Summary of "International Banks and the Environment -- From Growth to Sustainability: An Unfinished Agenda"

 

Summary of

International Banks and the Environment -- From Growth to Sustainability: An Unfinished Agenda

By Raymond F. Mikesell and Larry Williams

Summary written by T.A. O'Lonergan, Conflict Research Consortium


Citation: International Banks and the Environment -- From Growth to Sustainability: An Unfinished Agenda, Raymond F. Mikesell and Larry Williams, (San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1992), 292 pp.


International Banks and the Environment - From Growth to Sustainability: An Unfinished Agenda is an examination and evaluation of the projects undertaken in the world's poorest countries with funds from Multilateral Development Banks (primarily The World Bank) for the degree to which the projects promote sustainable development.

International Banks and the Environment - From Growth to Sustainability: An Unfinished Agenda will be of interest to those who seek an understanding of the relationship between Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) and global sustainable development. The first chapter is an introduction which explains the purpose of the book in such lucid and succinct terms that it will be quoted from extensively. Chapter two "... describes the operations of MDBs and the evolution of their policies, with special reference to the environment. ... [with critical examination of] the procedures MDBs follow to carry out their announced environmental policies ...".

Chapter three is an examination of how environmental principles might be integrated with traditional development policies. The authors assert that an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is a useful means for this integration. Further, they note that it is only recently that MDBs have begun to require such a statement for proposed projects. Chapters four through seven are concerned with "... an analysis of the environmental problems associated with projects and programs in the major economic sectors - agriculture, forestry, livestock, power mining, and infrastructure. ... Much of the discussion draws on case histories of projects supported by MDBs and bilateral aid agencies, often recording environmental failures with disastrous consequences." These case studies include projects or programs in : India, Sudan, Ghana, Northwest Thailand, and Egypt. These case studies are contained in appendices to chapter four. Other appendices to this chapter include an examination of environmental effects commonly associated with irrigation projects and a summary of major environmental factors in dam projects.

Chapter eight examines the relationship between structural adjustment loans (SALs) and the environment. SALs are loans which are directed toward development that is not centered on a particular project. Chapter nine addresses the external influences on MDBs with particular attention paid to the low-key, yet effective efforts of non-governmental organizations on legislative bodies who deal with MDBs. The final chapter summarizes "... the most important ... conclusions on MDB policies and operations as they relate to ... sustainable development".

International Banks and the Environment - From Growth to Sustainability: An Unfinished Agenda is a careful, often less than flattering, examination on MDBs, particularly The World Bank. The authors offer abundant criticisms of such banks and suggestions to assist MDBs to overcome their historical disregard for the environmental consequences of the projects and programs they support.