A small but select band gathered at Casselden Place at 8am this morning to wish the World Bank an Unhappy Birthday. As well as handing out leaflets – about 400 – to office workers arriving at the building, the partygoers sang the traditional ‘Happy Birthday’, though with slightly unfamiliar words, and there was also a cake – somehow it seemed appropriate that it was a superannuated mud cake from Coles…
From the FoE media release:
[Note – the links in the following extract are out of date, see above]
More World, Less Bank
Help the World Bank celebrate its 60th Birthday with best wishes for retirement.
Friends of the Earth’s Reclaim Globalisation Collective cordially invites you to an Unhappy Birthday Party for the World Bank this Thursday 29th July at Casselden Place outside the city office of Australia’s representative to the World Bank Executive Board, Peter Costello. We will meet at 8am for an 8:30am media action.
Party-goers may dress as Unhappy Clowns with face paint (provided). Also provided will be balloons, streamers, whistles, birthday cake, banner and info sheets to hand out to passers by.
We will sing Happy Birthday to the World Bank and provide financial advice to assist the Bank with its retirement plan.
We call for the Bank’s retirement following years of global protest against World Bank policies that cause environmental degradation and trap countries with small economies into loans with spiralling debt repayments.
Since the 1980’s the World Bank and fellow Bretton Woods institution the International Monetary Fund have imposed Structural Adjustment policies as conditions for loans to countries in the majority world. These policies include cuts in government spending on health care and education, increases in the cost of food, health care and other basic necessities, mandates to open markets to foreign trade and investment, and privatisation of state-run enterprises. More recently, so-called Poverty Reduction Strategies (PRS’s) have been introduced. These programs often include austerity measuressuch as high interest rates and reduced access to credit, which result in slower economic growth as well as increased poverty and unemployment. For more information, see http://www.foe.org.au/nc/nc_trade_IMFWB2.htm.
On Thursday 29th July, the Bank’s Executive Directors will meet for a crucial decision on whether or not to accept the recommendations of the Extractive Industries Review (EIR). The EIR is an independent inquiry that was commissioned by the World Bank and published in December 2003.
It recommends that pipelines and mines should not be financed by the Bank in countries where governments are corrupt, where there is armed conflict, or where human rights are not respected. The Review also recommends the protection of areas of high biodiversity and a strong commitment to investments in renewable energy. The EIR failed to find a single example of a Bank-funded oil, coal, or gas project that furthered the Bank’s mandate of poverty alleviation.
Current responses from World Bank directors indicate that the Bank is unlikely to accept all of the recommendations. By refusing to accept the EIR recommendations as an entire package, Bank directors will give the go-ahead for further funding for extractive projects that create ecological damage and discount the involvement of Indigenous peoples.