IMF/WORLD BANK PROTESTS OFFER FORUM FOR FOREST PROTECTION
-- Mobilization provides opportunity to highlight agencies' impact on forests worldwide
-- Come to Washington September 28 to October 4 to express your concerns over impact of agency's programs
As Washington D.C. police double the estimated size of the upcoming
protests against the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank
activists are fine-tuning plans and strategies for pushing for an end to
the agencies' programs that devastate forests worldwide. Through
promoting the export of natural resources, loans conditioned on cutting
budgets of environmental programs, and large-scale development projects,
the IMF and the World Bank are responsible for environmental
catastrophes around the globe.
IMF policies threaten forests by (1) promoting increased export of
natural resources; (2) encouraging foreign investment, particularly in
natural resources sectors; (3) encouraging reductions in government
spending on environmental programs; and (4) increasing poverty.
Meanwhile, the World Bank has never effectively implemented 1991
measures aimed at heightening consideration of forest protection in its
lending schemes. According to the Forest Peoples Programme, "the main
failure was in the lack of staff compliance..." and "...the Bank's
relationship with borrower countries." The Bank is now considering
relaxing these policies, including the ban on direct financing of
logging in primary moist tropical forests. While there has been much
debate (and some action) regarding the World Bank's impact on forests
and ecosystems, problems associated with IMF practices have been
The IMF conditions loans on fundamental reforms to government policies.
The conditions come in the form of Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs)
designed to decrease domestic spending and increase government income.
The policy prescriptions are designed to promote exports (frequently
natural resources, i.e. forests), reduce government spending and the
government's role in the economy, increase taxation and devalue
currency. Governments meet these requirements by reducing spending in
many areas, including environmental protection, health care, education
and other basic services and reducing worker protections such as minimum
wages and benefit packages
The U.S. has the greatest influence over IMF policy because it supplies
the greatest level of funding. As a result, the U.S. also wields veto
power over the IMF's most important decisions.
HOW DOES THE IMF IMPERIL FORESTS?
In order to increase government income, the IMF encourages countries to
develop export industries, rather than industries producing for domestic
consumption. Exports allow countries to reach a larger market and
provide governments with the foreign currency they need to pay back the
Forests are present in most IMF loan recipient nations, and the IMF
encourages the liquidation of these forests in order to increase
exports. Between 1990 and 1995, forest loss for the 41 most heavily
indebted and poor countries globally significantly exceeded the rate of
forest loss for the world. Approximately 75 percent of these countries
had an IMF loan at some point during this time period. Two of these
countries, Nicaragua and Honduras, lost almost 12 percent of their
forests, over seven times greater than the world average.
Increased foreign investment:
The IMF encourages governments to prioritize the attraction of foreign
investors above important social and environmental objectives. This
often results in the reduction of environmental protections and an
increase in concessions for foreign timber companies, accelerating
unsustainable logging practices.
In promoting the reduction of government funding for social programs,
the IMF has contributed to the exacerbation of poverty in many of the
world's poorer countries. Combined with the pattern of transnational
corporations displacing peasant farmers onto more marginal farmland,
these policies have forced many rural communities to turn to primary
forests as the sources of wood for fuel and homebuilding materials.
Please join us in protesting the IMF and World Bank programs responsible
for global deforestation! There will also be workshops and panels
available to learn more about the agencies' programs and their social
and environmental impacts. Come to DC from September 28 to October 4,
2001, and make your voice heard. For more information on planned
American Lands Alliance: Jason Tockman (740) 594-5441,
50 Years Is Enough Network: Soren Ambrose, mailto: email@example.com,
Mobilization for Global Justice: http://www.globalizethis.org
726 7th Street SE
Washington, D.C. 20003