(Washington, DC) – Members of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee have released a letter sent to U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew calling on the Treasury to be prevent the proposed dilution of the World Bank’s environmental and social safeguard policies. The World Bank is in the final stages of drafting a new set of safeguards which are likely to lead to increased risks to the communities and the environment affected by World Bank projects around the world.
Senators Barbara Boxer, Benjamin L. Cardin, Robert Menendez, and Edward J. Markey reminded the Treasury Department of the legal requirements mandated by the U.S. Appropriations Act. These requirements mandate that the U.S. Treasury vote against any weakening of World Bank environmental and social protections, and to vote against all projects proposed by the World Bank under weakened safeguards.
The letter calls attention to substantial problems with the World Bank’s plans to replace existing environmental and social safeguards, including weakening:
- mechanisms for transparency, oversight, and accountability, public comment;
- due diligence requirements for the use of borrower systems in place of Bank requirements;
- coverage for displaced peoples, biodiversity, forest-dependent peoples and financial intermediaries;
- the ban on the destruction of critical habitat, protected areas and nature reserves;
- access to the Inspection Panel by affected communities.
The Senators urge that Treasury Secretary Lew “maintain U.S. leadership at the World Bank to prevent the dilution of existing protections and ensure that strong mandatory and legally-binding safeguards are put in place and implemented, protecting our investments as well as social and environmental interests.”