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VIEW: World Bank uses ‘green economy’ to promote more dams, says International Rivers

Peter Bosshard, policy director at International Rivers, writes, “The draft document for the Rio+20 summit, which governments are currently discussing in New York, is devoid of substance and ambition. Entitled The Future We Want, it contains no honest analysis, few specific recommendations, and no binding commitments. Instead, it tries to hide its lack of ambition with vague concepts such as a new ‘Green Economy’.”

“In the water sector – the area I know best – there are indeed measures that could improve the planet’s economic and ecological health at the same time. We could start by dramatically improving the water efficiency of our existing infrastructure and agriculture. We could safeguard vital ecosystems and the services that they provide by protecting free-flowing rivers and restoring environmental flows. We could phase out public funding for unsustainable agricultural practices, polluting industries and destructive dams. And we could redirect development aid towards the decentralised, small-scale technologies that strengthen the food, water and energy security of the poorest without destroying the environment.”

“Unfortunately, the language of the Rio+20 draft document is so vague that it can easily be abused by the money lenders, consultants and contractors that benefit from the current course of action. Under the motto of the ‘Green Economy’, the World Bank proposes to build more large multipurpose dams that would clog the arteries of the planet while bypassing the poor. As the World Commission on Dams found ten years ago, these complex projects have the worst track record among all dams in terms of economic viability, poverty reduction and environmental protection – the main pillars of sustainable development.”

The Council of Canadians has pointed out that the Rio+20 ‘green economy templates’ point to more dams and water privatization, http://canadians.org/blog/?p=10999. For more commentary on Rio+20, please see http://canadians.org/rio20.

This weekend I will be joining Blue Planet Project organizer Anil Naidoo in Porto Alegre, Brazil for a ‘thematic social forum’ meeting on an alternative summit to counter the official Rio+20 summit. More on that at http://canadians.org/blog/?p=12121.