Articles by Peter Bosshard:
May 22, 2012 by Peter Bosshard
Some projects are so destructive that no reputable actors want to get involved with them. Think of the oil wells in Sudan’s conflict zones, China’s Three Gorges Dam, and the gas pipelines in Burma. If the price is right, however, some will still be tempted to do business on such projects through the back door. The World Bank is currently taking such an approach with a big credit for Ethiopia’s power sector.
The Gibe III Dam, now under construction in Southwest Ethiopia, will devastate ecosystems that support 500,000 indigenous people in the Lower Omo Valley and around Kenya’s Lake Turkana. The UN’s World Heritage Committee called on the Ethiopian government to “immediately halt all construction” on the project, which will impact several sites of universal cultural and ecological value. In August 2011, the Kenyan parliament passed a resolution asking for the suspension of dam construction pending further studies.
May 16, 2012 by Peter Bosshard
Infrastructure lending has once again become the World Bank’s core business. A new report by International Rivers reviews the Bank’s track record in the sector, and calls on the new Bank President to replace the top-down approach to infrastructure with a strategy that prioritizes the needs of the poor.
In November 2011, the World Bank and the Group of 20 prepared new strategies for infrastructure development. They proposed concentrating public finance on large projects with private participation that can transform whole regions. The Bank and the G20 identified the giant Inga hydropower scheme on the Congo River as an example of the proposed approach.
April 16, 2012 by Peter Bosshard
Ikal Angelei, the founder of Friends of Lake Turkana in Kenya, receives the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize in San Francisco today. The award will honor an activist who is defending the interests of 500,000 poor indigenous people against a destructive hydropower dam, and has successfully taken on many of the world’s biggest dam builders and financiers. Ikal Angelei grew up on the shores of Lake Turkana, the world’s biggest desert lake.
This lifeline of Northwestern Kenya is under threat from the giant Gibe III Dam, currently under construction on the lake’s main water source, the Omo River in Ethiopia. When she learned about this threat, Ikal founded Friends of Lake Turkana with a few friends in 2007. Working together with partners around the world, she started an international campaign to stop the mega-dam which threatens her people’s livelihoods.
March 24, 2012 by Peter Bosshard
Jim Yong Kim – a public health expert, president of Dartmouth College and astute rapper – is the US government’s candidate for the presidency of the World Bank. As Dani Rodrik, a development expert at Harvard University, summed it up this morning, “it’s nice to see that Obama can still surprise us.” Will the new candidate, who was not on anybody’s shortlist for the position, be able to reinvent the World Bank?
The current process, in which the US and European governments divide up the World Bank and IMF top posts among themselves, is a farce and needs to be changed. Southern governments have put forward Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Jose Antonio Ocampo, the finance ministers of Nigeria and (formerly) Colombia, for the position.