Edited by Peter Dauvergne
Chapter 27: Evaluating World Bank Environmental Performance
Tamar Gutner1 International organizations (IOs) face a quandary. They are expected to play a more significant role in global governance by some, while others expect the opposite. Amidst the tug-of-war over expectations, they are also struggling to respond to relentless criticism for poor to mixed performance. Questions of how much authority can effectively be delegated to IOs while they are being asked to juggle more complex issues have prompted heated policy debates about the role of IOs today and their place in the architecture of global governance. This challenge is most visible in the case of multilateral development banks (MDBs), where a variety of institutional reforms have failed to placate critics. An important case is the attempt by MDBs over the past two decades to address environmental issues in their work. Share holder countries have asked MDBs to provide leadership in global and regional environmental governance, while critics contend that these institutions do a poor job following their own environmental policies and contribute to environmental degradation in a number of recipient countries. The case of MDB environmental performance is also important for three additional reasons. First, criticism of the World Bank’s environmental behavior in the early 1980s prompted the first large campaign by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) for MDB reforms, which has inspired more recent campaigns against the international financial institutions (IFIs).2 Second, and related, MDB attempts to improve their environmental performance since the late 1980s are more established than policies in other newer issue areas, such as gender and...
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