What is the future for regional social and environmental policies? GREFI sets out challenges after the WB annual meetings

What is the future for regional social and environmental policies? GREFI sets out challenges after the WB annual meetings

As members of the Regional Financial and Infrastructure Group (GREFI)*, we wish to share some of our thoughts on the ongoing processes and on the challenges that lie before us as civil society organizations. Our thinking is the result of our working week in Lima, in the context of the World Bank and IMF annual meetings, and of the “Desmintiendo el Milagro Peruano” alternative event (« Denying the Peruvian Miracle »), which all occurred from the 5 to the 12th of October 2015.

1. First, we wish to thank the efforts of all the people and institutions that turned the alternative forum into a space to discuss the role international financial institutions have in our region and in the world.

2. We created a space in which thousands of people, many organizations and social movements took part. We hope this space has fostered the creation of networks that will help continuing this cooperation.

3. This space allowed us to raise other perspectives on the financing for development processes. These processes have a significant impact on the environment and on people’s rights. They also consolidate decision-making processes which are actually disconnected from the people they are supposed to benefit.

4. We believe that a major merit of this shared effort was the connection between demands which came from different levels and actors. In this way, systemic claims were made regarding the extractivism model and also regarding global decision-making processes which haven not incorporated participation and accountability mechanisms.

5. We were able to connect the weakening processes of socio-environmental standard in international financial institutions, with similar processes occurring at a local level. These processes imply either the significant weakening of socio-environmental legal guarantees, or the lack of enforcement of these guarantees. These processes generate a large number of socio-environmental conflicts, in which many different rights are being infringed.

6. In this context, we also note the massive demonstration, which conveyed another message to the official meetings, raising many claims.

Regarding the challenges that lie before us, we hope to keep making the effort of connecting global debates with local and regional needs. In this respect, we especially that this is especially applicable to the ongoing discussions around the World Bank safeguard policies.

On that point, and regarding the elements above, we are especially concerned by the dynamics of competition, which could weaken protection frameworks, as they give more importance to the action of the World Bank as a financial entity rather than to its role as an actor of development policies. Besides, regarding the weakening of legal frameworks in national and regional contexts, we are concerned about the decision to rely on country systems without creating mechanisms of implementation review.

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Perhaps this could explain why the World Bank kept going forward in this process, despite a widespread disapproval. In our experience in Lima, we were able to connect many different demands, gather them in one sole opposition strategy and connect these claims with the local and regional contexts. Perhaps this experience will be the starting point of future collective efforts.

* GREFI is composed of four civil society organizations of the Latin American and Caribbean Region: Ambiente y Sociedad (AAS, « Environment and Society ») from Colombia, Derecho Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (DAR, « Law Environment and Natural Resources ») from Peru, Centro de Análisis e Investigación (Fundar « Analysis and Research Center »), from Mexico, and the Fundación para el Desarrollo de Políticas Sustentables (FUNDEPS, « Foundation for the Development of Sustainable Policies ») from Argentina.

For further information: www.grefi.info

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