Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach

Care for Creation: A Priority for the World Bank?

November 13, 2013

  Jane Ngugi, CCAO Intern

“Nurturing and cherishing creation is a command God gives not only at the beginning of history, but to each of us. It is part of his plan; it means causing the world to grow responsibly, transforming it so that it may be a garden, a habitable place for everyone” – Pope Francis.

As a native of a developing country, I often heard of the World Bank as an altruistic organization that sought to eradicate poverty in developing nations. Naturally I respected this organization that would restore our dignity by ending poverty, our worst antagonist. Years later, I came to learn that in fact, the World Bank’s antagonistic dealings with developing nations seemed to benefit private sectors at the expense of environmental, economic and human rights of civil society.

The World Bank has a long history of funding projects regardless of their devastating impacts both on local populations and on our planet. The World Bank supported (with more than $300 million in loans) the most damaging project in the Amazon project which caused massive landslides, deforestation, contaminated rivers and streams.[i]

The World Bank/IMF annual meeting, held on October 13 in Washington DC, approved Bank President Jim Yong Kim’s mandate for World Bank reform, which proposes to build low-carbon cities, and climate-smart agriculture. But based on the Bank’s track record, civil society has reason to be skeptical about these new policies,[v] especially when some of the energy solutions include lending for large hydropower and gas projects.

A letter to the Bank President from  19 civil society organizations and networks stated: “In a period of growing hydrological uncertainty, focusing support on centralized dams will also increase the climate vulnerability of poor countries that are already highly hydro-dependent.”[vi]

Ecological justice ought to be a commitment for World Bank Group. As Pope Francis stated, “Human ecology and environmental ecology go hand in hand.”


[i] World Development movement. http://www.wdm.org.uk/our-campaign-climate-justice. n.d. 30 October 2013.

[ii] Bosshard, et al. “International rivers Network.” 2003. www.internationalrivers.org. Environmental Defense, Friends of the Earth, International Rivers Network.

[iii] (www.brentwoodprojects.org)

[iv] (World Development movement)

[v] (www.brettonwoodproject.org)

[vi] Bosshard, Peter. 13 September 2013. www.internationalrivers.org. 30 October 2013.

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