[Press Release] CSOs reject diluted World Bank safeguards

CSOs reject diluted World Bank safeguards

Photo by ATM

Photo by ATM

Frustrated and angered by the lack of right-upholding provisions – this was the general disposition of non-government organizations (NGO) and civil society organizations (CSO) to the World Bank (WB) draft safeguard as they walked out from the World Bank consultation and staged a protest outside Astoria Plaza in Ortigas.

The consultation that was attended by more than a hundred CSOs, World Bank Manila representatives and World Bank East Asia representatives was the first of 36 consultations to be held in different parts of the world.

It aims to consolidate CSO reactions on the new draft of safeguards that was launched in Washington, DC last October 8-11.


Jaybee Garganera from the Alyansa Tigil Mina read the rejection statement of CSOs while other participants raised placards bearing calls “People over Profit”, “Planet over profit” and “Communities over Corporations” before the group walked out of the consultation and joined the protest outside.

In the unified statement presented in the consultation, the Philippine CSOs formally and publicly rejected the draft of WB safeguards and demanded for the policies to be strengthened as “to ensure real protections for people and the planet.”

“We demand protection not dilution.” said Garganera, “The new draft of safeguards does not uphold and protect our rights but sell us out to capitalists instead.” he added.

According to the Philippine CSOs, the WB draft safeguard failed to secure right-based development by diluting the safeguards or the provisions setting social and environmental responsibilities and accountabilities to companies aiming to secure financial assistance from World Bank.

In addition, the CSOs are contesting the new provision of the World Bank’s draft safeguards wherein the banking institution will be free from any responsibility to oversee the execution of these safeguards once a transaction has been approved.

“Safeguards are collaterals of people, communities, environment and even governments to ensure that no abuse of whatsoever kind will be inflicted by a company’s entry to an area, society or country.” said Rodne Galicha of Bayay Sibuyanon.

“If World Bank will set a lenient safeguard, this may endanger the welfare of many sectors and may spur corporate abuses and neglect of social responsibilities.” Galicha added.

Provisions that the groups claimed to have been diluted were from the sections of Environment, Climate Change, Crisis, Labor, Land Rights and Involuntary Resettlement, Indigenous Peoples, Gender and Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE), Children and Persons with Disabilities.

“The draft safeguards of World Bank disempower the people and communities by leaving sectors under the mercy of transnational corporations.” said Rayyan Hassan of NGO forum on ADB.

“We fear that the low standard set by World Bank could set a trend to all global banking institutions which will cause a monumental dive to human rights in every part of the world.” Hassan added.

Aside from economic and environmental provisions, the CSOs also lambasted the weak conditions on Gender and Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE).

Jonas Bagas, of The Library Foundation Share (TLF Share) said that “the exclusion of individuals from the development process because of their sexual orientation or gender identity has a cost: it leaves behind communities that are already vulnerable, rendering development incomplete and impaired.”

Bagas reiterated that “ Lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders should also reap the benefits of economic growth and development.”

In the event of passage, the safeguards will automatically apply to upcoming investors and companies funded by World Bank. This will affect millions of workers ranging from the government to private sectors.

According to Edsil Bacalso, coordinator of NAGKAISA, an unclear and weak set of safeguards is a threat to labor forces, which as it is, are already facing difficulties with the current system.

“Instead of creating safeguards that favor corporations, what we actually need are provisions that will empower and strengthen the bodies that make up the labor forces. We don’t see that in draft that is being circulated right now.” said Bacalso.

Another sector that raised their concern with the draft safeguard is the Indigenous Peoples community.

Artiso Mandawa, Municipal councillor of Brooke’s Point Palawan and one of the tribe leaders of Palaw’an who attended the consultation expressed his disappointment with the diluted safeguards.

“The provision that proposes to give a government a right to exclude policy requirements intended to protect indigenous peoples is a huge problem for cultural communities. This will leave us vulnerable and helpless not just only to corporate abuses but state violations as well.” said Mandawa.

Among the demands of the CSOs from different sectors are as follows:

-Broadening of environmental and social impact assessment frameworks and adoption of climate change impact assessments;

-Immediate removal of the proposal that governments can simply ‘opt-out’ of applying the policy requirements intended to protect indigenous peoples;

-Clear obligations from World Bank regarding the rights of workers with disabilities, sexual minorities and high risk and vulnerable populations;

-Non-discriminatory and affirmative inclusiveness of women, girls, and sexual minorities in a manner that emphasizes equality;

– World Bank not weaken, impede or restrict tenure rights to land, housing or natural resources in any manner that violates human rights, including the right to adequate housing, the right to food, the right to non-discrimination and the right to equal protection of the law;

-Borrower be required to systematically and regularly assess the impacts World Bank projects may have on children, including serious consequences for children, such as the impact on their physical and mental health, and the loss of their childhood;

-Any funding, irrespective of borrower capacity, must take into account the climate impacts and their mitigation measures, including requirements to develop responses for the multiple impacts of extreme events, hydro-meteorological disasters caused by climate change;

-and for World Bank to incorporate the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. As such, the policy must guarantee full inclusion, which means non-discrimination and the end of the invisibility of PWD.

Protesting organizations also demanded for a new round of consultations that according to them must include the full and effective participation of vulnerable groups.

“We are demanding a more ambitious and progressive safeguards from World Bank. We demand for World Bank to produce a set of safeguards that will genuinely promote and protect our environment and the people so that we may all attain a sustainable future.” asserted Garganera.
Additional Information:

The World Bank’s environmental and social safeguard policies are a cornerstone of its support to sustainable poverty reduction. The objective of these policies is to prevent and mitigate undue harm to people and their environment in the development process. These policies provide guidelines for bank and borrower staffs in the identification, preparation, and implementation of programs and projects. (Source: http://www.worldbank.org/safeguards)

For more information please contact:

Jaybee Garganera, ATM National Coordinator (0927) 761.76.02 nc@alyansatigilmina.net
Check Zabala, ATM Media and Communications Officer (0927) 623.50.66 media.comms@alyansatigilmina.net

Press Release
October 23, 2014

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