At the beginning of this century, Jatropha Curcas made its name as the miracle tree. Jatropha was easy to grow in dry areas, the seeds could be used for biofuel and since Jatropha trees - like all trees and plants - absorb CO2, growing the tree would contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. In one stroke the solution to climate change, energy scarcity and underdevelopment would be within reach. Investors lined up to invest in large-scale Jatropha cultivation, especially in Africa. Ten years later, the miracle turned out to be a mirage.
On July 23rd the World Bank board of directors will discuss the Bank’s safeguards review: In the coming months, the World Bank revises its social and environmental safeguards and according to Both ENDS programme officer Pieter Jansen this offers opportunities to encourage the Bank to strengthen them . This would improve the level of protection of people and the natural resources they depend on in World Bank projects. But if the Bank decides to make the safeguards more flexible instead, its investments could have more negative consequences for local populations and their habitat. Civil society organisations have repeatedly expressed their concerns, and since it’s almost the 23rd, Pieter makes a last attempt to make the World Bank aware of its responsibility: on behalf of Both ENDS he sent a letter with recommendations to Frank Heemskerk, the Dutch executive director at the World Bank. Pieter explains.