By working at the World Bank I can see how failing humanity in the face of the climate crisis | Jake hess
The World Bank is facing the biggest test in its history. Next week, Bank executives will attend the Cop26 Global Climate Summit in Glasgow, where key decisions on the fate of humanity will be made. If the Bank is to meet its official goals of poverty eradication and shared prosperity, now is the time to act. Because nothing will increase poverty and undermine prosperity more than uncontrollable global warming.
However, he is likely to fail this test. At a time when the world must move away from dirty energy as quickly as possible, the Bank has spent over $ 12 billion on the direct financing of fossil energy projects since the historic Paris climate agreement. And its overall credibility is lower than ever after a data manipulation scandal involving senior executives.
I watched this drama unfold from the inside because I work at the World Bank. Unfortunately, I am unconvinced that my employer will soon become a climate leader. In my opinion, the internal processes of the organization have been vandalized by political pressure from the highest levels of management. a external investigation alleged that the Bank had put “undue pressure” on its own researchers to rig a process that ranks countries according to how easy it is to start a business there.
This is indicative of broader institutional practices that weaken the Bank’s ability to lead global development priorities, including climate. The World Bank likes to brag about how many “climate financeÂ»He provides, but he is less eager to discuss his Support for polluting energy sources that cause global warming. This opacity perhaps hides a darker truth: that the institution continues to promote the dirty energy sources that lead to global warming.
The Bank has make some progress on the climate, in particular by ending the direct financing of coal-fired power plants. But there’s a catch: it still supports the smut through backdoor channels. The World Bank’s private sector lending arm still indirectly supports coal-fired power plants through its client commercial banks, for example in Indonesia. Such projects are incompatible with a serious commitment to climate action, and it is dishonest of the Bank to support them in a sly way.
The World Bank is ultimately funded by taxpayer dollars from its member states, and it has a specific mandate to end poverty and build shared prosperity. If it wants to maintain its international credibility, it cannot be seen as a brake on climate action. The Bank should eliminate all direct and indirect support for fossil fuels and instead, fund and help a just transition to clean energy around the world. Putting developing countries in the driver’s seat of soon-to-be-obsolete technology does not put them on the path to green development.
But it’s hard to imagine the World Bank meeting global climate challenges without first undergoing major institutional changes itself. As the old saying goes, a fish rots through the head. The World Bank is currently headed by David Malpass, an official who worked for Donald Trump anti-climate presidential campaign in 2016 and, in 2010, allegedly denied that man-made carbon emissions cause global warming.
In 2019, Trump chose Malpass to head the World Bank, where he was mostly silent on the climate before delivering a plan that watch groups denounced as a failure because of its refusal to phase out support for fossil fuels. His track record suggests that Malpass has neither the vision nor the credibility to make the World Bank a climate leader.
It’s time to end the tradition of Americans run the World Bank; the world cannot afford development institutions to be crippled by the corporate dominated American political system. The next World Bank leader – ideally not a man – should come from a developing country on the front lines of the climate crisis, and be genuinely committed to climate solutions.
My colleagues are honest, intelligent and forward-looking people. They work at the World Bank because they believe in the institution’s stated goals of ending poverty and building shared prosperity. They want him to be a leader on the climate.
Too often, however, our ability to meet these ambitions is hampered by what the World Bank Staff Association has described as a “much larger systemic problem of top management yielding to political pressure.” a audit by the law firm WilmerHale found that during the recent data manipulation scandal, senior officials pressured and sometimes intimidated staff into rigging the numbers in order to artificially raise China’s score on investment conditions.
The workers tried to speak out. But, according to the staff association, our internal justice system is “unable to hold senior management to account” and has failed to protect employees who are intimidated when they have complained.
A World Bank that truly listens to its staff would be a more effective development leader. This sordid episode seriously damaged our credibility. I have never worked in the unit where the scandal happened, and I am fortunate to be a full time employee with a living wage and good benefits. But conditions can be particularly heartbreaking for women and the abused masses of the Bank short-term consultants.
I spent six happy years at the Bank. In the end, I decided to speak publicly because the recent scandals convinced me that there was no internal path to reform. Institutional failures destroy our ability to act on the climate, which is the most urgent global development priority. Instead of responding to the selfish whims of powerful interests, the World Bank must mobilize its unparalleled resources and lead this crucial issue. Civil society activists, as well as World Bank staff, have been raising these questions for years. It is time for our bosses to listen, because poverty cannot be eradicated on a planet whose ecosystems are degrading.