The 1992 Rio Earth Summit was supposed to be a turning point for the World Bank. Environmental concerns would now play a major role in its lending—programs and projects would go beyond economic development to "sustainable development." More than two decades later, efforts to green the bank seem pallid. Bruce Rich argues that the Bank's current institutional problems are extensions of flaws that had been present since its founding. His new book, Foreclosing the Future, tells the ...
The 1992 Rio Earth Summit was supposed to be a turning point for the World Bank. Environmental concerns would now play a major role in its lending—programs and projects would go beyond economic development to "sustainable development." More than two decades later, efforts to green the bank seem pallid.
Bruce Rich argues that the Bank's current institutional problems are extensions of flaws that had been present since its founding. His new book, Foreclosing the Future, tells the story of the Bank from the Rio Earth Summit to today. For readers who want the full history of the Bank's environmental record, Rich's acclaimed 1994 critique, Mortgaging the Earth, is an essential companion.
Called a "detailed and thought-provoking look at an important subject"; by The New York Times, Mortgaging the Earth analyzes the twenty year period leading up the Rio Summit. Rich offers not only an important history but critical insights about economic development that are ever-more relevant today.
The World Bank, the largest single source of financial and economic assistance in the world, was founded in 1946 to alleviate poverty and promote development . Rich, senior attorney at the Environmental Defense Fund, charges that today's Bank is institutionally debased and intellectually corrupt. His well-documented indictment focuses on the Bank's record in regard to the environment, citing Bank-supported projects that ignore end-use efficiency, conservation and local social organizations. Rich examines projects in the largest borrowing countries: transmigration in Indonesia; dams in India; deforestation, dams and roads in Brazil. These projects force the displacement of millions of impoverished people. Rich argues that the story is repeated in Africa, Malaysia and Thailand. He argues that global environmental management fails because there are no global solutions, only local ones. Rich points to such agencies as Inter-American, the African Development Foundation, Appropriate Technology International and Oxfam as organizations that take a more sensible, effective local approach to development than does the World Bank. This expose deserves a wide readership. (Feb.)
The degradation of the environment and the deepening of poverty in the Third World have been intertwined over the past 30 years. Rich argues that the top-down development approach pursued by the World Bank (and most other international lenders) has much to do with these outcomes. A lawyer with the Environmental Defense Fund, Rich has for over a decade worked within a vibrant international network of grass-roots activists to mitigate and change the lending policies of the World Bank--with some success. His book is one of the most insightful and detailed accounts of the World Bank's planning processes and their negative environmental impacts across the Third World. Recommended for academic and larger public libraries.-- Bill Rau, Takoma Park, Md.
Even though the World Bank is nearing its fiftieth anniversary, few are aware of its structure, its sources of capital, or its purpose. As explained in "The Statesman's Year-Book", the bank, known formally as the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, "provid (s) funds and technical assistance to facilitate economic development in its poorer member countries." Although that mission might sound noble, Rich, senior attorney at the Environmental Defense Fund, charges that, fostered by the bank's policies, the human and natural resources of nonindustrialized countries have been plundered in the name of development and a misguided notion of progress. Rich has previously served as a World Bank consultant, but he salvages the leadership of the bank under former secretary of defense Robert McNamara, resuscitating old antagonisms with his charge that the same insensitivity, arrogance, and mismanagement that led to the Vietnam debacle have created a worldwide environmental crisis. In spite of--or because of--Rich's vested interest, this is an important book that vividly and disturbingly documents policies gone awry.
The Los Angeles Times
“Rips apart the bank’s lending policies and has sent the noble institution into a spin”
“Poses timely questions”
“A detailed catalogue of such misdemeanours”
The Village Voice
“More than just a high-minded exposé…[a] fine book.”
The Globe & Mail
“A vivid history”
The New York Times Book Review
“This is a detailed and thought-provoking look at an important subject from the viewpoint of a passionate advocate.”
Bruce Rich is lawyer who has worked for three decades with national environmental organizations. He is an expert on public international finance and the environment. He received the United Nations Global 500 Award for environmental achievement for his research and advocacy concerning multilateral development banks. He is the author of Mortgaging the Earth and To Uphold the World , as well as articles in publications including The Financial Times , The Ecologist , and Environmental Forum , the policy journal of the Environmental Law Institute.
The Dwelling Place of the Angels
Decade of Debacles
Brave New World at Bretton Woods
The Faustian Paradox of Robert McNamara
Greens Lay Siege to the Crystal Palace
The Emperor's New Clothes
The Castle of Contradictions
From Descartes to Chico Mendes: A Brief History of Modernity as Development
Who Shall Rule the World--and How?
What on Earth Is to Be Done?