MAC: Mines and Communities

Following was written in response to Mark Moody-Stuart's comment, but not published by FT)

Published by MAC on 2004-05-04

(Following was written in response to Mark Moody-Stuart's comment, but not published by FT)

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: Correcting some misconceptions

By Andy Whitmore, Indigenous Peoples Links

Sir, Your comment "A warning for the World Bank" (May 4, by Sir Mark Moody-Stuart of Anglo American) correctly emphasises the importance of the World Bank's recent independent review of investments in the extractive industries sectors (EIR), yet presents some misguided concerns.

An express purpose of the EIR was to review how the World Bank's investment in extractive industries complemented its mission to alleviate poverty. For the last 60 years the World Bank has been unable to provide any evidence that indicates its investments in extractive industries projects have contributed to poverty alleviation. The recommendations of the EIR do not conclude World Bank investments in the global South should be in any way reduced, and it is wrong to stipulate that implementation of the review would result in less World Bank investment for the world's poor.

An example of one of many of Mr Moody-Stuart misrepresentations is when he stated that should the recommendation for free prior and informed consent (FPIC) of affected communities be obtained, 'no road or major development would ever happen'. FPIC does not give any affected person veto power over a proposed project, but proposes that when the World Bank finance a project aimed at alleviating poverty; affected community representatives have the right to make an informed choice of their development pathway. Extractive industry companies frequently talk of the benefits their projects will bring to local communities, and so FPIC will act as a test of this, and in doing so should relieve the "social tensions" Mr. Moody-Stuart notes are often associated with such projects.

The EIR concludes that the World Bank group must invest less blindly in multinational corporations, such as Anglo American, and more within a proactive poverty alleviation strategy through sustainable development. The EIR is not about forgoing economic opportunities; it is about the World Bank taking a stance in achieving its mission, poverty alleviation. The question is not, what will World Bank money do for a project, but what will a project do to alleviate poverty?

Andy Whitmore, Indigenous Peoples Links, London, UK


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