Bank Information Center
Synchronicity Earth supported the Bank Information Center (BIC) to carry out a detailed case study to demonstrate gaps in current policies and protections of World Bank financed infrastructure projects, such as dams.
This contributed to BIC’s campaign to ensure strengthening of social and environmental safeguards of World Bank funded projects as the World Bank undergoes its two-year safeguards review process.
The World Bank’s safeguards are designed to ensure borrowers mitigate certain social and environmental risks and enable positive development outcomes from World Bank financed projects. In the past, the World Bank has been accused of a number of human rights violations as a result of their funding of large dams. In this instance, they reviewed these safeguards, amongst pressure to lower standards from some borrowing nations. The review process includes a number of public consultation periods.
Although dams are a supposedly green mechanism for providing energy, there is abundant evidence to suggest large-scale dams can have devastating impacts both on local communities and wildlife. Dams alter the way a river functions and flows. Not only can they act as physical barriers to water and wildlife flow but they also change the dynamics of the habitat, altering temperature, turbidity, visibility and light penetrability. As well as the potential damage to wildlife, as many as 80 million people are thought to have been physically displaced by large-scale dam developments and many more have lost their livelihoods. Furthermore, large-scale dam projects not only impact freshwater habitats but also terrestrial and marine habitats – resulting in deforestation or increased illegal wildlife extraction, as well as altering water and sediment outputs to oceans.
Bank Information Center’s headquarters are strategically placed in Washington DC, near to the World Bank. They have an excellent understanding of the World Bank’s practices, procedures and protocols and have good communication with some of the World Bank staff. BIC has built respect and understanding with the World Bank as well as with dam impacted people, through their regional offices and local partners and therefore are well equipped to push for the best standards possible.