthy food, its production, preparation, consumption and celebration. Teach the teachers, teachers teach children, children teach and show families on "surplus" healthy food production. We in Australia do it. Any community can do it. Any school can do it. Any child can do it. We can teach schools how to do it. Do, show, tell, eat, give or sell.

Doubtful example?

Farmers refusing to sell their coffee beans through ECX are said to receive harsh punishments. I was told most experts familiar with this PPP would consider it more an example of a highly interventionist state that enforces the direction of development rather than an example of a state encouraging PPP by removing information externalities and addressing collective action problems from a more liberal perspective. Hence, this example seems to hide an interesting tension between a possible trade-off between the efficiency of economic development and the nature of governance (similar to e.g. Rwanda or Singapore). This would benefit from being brought out and debated.

Oh you mean 5 star hotels and the like

Oh yes, we've heard all about the World Bank's private sector developments. This would be the same Bank that jointly funds a 5 star hotel with one of the richest men in the world. 

And while it's at it: 

"It has funded fast-food chains like Domino’s Pizza in South Africa and Kentucky Fried Chicken in Jamaica. It invests in upscale shopping malls in Egypt, Ghana, the former Soviet republics, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia. It backs candy-shop chains in Argentina and Bangladesh; breweries with global beer behemoths like SABMiller and with other breweries in the Czech Republic, Laos, Romania, Russia, and Tanzania; and soft-drink distribution for the likes of Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and their competitors in Cambodia, Ethiopia, Mali, Russia, South Sudan, Uzbekistan, and more."

You're definitely making the world a fairer place. 

As this is an Oxfam blog, i thought maybe someone should put a social justice perspective. But feel rather out of place.  

 

Clarification

Just to clarify for Nick and others. While this post is on an Oxfam blog, it is a Jim Kim's post not an Oxfam post and it does not mean we agree with all what Jim Kim says.

Learning from failures or repeating mistakes

President Kim says the World Bank’s social and environmental performance standards are a requirement to collaborate with businesses and “we don’t compromise on that”. However, an audit released just last week by one of the Bank’s own watchdogs (the Compliance Advisor/Ombudsman – CAO) found that the Bank’s private sector arm (the International Finance Corporation – IFC) committed serious violations of its mandatory safeguards in financing its client which manages the Tata Mundra coal plant in India. The IFC rejected the audit’s findings. “By clearing the IFC response, President Kim sends a clear message that he supports his staff’s denial of science, of expert findings and endorses management’s avoidance of accountability,” said Bharat Patel in a press release. The local fishing communities filed the complaint to the CAO in June 2011 because of the “deterioration of water quality and fish populations, forced displacement of fishermen, community health impacts due to air emissions” among others. It will be interesting to see what Kim does next given that he writes “we are learning from failure as well”.

Kim argues the private sector should be the main engine to create “good jobs” because an estimated 90 percent of new jobs are created by the private sector. As analysis of the 2013 World Development Report highlighted IFI investments should be “evaluated in terms of their net impact on job numbers, both direct and indirect, and on job quality”. These jobs should be stable, adequately paid and have good working conditions.

A central theme of Kim’s blog is that overseas development aid of $125 billion a year will not be enough to tackle global poverty. He proposes engaging “responsibly with the private sector, to leverage their investment and their talent”. As our report ‘Leveraging’ private sector finance highlights there are risks with this approach such as the private sector’s interests in profitability taking precedence over development outcomes.
 
In assessing the role of the private sector in reducing poverty it is worth mentioning the important trend of the World Bank (and other regional development banks) to increasingly channel funds via financial intermediaries, such as private equity funds and hedge funds. The IFC now allocates over half of its funds to financial intermediaries. However, the lack of transparency means it is very difficult to know what impact these investments have. Earlier this year the CAO released an audit which concluded that the IFC lacks sufficient information to know if its lending has negative environmental or social impacts. Before putting more emphasis on private sector investments the Bank should show what the full development impact is of existing investments.

Read more on the World Bank’s track record at: http://www.brettonwoodsproject.org/

Good to see Oxfam recognizing the private sector

Good to see an NGO like Oxfam recognizing the private sector exists, creates jobs, pays taxes and delivers useful services (like cell phones) - which even NGO workers use.

It's so ironic how many hippy NGO workers there are, who publicly lambast the private sector, yet happily work for NGOs that are funded by taxes (paid by said private sector companies), and happily use services provided by the private sector.

 

Private sector for sure -- but what about power and rights?

Great to see the World Bank thinking deliberately about the role of private sector in development.  At Oxfam, we have long recognized the importance of markets to address poverty.  But economic growth cannot be viewed as an end in itself.  Too often, growth comes with corruption, inequality, exploitation and further marginalization of those living in poverty.  The challenge is in channeling growth to pro-poor ends.  That journey must begin with the premise that poverty is driven as much by a lack of power as by a lack of stuff -- the central tenet of President Jim Kim's former NGO, Partners in Health, which has done as much to promote a "rights-based' approach to health as any other group.

Power is much more challenging than stuff -- it requires an unrelenting focus on issues of transparency, accountability, participation.  It looks beyond investment flows, to budget transparency; beyond jobs to worker rights; beyond ag investment, to empowering coops and land rights.  

As President Kim notes, the World Bank can help leverage and channel $billions in private sector investment to places like Africa, but where we really need the Bank's support (as a legitimizer of norms and a mouthpiece) is ensuring that those dollars empower farmers, workers, communities and anti-corruption advocates.  Growth suggests an ever-expanding pie where poor and rich can benefit equally, but decision-making on resource development, on taxes, on labor standards, on gender rights, is a zero sum game. The World Bank must be scrupulous in ensuring that it's interventions do not serve to tilt the game further towards the already powerful. With all the powerful actors (IFIs, gov'ts, MNCs) already focused on investment and jobs, the World Bank should be asking not only about the role of private sector in development, but the role of power (and private sector) in development.

Solid analysis needed for better development impact

It may be stating the obvious to say that the impacts of the private sector on development are as diverse as the private sector itself but it does bear repeating. Ultimately this understanding is important for unlocking the (we would agree with Dr Kim) significant role of the private sector in development.

It also makes it slightly meaningless to say you are either "for" or "against" the private sector. Whether you are a private sector optimist or pessimist matters less than whether you have based your approach to the private sector on a full and balanced analysis.

Our experience and research tells us a few things:

First, that it is essential to ensure that the right framework is in place to minimize the risks and impacts of core business activities on human rights and the environment and maximize the benefits. This is relevant to the Bank's current reflections on its safeguards policies. It is also important that as the Bank continues their work to support government “efforts on shaping the business environment for the private sector” and “identifying private sector investment” opportunities that the inequalities in terms of political access and lobbying influence are taken into account.

Second, that the local, small-scale domestic sector is an underrated and under invested often neglected part of the "private sector" in development thinking and strategies.

The World Bank is a case in point – at a CAFOD-ITUC sponsored meeting at the World Bank annual meetings we discovered that the Bank does not have a strategy for supporting small businesses, despite their critical role as a source of jobs and route out of poverty for the majority of poor men and women (email smontgomery@cafod.org.uk if you would like a summary of this event). The Bank does not even have a good definition of what a “small business” is and its spend on supporting them is relatively insignificant.

We hope that this will change under the new strategy. And certainly things look a little promising. One of the biggest offenders (and most high profile projects) of the Bank – Doing Business – has been the subject of a far-reaching review and we hope, on the road to reform.

Doing Business is ill-suited to the needs of small businesses. Its definition of a model firm is a far cry from the reality of small businesses in most developing countries (being formal, export-oriented, located in the capital and having more than 60 employees, for example) and the reforms that it encourages governments to carry out bear little relevance to their priorities or needs. This is why India can rank highly for “Getting Credit” when that is precisely the major obstacle for the majority of small businesses in that country. (Fur further resources on the Doing Business project see here).

The World Bank is not alone in having a small business “blind spot”. Recent CAFOD research uncovered some useful lessons for donors and governments on the priorities and approaches that suit small businesses in developing countries.

The bottom line is, private sector involvement can mean and look like many different things. Research and evidence from the ground would point to the fact that “Thinking Small” needs to be the next big thing at the Bank if it is to achieve its new corporate goals of shared prosperity and poverty eradication.

Beyond lending targets, show us the results

There is little doubt that the greater, well governed private sector investment is critical to meeting the World Bank’s strategic goals.  How the World Bank can leverage the most effective private investment for the job of reducing poverty and improving equity remains the question.  President Kim argues that the Bank has done well until now, but can do much better.  We agree.

However, we are concerned that we have heard more from President Kim about changes to the enabling environment at the Bank, and less about any specific changes to the specific financial instruments.  The ongoing diversification of lending instruments at the Bank toward the use of less well safeguarded or accountable alternatives is of particular concern given the lack of a comprehensive and uniform framework to manage risks.  Selectivity, as the Bank’s new strategy emphasizes, must also apply to an open, evidence-based assessment of which of the Bank’s instruments will be most effective in reaching these goals.

First we might observe the relative weights of the different financial instruments in the Bank’s toolkit.  In FY13, for the first time ever the IFC outpaced IBRD and IDA in terms of total volume of Bank-wide investment.  The expansion and innovation of IFC support to clients is, from a lending perspective, impressive.

 

At the same time, we see the 63% of IFC investment this year was through financial intermediaries (other banks, insurance, private equity, and micro-credits businesses).  The phenomenal growth the FI lending has been a major cause for concern.  Are these FI investments reducing poverty and promoting shared prosperity?  Does the IFC know? 

Recent reports by the IEG, the Bank’s independent evaluation unit and the IFC’s compliance advisor and ombudsman (CAO) suggest that the answer is by no means clear. Expanding access to banking services through FI lending is undoubtedly leading to some job creation.  However, when it comes to identifying the number, quality and duration of these jobs, and at what cost or benefit, if any, to other public and private goods – much less is known about how well IFC has targeted its investments toward clients and activities that are the most pro-poor, socially inclusive and sustainable. 

The fact is that there is a lack of evidence for the most part to draw robust conclusions about results for much of IFC investment, because the IFC does not yet disclose project monitoring reports, project level evaluations, or project level results.  Beyond anecdotal success stories and lending targets, the President must remove these doubts about the extent of IFC’s contribution to inclusive and environmentally sustainable development in the new strategy.

Second, the objective of truly acting as One World Bank Group remains an unrealized strategic challenge.  The absence of greater strategic coordination and joint investment between the public and private arms of the World Bank has been rightly underscored as a missed opportunity for leveraging better results. 

However, joining the best of what the public and private expertise of the Bank has to offer should not come at the expense of what remains integral, unique and necessarily different about each.  This careful upward harmonization of standards is the task of the ongoing safeguards policy review and if done properly, could help the Bank deliver on its promise. 

However, it would be a mistake for the Bank to integrate public and private by adopting the IFC’s safeguard regime wholesale.  The recent approval of a new operational policy (OP 4.03) to have the IFC Performance Standards apply to jointly financed public and private partnership projects is case in point.  Having the World Bank Group apply the IFC’s aspirational approach to safeguard compliance for PPP candidates in contexts of weak governance or complex regional impacts such as the Guinea Simandou Iron Ore Project, the Kosovo Coal fired Power Plant, Cameroon Lom Pangar Hydropower Project, among others, does not inspire confidence. 

The Bank has the potential to catalyze the appropriate sequencing of public and private investment where adequate incentives for such partnerships are lacking.  To do so, clear and accountable safeguards are required.  BIC, among other civil society organizations, has put forward detailed proposals for how this can be done. 

Unambiguous criteria for institutional capacity, timely strategic risk assessment, transparency and participation, and independent or third party monitoring and verification of results are some of the non-negotiable a priori commitments that ensure taking the risks involved in many of these types of projects will in fact reduce poverty and inequality in a sustainable way.  Unless high risk activities are adequately safeguarded the Bank’s goals will elude any amount of additional leverage.

President Kim’s Rhetoric Falls Short of His Actions

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World Bank President Jim Kim stated that the Bank must learn lessons from its successful private sector investments in order to reach its goal of ending extreme poverty.  Interestingly, he highlights two projects designed to assist small farmers.  What is missing, and where other critical lessons must be learned, is a thorough review of the Bank’s projects that fuel inequity and environmental damage.  As I see in my work at Accountability Counsel, many Bank projects harm the very communities the Bank is mandated to help.  Such harm is particularly acute given President Kim’s recent abandonment of the Bank’s own system of checks and balances that is supposed to ensure that the Bank’s social and environmental standards are followed and that problems are corrected.  So the problem is twofold: the Bank is sticking with an outdated model of development that doesn’t serve the poor, while failing to ensure basic protections for vulnerable groups affected by those projects.

President Kim announced in September that the “time to address the interlinked challenges of climate change and ending extreme poverty is now.”  If that’s the case, we have some unanswered questions about why the Bank is funding extractive industry projects that have negative climate impacts and don’t address extreme poverty.

My organization works with Mongolian herders in the South Gobi desert who are fighting to defend their water rights and land for their herds, which are their livelihoods, in the face of a massive Rio Tinto-operated copper and gold mine.  The mining project is supported by the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC), which has not adequately dealt with the coal-fired power plant that will likely fuel this mine.  As IFC begins an infusion of investment into this mine, the herders are not being lifted out of poverty, and it is uncertain whether the project will even positively impact the Mongolian economy given the conflicts the company is having with the Mongolian government.  Rio Tinto arguably does not qualify as a driver of poverty alleviation and therefore its project should not receive World Bank support.  Countless other World Bank Group projects perpetuate this outdated “development” model, which we know from experience enriches elites at the expense of vulnerable host communities.  Another example is our case in the Peruvian Amazon, where the IFC financed Maple Energy to expand its polluting oil extraction project that had poisoned, and then with IFC investment continued to poison, local indigenous villages. 

Despite President Kim’s rhetoric, the Bank’s fossil fuel funding increased in this year’s portfolio instead of decreasing.  Moreover, even if President Kim fulfills his commitment to steer the institution toward addressing climate change, the Bank will still have trouble achieving positive development outcomes.

The Bank suffers from an “accountability gap” – many of its projects cause human rights abuses and environmental destruction, but it can’t be sued because of its sovereign status.  It solved this problem partly in the 1990s with the creation of the Inspection Panel and the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO), accountability offices created at the demand of civil society to address abusive Bank projects.  These offices provide people harmed by the Bank with a forum to raise grievances and seek redress.  Accountability Counsel specializes in helping communities learn about and effectively use these offices.  But recently, we have seen a disturbing trend -- the Bank has been ignoring the findings of its accountability offices.  The accountability gap is returning. 

President Kim talks about “social accountability” leading to positive development outcomes, but has not applied the principle to his own institution.  In order for accountability to improve development outcomes, Bank Management, under President Kim’s leadership, must address the Panel’s and CAO’s findings of non-compliance with Bank social and environmental at the project level and feed lessons learned into future practice.  Instead, Bank Management has been ignoring, or worse, denying the findings of these independent investigations.  The Tata Mundra case is the latest example.  The CAO found a number of violations of IFC social and environmental policies at this Indian coal-fired power plant, but President Kim accepted an IFC Management response that denied the problems and committed to no corrective actions.  Vulnerable fisherfolk whose livelihoods have been destroyed by the project were ignored by the Bank when it committed to the project in the first place, are still being ignored by President Kim today.

President Kim has the opportunity to create a legacy as a changemaker at the Bank.  He surely has the experience and the vision to be able to change this behemoth of an institution.  In order to truly live up to his rhetoric and drive the Bank toward achieving positive development outcomes, President Kim must demand that the Bank own up to failed projects that require remedial action and meaningfully learn the hard lessons that those failures teach.  President Kim’s current course will lead the Bank back to its dirty, unaccountable past. 

A Curious Case of Déjà Vu

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The World Bank Group has a new Strategy, which outlines how it will tackle its two goals ofending extreme poverty by 2030 and promoting shared prosperity for the bottom 40 percent of the population in developing countries. As part of that Strategy, World Bank Group President Jim Kim highlighted the central role of the private sector in the Bank’s fight to end extreme poverty, saying that “engaging the private sector helps protect the interests of the poor.”

Private sector development is not a panacea to poverty. Without the necessary elements in place (for example, good governance, respect for human rights), private sector engagement can deepen the cycle of poverty. Ten years ago, the Chad-Cameroon Pipeline was one of Africa’s largest public-private development projects funded by a three-company oil consortium, the World Bank, and its private sector arm, the International Finance Corporation, with the promise that the oil revenue would be used to reduce poverty. (Read about the project here.) That promise, as predicted by the affected communities, was never fulfilled. Is this the kind of private sector project the new Strategy has in mind? Has the Bank already forgotten about the Chad-Cameroon Pipeline?

Perhaps.

A few weeks ago, during World Bank/IMF Annual Meetings, Delphine Djiraibe, a Chadian human rights lawyer and a member of CIEL’s Board, asked President Kim what, if anything, the Bank had learned from the Chad-Cameroon Project – one of the most controversial and emblematic Bank projects in the last ten years, the subject of NGO and IEG reports, and complaints to the Inspection Panel and the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman. President Kim hadn’t heard about it.

The picture painted by Delphine and others at the next day’s panel, was a grim one. They spoke of a war-torn Chad, one of the poorest countries in the world, where political instability lingers; of the project resulting in the displacement of indigenous communities from their lands; and of the ecological degradation that threatened a fishing community’s livelihoods. I heard accounts of how the project increased gender inequality and how, for example, the project led to a decrease in women’s livelihoods and an increase in prostitution. The project suffered from corruption and revenue mismanagement. Millions of dollars—rather than going to community health or education—were spent on weapons. The IEG found that not only were the project goals of capacity building and poverty reduction not met, but there was conclusive evidence that governance had sharply declined. For the communities that Delphine has worked with, their lives are worse because of the World Bank Group’s involvement.

Strategy: Take higher risk to maximize development impacts.Would the WBG invest in Chad-Cameroon under the new Strategy if it were proposed for financing today? Let’s take a look:

Chad-Cameroon: Yes.

Strategy: Invest in transformational projects, including projects with large footprints.
Chad-Cameroon:
 Check.

Strategy: Increase investment in in fragile and conflict-affected states—countries with poor governance, weak institutional capacity, political instability, and, sometimes, continued violence from a conflict.
Chad-Cameroon:
 Chad certainly qualifies.

Strategy: Develop partnerships with the private sector.
Chad-Cameroon:
 Most definitely.

Will history repeat itself? Will the Bank learn from Chad-Cameroon, and if so, how?

It’s time the Bank commits to development that respects human rights—a commitment backed by the right tools and resources. Human rights made a brief cameo in the Strategy. It’s a good start, but the Bank, as the leading public development institution, will need to do better. The environmental, social, and human rights risks were not sufficiently considered in Chad-Cameroon. If the Bank continues its gamble with high risk, it should acknowledge and account for all the risks involved, including human rights. According to the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, “[t]he best way of ensuring that the principles of equality and non-discrimination are respected in the context of large scale development projectsis the use of human rights impact assessments.

If the Bank’s risky gamble doesn’t pan out, communities and the environment will pay the price.

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