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World Bank admits ommissions in forestry reforms in the Congo
Although they defend their overall policy toward forestry and development in the Congo, the World Bank recently admitted certain ommissions in forestry reforms that would have been beneficial to the country and its forest inhabitants. In this ongoing story (see our previous blog on the issue), the World Bank admitted to not performing an environmental impact assessment, which they now acknowledge would have been beneficial. Furthermore, they failed to take into account some 300,000-500,000 pygmies that live in the forests and depend on the forests for their livelihoods. The World Bank also failed to earmark parts of the forests for alternative uses, and admits that the situation in the Congo is far from satisfactory.
Global Witness, a natural resources watchdog, recently reported that there is limited reporting on forest production, and often felling doesn't have the appropriate authorization. Forestry licences are also being altered and issued, despite a moratorium on new concessions. The International Finance Corporation, the World Bank's private-sector financing arm, is investigating reports of malpractice by Olam, a Singapore-based commodity trading house, in which the IFC holds a share. The reports assert that Olam facilitated illegal and destructive logging by supplying equipment and supplies to third party sources. The IFC maintains it takes these allegations seriously and will be looking into them.
On December 20, the board of the World Bank will discuss the complaints lodged by the pygmy groups, and investigation into illegal logging in the Congo continues.
Posted By Alexandra O'Brien at 9:06am on December 10, 2007
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