Blog / 30 January 2013

The empty words of the president of the World Bank

The empty words of the president of the World Bank

Because the questions remains: how serious and sincere is the World Bank Group itself? I see how they invest in the development of fossil fuels with coal plants and oil pipelines. The bank abuses the rhetoric of climate change in order to continue investing in numerous large dams around the globe, while it has been demonstrated that they don’t deliver as promised and damage more than we like. And even in this time of austerity the Bank under the guise of  sustainability aims to gain control of all the funds which are gloablly being reserved for climate adaption.


The World Bank is not the only institution I hear spreading a progressive, innovative message, while in deed leave all as it is. The same could be said of the Dutch government: four journalists doing research for Dutch magazine ‘de Groene Amsterdammer’ put it into the following words: "We remain a land of gas and coal that loves to talk about sustainability."

In international platforms such as the World Economic Forum, VIPs muse under the gaze of the world on the best ways to manage 'global public goods'.  People who live in the forests,who depend on fish from rivers and oceans, or on their land to feed their children, are not invited or heard. 'Human rights', have become dirty words. And in the meantime the honored VIPs keep drilling for oil, developing shale gas, creating mega-plantations for palm oil and building huge dams.


To me it is therefore not surprising to see one after the other failing international conference or debate on climate, environment and sustainability. It's as if a  cook organised a meeting with a cow, a hare, a shrimp and a cod, announcing that he will cook them in one of his dishes, but would very much appreciate hearing their thoughts on the kind of sauce they would like to be marinated in. 


From my perspective it’s time all VIPs stop saying empty words. Do not talk about change, but act change. Even - and perhaps especially - when this change is painful for the people who are in control. So World Bank: Help us fight climate change and stop investing in fossil fuels. And Dutch government, do not rely on a ‘green market mechanism’. If you leave the greening of the energy resources to consumers and businesses, you can be sure that the wallet will trump the climate. The Netherlands should lead the way in renewable energy production instead of looking away and lagging behind. ‘Practice what you preach’ counts for all – and only then will you be taken serious.


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