Thursday, November 26, 2009

Hope for the Establishment?

Well, the World Bank is a dirty word in some circles. But I've recently had some experiences that suggest the Global Justice Movement might have influenced The Bank.

Perhaps, the cynic would say, the following statistic is just the Bank engaging in self-promotion the justify their own existence.

According to the World Bank, 75-80 of the effects of climate change are being felt in the developing world. So, you have this inverse relationship between cause and effect.

But another take is that the Bank is, 1) acknowledging the existence of climate change, something the Palinistas won't do, and 2) providing evidence for a legal challenge with reparations as the remedy.

By chance I discussed the changes at the World Bank with someone who is #2 for a particular geographic region. In response to a question about changes at the Bank over the past decade, he said that the Bank has deeply changed it's perspective on two things. First, the Bank recognizes the use of "structural adjustments" as a condition of loans was bad policy, in part because it was coercive. Thus, nations would do what was necessary to secure the loans, but were not really committed to the changes.

Second, and related to the first, was to take a more holistic view of the loans, recognizing distribution issues and social issues. In other words, recognizing that the results of the loans need to affect a broader spectrum of people in the recipient country, with particular attention on impacts of the poorest people.

The purpose here isn't to praise the World Bank as much as it is to point to the success of the Global Justice Movement in helping raise the consciousness of an institution like the World Bank.


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