Sunday, December 15, 2013

World Bank Funding Challenged Over Support for Mega-Dams

World Bank Funding Challenged Over Support for Mega-Dams
International Rivers, December 15, 2013

As the World Bank makes an effort to raise billions of dollars for its
IDA fund, civil society groups are calling on governments to shift their
support for energy projects from the Bank to institutions that
prioritize clean local energy sources for the poor.

The World Bank will ask donor governments to replenish the International
Development Association, its fund for the poorest countries, at a
conference in Moscow on December 16-17. The Bank plans to finance a new
generation of controversial mega-dams, including the Inga 3 Dam on the
Congo River, from the IDA fund.

Ahead of the fundraising party in Moscow, civil society groups are
calling on donor governments to shift $1.6 billion - the amount IDA has
traditionally spent for destructive energy projects - from the World
Bank's IDA fund to institutions that support clean local energy
solutions. Civil society groups are supporting the call with petitions
and advocacy work as part of the Power 4 People campaign. Groups will
also organize a protest at the World Bank meeting in Moscow on December 16.

"Poor rural communities will pay the price for a new generation of
destructive mega-dams, but will be the last to benefit from the
electricity they generate," commented Peter Bosshard, the Policy
Director of International Rivers. "We forced the World Bank to pull out
of destructive dams through pressure on its donor governments in the
1990s, and if necessary, will do it again."

Sena Alouka, the Executive Director of Jeunes Volontaires pour
l'Environnement in Togo, said: "Shifting resources from the World Bank
to institutions that support solar, wind and micro-hydropower will send
a message that the Bank's big-is-beautiful philosophy is no longer
acceptable. It will also provide additional funding for projects that
reduce energy poverty while protecting the climate and local ecosystems."

Eugene Simonov of Rivers without Boundaries said: "It is highly symbolic
that the World Bank fundraiser takes place in Russia, which follows the
Bank's model of building large export-oriented energy projects. The
Russian government just completed the disastrous Bogushansky Dam on the
Angara River and plans to build up to ten dams in the transboundary Amur
basin for exporting electricity to China. Investing in decentralized
green energy sources would benefit the people of the Amur basin much more."

The International Energy Agency found that 70 percent of rural areas in
developing countries are best electrified by mini- and off-grid
solutions based on solar, wind and micro-hydropower. Yet from 2008-13,
the World Bank spent less than 10 percent of its loans for energy
projects on the expansion of access to electricity for rural
communities. The proposed increase in support for mega-dams will worsen
this imbalance. The Inga 3 Dam for example will serve export markets and
the mining industry, not the 99 percent of Congo's rural population who
have no access to electricity.

The NGO call is supported by advocacy efforts in Germany, the
Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, Russia and the United States. The
petition to donor governments can be signed at

Further information:

• International Rivers briefing paper
• Huffington Post blog: A New Approach to the Global Power Crisis
• Power 4 People campaign

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