Foreclosing the Future: The World Bank and the Politics of Environmental Destruction

Bruce Rich. Island, $35 (344p) ISBN 978-1-61091-184-9
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In his latest book, lawyer Rich (Mortgaging the Earth), a knowledgeable critic, focuses on the World Bank’s environmental failures. Typical of the book’s horror stories is the example of the Chad-Cameroon project. Although oil extraction would seem incompatible with the goal of combating global warming, the World Bank pledged $350 million in 2001 to the $8 billion project, intending for governments in Chad and Cameroon to use their oil revenue to help the poor in those counties. Instead, Chad’s revenue paid for arms and security for corrupt President Idriss Deby. Cameroon, despite producing huge oil profits, failed to fund two new national parks or a plan to assist the indigenous Pygmy population. The undertaking, however, provided Exxon with huge profits in 2006 and 2007. The author documents similar catastrophes—environmental, economic, and political—elsewhere and chides the organization for its feeble defense: that private-sector funding for economic development would come with fewer safeguards and result in more rapacious policies. The World Bank’s current president, Jim Yong Kim, an international health reformer, provides some hope for change, though Rich suggests that he too may succumb to the organization’s culture and politics. The World Bank appears to understand only first-world solutions to third-world development problems. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/29/2013
Release date: 09/01/2013
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 321 pages - 978-1-61091-228-0
Paperback - 978-1-61091-185-6
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