What follows are summaries of the OED main report and of the six country studies which the OED carried out as part of the FPIRS process. In the summaries, we have aimed at highlighting those aspects which we believe to be more relevant, trying not to include our own opinions, some of which we add at the end of each summary. We strongly urge, however, all those intending to participate directly or indirectly in the FPIRS process to also read the full studies, given that neither our summary nor the official OED studies' summaries reflect the rich information contained in the full texts. OED Main Report
Bulletin Issue 31 – February 2000
The World Bank
THE FOCUS OF THIS ISSUE: The World BankThe World Bank is currently embarked in a process to review the implementation of its 1991 Forest Policy, while simultaneously trying to develop a new forest strategy. Within that process, the Bank has organized a series of consultations, among which eight regional and one country (Brazil) consultations, open to civil society organizations. Much of the consultation will be based on the findings of the Bank's Operations Evaluation Department (OED), which carried out six country studies (Brazil, Cameroon, China, Costa Rica, India and Indonesia), all of which served as the basis for its main report. It is therefore crucial that participants at the consultations analyse critically those documents, in order to ensure their full and informed participation in the process. At the same time, there are many more people interested either on the Bank's activities or on forests, which will not be attending the consultations. In order to facilitate participation and input from participants and non-participants, the WRM decided to focus this bulletin entirely on the issue, providing both our viewpoint and summaries of all the OED findings. At the same time, we created a specific area within our web page, to facilitate access to further information (including the full texts of the OED studies) and opinion on the process ( http://www.wrm.org.uy/english/tropical_forests/WorldBank.html ). Whatever view one might have about the positive or negative role that the World Bank can have on people and the environment -particularly forests- one cannot ignore that the Bank is a major player within the current globalized scenario. In consequence, we decided to play a role in trying to positively influence this major actor, and this bulletin is aimed at that. We sincerely hope it may serve that purpose.
WORLD BANK’S FOREST POLICY REVIEW
20 February 2000The OED report considers that even if the Bank influenced the ongoing process of forest policy reform in Cameroon, it "made no provisions for implementation or enforcement of those provisions". The document states that the Bank did not attempt all the right and relevant things prescribed by the 1991 policy, and made several mistakes from a strategic point of view. As a result there is a gap between the stated policies and their implementation.
20 February 2000The World Bank's work in China's forest and forest-related sectors is portrayed as highly successful by the report, though including a number of recommendations for future work to address some current constraints.
20 February 2000The Report considers that since most of the post-1991 projects in India have not been completed, it is not possible to evaluate them. Nevertheless, it points out that implementation progress is considered satisfactory, but performance among different states varies. During the two decades in which the Bank has been involved in the forest sector in that country, the design and implementation of its projects have allegedly improved substantially. Additionally, according to the study, the Bank has contributed to the implementation of India's forest strategy -which is said to have considerable congruence with the Bank's 1991 Policy- by providing funds for the forest sector.
20 February 2000The OED Report starts by highlighting that the so called "Indonesian miracle" was the result of an export-led strategy in which forest resources were viewed "as an asset to be liquidated to support (its) growth strategy, establishing Indonesia as a world leader in the export of tropical forest products". At present the rate of deforestation reaches 1.5 million hectares per year, being commercial logging its main cause. This unsustainable use of forests has been accompanied by a highly inequitable distribution of benefits.
19 February 2000The importance of a review on the implementation of the Bank's 1991 Forest Policy in Brazil hardly needs to be stressed, given that the country contains almost 27 percent of the remaining moist tropical forests in the world. The OED study states that the average annual forest loss in the Amazon (some 13,000 sq.km/year in the post 1991 period) has slowed down compared to the pre-1991 period, but adding that the precise extent of forest loss remains ambiguous. At the same time, Brazil has been one of the Bank's largest borrowers.
19 February 2000The OED study on Costa Rica appears to be more focused in showing the achievements of the Costa Rican government and in supporting its policies than in evaluating the World Bank's implementation of its 1991 forest policy. However, the report contains interesting elements in this regard.
19 February 2000The World Bank is apparently willing to play a major role in the promotion of tree plantations. This can mean good or bad news, depending on the type of plantations it is willing to promote. The country studies provide useful -though incomplete- information on the issue, which we believe the Bank should use as a starting point for its own research on the positive and negative impacts of different types of plantations. It appears clearly that large-scale monoculture tree plantations should not be promoted, given their negative environmental impacts and their few positive social effects.
19 February 2000The current FPIRS process seems to be coming out with a number of ideas for the future Bank's approach to forests, some of which clearly expressed while others underlying though carrying an equally clear message. Most of these ideas are included in the OED report -whose reading we recommend- but we would like to concentrate on a few of them, which we consider to be more important.