World Bank Group Evolution Roadmap would fail to deliver positive development outcomes and accountable development finance.

August 2, 2023, Washington, D.C.–In response to pressure from donor countries to undergo significant operational changes to better address current global development crises, including the climate crisis, the World Bank Group (WBG) has published an “Evolution Roadmap” that proposes a dramatic increase in the quantity of money the WBG entities will push out the door, with particular focus on private sector investment. 

EarthRights International’s Deputy General Counsel Michelle Harrison issued the following statement:

“The Evolution Roadmap does not propose an evolution at all. Without engaging in any retrospective analysis of whether its development model has been effective to date, the WBG simply proposes to do more of what it is already doing. The changes the Evolution Roadmap does outline – getting more money out the door faster and increasingly outsourcing its development activities to the private sector – will have disastrous consequences for the communities that host these investments if the WBG does not make commensurate improvements to its environmental and social safeguards and reform its broader accountability framework. 

“Existing WBG policies and practices have too often failed to deliver positive development outcomes – too often leaving the very people WBG investments are meant to benefit worse off than before. And WBG entities — the International Finance Corporation, the WBG private lending arm, in particular – have consistently refused to provide any measure of remedy where such harm results. 

“The experience of the fishing and farming communities whose livelihoods and environment were destroyed by the IFC-funded Tata Mundra coal-fired power plant in Gujarat, India, remains a stain on the IFC – and the broader WBG’s — credibility and legitimacy as development institutions. Despite more than a decade of fighting for any measure of accountability from the International Finance Corporation (IFC), including taking their case all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court in the Jam v. IFC case and establishing that IFC is not entirely immune from suit, IFC has steadfastly refused to do right by them. Development projects that leave host communities worse off are not merely legally and morally problematic; they are fundamentally inconsistent with the institution’s mission to combat poverty and promote shared prosperity. 

“The WBG has a crisis of accountability, trust, and relevance today. That is one of the reasons for the Evolution Roadmap process and why IFC is going through a separate but undeniably related process to address its accountability problems, particularly its repeated failure to remedy harm caused by its investments. By failing to address accountability, transparency, and remedy in the Evolution Roadmap, the WBG is squandering a crucial opportunity to restore its credibility and become a more effective and transformative institution capable of securing positive global change.”

Kate Fried, EarthRights International
(202) 257.0057