IFIs: Financing Global Destruction

IFIs: Financing Global Destruction

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The IMF itself confesses that it does not take into account environmental problems since it is limited by its mandate and by the poor preparation of its staff in such matters. The IMF avoids all responsibility for the environmental impacts generated by its stabilization and structural adjustment programs.

The IMF's role in destroying tropical forests (1)

Let's not get confused. When the International Monetary Fund (IMF) speaks of a "favorable environment", it refers to business, a favorable environment for direct foreign investment, through stock market operations, or indirectly, through company operations. transnationals. The sporadic references to the environment in their loans, donations, documents and strategies, are functional to their classic recipes based on adjustment and stabilization programs, which, when well applied, should lead us to sustained development, clearly understood, in terms of continuous growth. of the GDP. The IMF continues to believe, or insists on making us believe that there is a magic or "virtuous" circle in which "sustained" economic growth reduces poverty and increases the resources available to improve the environment. Circle that also feeds itself (1). Something like the invisible hand of Adam Smith.

The IMF itself confesses that it does not take environmental problems into account since it is limited by its mandate and by the poor preparation of its staff in such matters [MA1]. This institution argues that it specializes "only in issues related to macroeconomic, monetary, trade and fiscal policies at the national and international level [MA2]", and that other organizations are such as the World Bank, the United Nations or regional development banks , those that "are better equipped" to deal with environmental problems [MA3] " (2). In this way, the IMF avoids all responsibility for the environmental impacts generated by its stabilization and structural adjustment programs.

It has been 3 decades since the first structural adjustment experiments implemented by the bloody dictatorships of Uruguay, Chile and Argentina back in the mid-1970s. From there, and without distinctions of a historical, geographical, cultural or social nature, the IMF has been imposing a unique recipe for every country that tries to access its funds, which is supposedly aimed at achieving economic growth. The IMF seizes the opportunity to impose structural adjustment and stabilization programs as conditionalities for obtaining its loans. They include the implementation of measures aimed at overcoming the budget deficit by cutting public spending, as well as the implementation of privatization processes, deregulation of the economy including commercial and financial liberalization, and economic growth based on the increase in income. exports. These adjustments entail a structural reform of the State, which allows the elimination of barriers that impede access and the creation of a favorable environment for foreign investment. Such "barriers" include all kinds of social regulation (including labor and environmental protection measures). In short, when a country with difficulties in its balance of payments and on the verge of bankruptcy is forced to accept financial "assistance" from the IMF, in reality it begins to plunge into a process of losing control of its resources (understood in BROAD sense) and sovereignty.

Protests and mobilizations by affected communities, civil society organizations, and case studies of environmental organizations have shown time and again that in most of the IMF's client countries, not only have the development goals not been achieved, but the The overall result of these environmental policies has been devastating (3). And forested ecosystems do not escape the rule. In 2002, a study by the American Lands Alliance found that IMF credits and policies led to a dramatic increase in deforestation in biologically rich countries in Latin America, Asia, and Africa. The study notes that the IMF's strategy of promoting growth based on exports and foreign investment, while pressuring countries to cut spending on environmental programs, has accelerated deforestation. The IMF appears to have promoted the clearing of threatened forests in Brazil, Cameroon, Chile, Ecuador, Ghana, Honduras, Indonesia, Côte d'Ivoire, Madagascar, Nicaragua, Papua New Guinea, Central African Republic, Russia and Tanzania.

The response to this report from the IMF was that it appeared to be based on "old or incorrect" information. The Fund argues that it has incorporated conditions that require reform of forest policies - aimed at reducing illegal logging and strengthening the protection of forests - and that it has even suspended its loans to several countries, in an attempt to stop illegal logging and logging. deforestation (4). But the truth is that until now the Fund refuses to recognize the environmental impact of its structural adjustment programs.

The study points out, for example, that in Brazil, whose rainforests account for a third of all the rainforests left on the planet, the government cut spending on environmental programs by almost two-thirds, as a condition of an agreement for an emergency package of 41.5 billion dollars signed with the IMF in 1998. This implied a budget reduction and 10 of the 16 environmental programs in Brazil were discontinued, several of them aimed at enforcing the rules of logging and forest protection.

The IMF managed to get Cameroon, one of Africa's most biologically diverse countries, to devalue its currency and lower taxes on exports of forest products. "This made logging more profitable and increased the number of commercially viable species, which increased the volume harvested per hectare." As a result, the number of forestry companies operating in Cameroon increased from 177 to 479 between 1990 and 1998, up from just 106 in 1980, with the result that more than 75 percent of the country's forests have been or will be logged. soon.

In Papua New Guinea, which is home to 1,500 species of trees, 200 species of mammals and 750 species of birds, half of them endemic, the cut in public spending resulted in the dismantling of the Department of Environment and Conservation. To incentivize the timber industry, the IMF managed to reduce taxes on forestry exports from 33 percent to between 0 and 5 percent in 1998. The result was immediate: several of Malaysia's giant forestry companies established themselves immediately in Papua New Guinea, seriously affecting the country's forests.

The IMF, which responds primarily to the US Treasury Department, has not made any substantive changes to improve the situation. It has barely recognized that its policies have any impact on poverty, which has meant a change in the makeup of structural adjustment programs. Nothing about policies that favor the environment. On June 11, the Finance Ministers of the Group of 8 (France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada and Russia) released a statement on "Development and Debt" that includes a proposal to cancel multilateral debt that would be presented to the Annual Meetings of the IMF, World Bank, and African Development Bank in September 2005. The proposed cancellation of multilateral debt is still linked to compliance with the conditions that exacerbate poverty, overexploitation and looting of the natural resources and perpetuate domination over the South. Debt cancellation does not commute any restitution and / or reparation for slavery and colonization, plundering of wealth and natural resources, labor exploitation, or human, social and ecological destruction in the South caused by economic activities. , military operations and wars that protect the interests of the international kleptocracy (5).

The silence of the IMF technocrats, produced by universities like Harvard and their peers, is no mere fluke. They have been trained according to a single objective: to remove the barriers that make it difficult for large companies to access and control the planet's natural resources. Or perhaps for the perpetuation of the United States trade deficit aimed at financing the businesses of the global kleptocracy. Once again, the end justifies the means: letters of intent are signed, technical capacity-building workshops are organized, extortion is made with threats to close access to international capital markets, and whoever has the courage to oppose it is repressed. neoliberal development model. The actors are powerful and well-known: the governments of the rich countries of the North, the multinationals, the IMF, the WTO, the multilateral banks and the corrupt elites and oligarchies of the South. The result cannot be called development in any way, not if it is at the cost of the destruction of healthy ecosystems, the impoverishment and marginalization of the communities that inhabit them or that depend on them for their survival, and the perpetuation at all costs of the current global production system.

The World Bank, Forests, and Forest Peoples: Policies, Impacts, and Implications (2)

New policies, old problems. Since the 1970s the World Bank has been struggling to define a way of approaching forests that reconciles its stated commitment to alleviating poverty with its promotion of "development" through vertical models of growth and commercialization. Free market development models, based on the right to private property, do not agree with the conventional ways of approaching forestry. Since the early eighteenth century, the dominant European model of "scientific forestry" has opposed the free play of market forces, reserving forests for strategic interests defined by the state. This implies state control of forest reserves, as "public goods", from which both local communities and (at least in theory) destructive industries are excluded. Forestry ministries, in favor of state control and public ownership, and agriculture ministries, in favor of private property and free markets, have long distrusted each other.


The first time this model of "scientific forestry" was imposed on a developing country was in the 1840s, with the British in Burma. Since then, economic policy in tropical forests has been dominated by relationships, too close to be healthy, between state agencies, which control the forests, and large-scale loggers willing to bribe them to access the wood. Thus, "scientific forestry" has not only fostered corruption and collusion; It has also led to institutionalized bribery, hence a substantial part of the timber profits go to the bank accounts of politicians and their wealth networks and, in today's so-called democracies, political parties. The penetration of corruption and social exclusion in the forestry sector has been so serious that the objectives of "scientific forestry", of reserving forests to produce wood for strategic purposes and guaranteeing environmental services, have suffered a total defeat. Forests have been exploited for the profit of commercial elites and this has had severe social and environmental consequences.

This form of forestry is not only plagued by economic "inefficiencies" (which World Bank economists find in such bad taste) but has imposed a heavy burden on local communities and Indigenous Peoples, who have been deprived of their rights to farm. establish the State forest reserves, to the point that the contradiction between forestry and the poor is so stark that even the World Bank had to take notice. Since the 1980s, the preferred solution of the World Bank has therefore been to promote, on the one hand, market-based approaches to the concession system (through measures such as competitive bidding, market transparency or the repeal of logging bans) and on the other, "social forestry", generally outside forest reserves. Based on the Chinese model of mass plantations run by the state-led peasantry, "social forestry" was intended to provide rural people with at least some forest products. However, in more capitalist countries it was soon discovered that these plantations could be designed to benefit pulp mills and paper industries more than local foresters, whose labor was co-opted and thus dealt with seedlings and seedlings but practically not. they had access to the trees once they matured.

It was only in the mid-1980s that environmental and social justice movements challenged the World Bank's approach to forests. As soon as it became clear that the World Bank was financing the massive destruction of tropical forests and Indigenous Peoples (through colonization schemes, plantations, dams, mines, road construction, and agribusiness), it promised reforms. It established a new environmental department, adopted what came to be called "safeguard policies" (mandatory procedures aimed at protecting the most vulnerable environments and social groups from the worst impacts) and announced that its objective was to promote "sustainable development". a contradictory concept made famous by the Brundtland Commission.

However, NGOs did not really begin to focus on World Bank forestry policy until 1986 when the Tropical Forests Action Plan (TFAP), a proposal from the World Bank, FAO, UNDP and World Resources, was revealed. Institute to launch US $ 7 billion in monetary aid to tropical forestry. This was to be more of the same: more commercial logging, more plantations on the Aracruz model in Brazil, and more vertical social forestry of the kind that was dispossessing peasants and covering the so-called 'wastelands' of India with a sea of ​​Eucalyptus. . One response of the NGOs was to found the World Rainforest Movement, which emerged in response to TFAP during an international conference held in 1986 in Malaysia.

The outrage was so great and the evidence revealed by the NGOs so conclusive that, in 1990, the G-7 summit called for reform of the TFAP, which soon disintegrated. For a short period the critical voice of NGOs was so strong that, when it became clear that there was hardly a single example of sustainable management of tropical forests in the world, the Bank was forced to adopt a forest policy based on an approach of precaution regarding the exploitation of natural resources; this occurred in 1991. In the absence of any proof of the sustainability of logging in tropical forests, the new "forest policy" prohibited the World Bank from financing projects that damaged primary tropical moist forests.

The Law of the Market: divide and reign. Unfortunately, NGOs were not firm in their rejection of market models for forest reform. It is true that some, such as the WRM, gave priority to alternative approaches to forests based on the restitution of the rights of Indigenous Peoples, agrarian reform to do justice to the peasants and the poor and landless of the countryside, the promotion of local livelihoods, justice between the sexes and self-government. However, many others, including large conservation organizations such as WWF, were attracted by the possibility of harnessing market forces to incentivize the private sector to manage forests "sustainably", which in turn, they hoped, would bring reforms to the forestry sector. The immediate result was the Forest Stewardship Council, established 1993; Although its principles and criteria include the strong protection of the rights of local communities, Indigenous Peoples and workers, it led to the rehabilitation of the suspicious concept of Sustainable Forest Management. In 1998, WWF and the World Bank announced a new joint "Forestry Alliance" dedicated to promoting the certification of 200 million hectares of forests by 2005 in countries that the World Bank had set as its goal. The World Bank had returned to the forestry game.

The World Bank still had the problem that its 1991 forestry strategy was not really compatible with a market-based approach to forests. However, now that the NGOs were divided, the Bank embarked on a complex maneuver designed to legitimize its return to promoting tropical forest logging and market-based reforms. It carried out a lengthy process of reviewing the implementation and strategic development of its Forest Policy, initiated extensive regional consultations, commissioned a series of documents to examine important issues such as poverty reduction, Indigenous Peoples and community management of forests. forests to come to the contested but unsurprising conclusion that it was time to go back to logging as in the 1970s and 1980s: promoting market-based forest industry reforms while doing 'community forestry "to show that he was still concerned about poverty. The ban on financing logging in primary humid tropical forests was lifted and the precautionary approach was dropped.

The new Strategy and its associated policy, adopted in 2002, place even more emphasis on the market than before. New markets for environmental services will be promoted, along with markets for "green" wood, which this policy aims to achieve through voluntary certification. Carbon trading is also being promoted through the Bank's new Biocarbon Fund.

As detailed in the April edition of the WRM newsletter (No. 93), recent World Bank investments unleashed by the new policy are causing serious problems: the expansion of socially and environmentally damaging investments in plantations, agribusiness, and false sinks of carbon and vertical community forestry schemes that trample on the rights of Indigenous Peoples. Meanwhile, in Bank-certified sustainable forestry operations, examples of best practice are nowhere to be seen.

Markets without rights. No one should be surprised that the World Bank prefers a market approach when dealing with forests, but what is really incoherent in the World Bank approach is the treatment of the property rights of the poor. Of course, NGOs tend to argue for the recognition of the territorial rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities on the basis of human rights and natural justice, but capitalist economists like De Soto have also stressed that development cannot work for the poor if there is no strong framework for the protection of property rights.

As Adam Smith, the eighteenth century free market philosopher, pointed out, for "free markets" to function the state must, to the greatest extent possible, "shield every citizen from injustice and oppression by another member. of the same ... "and for that it has to" establish an exact justice among its peoples. " Smith concludes that the rule of law is necessary to protect private property and that this must be done fairly so as not to "exacerbate the indignation of the poor," resulting in the danger that "civil government, to the extent that it is instituted for the sake of property security, actually it is instituted for the rich to defend themselves against the poor "(Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations).

Yet the World Bank's new market-based "Policy on Forests" falls into this very trap. The World Bank notes that around 1.2 billion poor people around the world depend on forests for water, firewood for fuel, and other essentials for their livelihoods. Of these people, about 350 million depend entirely on forests; of these, only 60 million have been classified as "Indigenous Peoples" by the Bank. Although the new forest policy requires Bank-financed logging projects to ensure "recognition and respect of legally documented or customary property and land use rights," such protections do not extend to peoples suffering the hardships. impacts of other Bank-financed projects that affect forests, such as dams, mines, roads, colonization plans, agribusiness, and plantations. Rather than directly addressing these issues, the World Bank said it would resolve these broader land tenure issues in its Revised Policy on Indigenous Peoples, despite the fact that such a policy targets about 5% of the 1.2 billion people. people who, according to the World Bank, depend on forests. Indeed, the World Bank is willing to impose its market policy for the "development" of forests and plantations without addressing the issue of the tenure rights of some 1.1 billion people who depend on these forests for their well-being.

Furthermore, even the Indigenous Peoples policy, finally approved by the World Bank in May 2005, offers highly uncertain protections. Although the policy is a slight improvement over the discussion drafts published over the past four years, the new policy does not call for full recognition of land rights. The only thing it requires of the governments receiving the loan is that they establish an "action plan" to initiate either the full legal recognition of the existing systems of customary land tenure, or a process of converting customary rights into property rights. , or measures for the legal recognition of long-standing rights of use.

Indigenous Peoples were not happy with the new policy. A statement signed by many of the leading Indigenous Peoples organizations that participated in the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in May 2005 points to the new World Bank policy that:

"This recently revised policy has made important progress in many areas, such as requiring that the commercial development of cultural resources and knowledge of affected Indigenous Peoples be subject to their prior consent. However, we remain extremely concerned that these Multilateral Banks Development do not recognize the customary rights of Indigenous Peoples to their lands, territories and natural resources, nor their right to free prior informed consent; we are also concerned about the degradation of international norms to national laws that they have carried out. "

In particular, Indigenous Peoples have been concerned about what happened with their demand for recognition of the right to free, prior and informed consent of the affected communities in relation to the projects proposed for their customary lands; it was converted into a demand for "free, prior and informed consultation" resulting in "broad support from the community." According to the new Bank policy, such consultation and the evaluation of the "broad support from the community" will be carried out by the government beneficiary of the loan, they do not imply the right of the community to veto the project and will only be verified by the Bank at through the analysis of documents provided by the government.

All of this leaves too much room for projects to be imposed without adequate respect for the rights of Indigenous Peoples to their lands and self-determination. As Canadian indigenous rights activist Arthur Manuel noted:

"The consultation sounds good, but it is useless. It is a mechanism to allow the definitive theft of our indigenous properties at no cost. Prior and informed consent means recognizing our land, our culture and our way of life."

"Open for business": how the International Finance Corporation subsidizes the pulp and paper industry (3)

Since its founding in 1956, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) has provided more than $ 44 billion of its own funds and mobilized another $ 23 billion in loans to 3,143 companies in 140 countries. According to its mission statement, the IFC exists to promote "sustainable private sector investment in developing countries as a way to reduce poverty and improve people's living conditions."

But when addressing industry, IFC officials sometimes hint at the true purpose of the institution. "We are open for business," Tatiana Bogatyreva, IFC's chief investment officer, announced during a conference on the packaging industry in Moscow earlier this month. The conference was organized by the Adam Smith Institute, a far-right pressure group in favor of privatization, and included sessions with names like "Packaging as a Marketing Tool" and a "Champagne Roundtable" with industry executives. of the packaging. Bogatyreva stated at the conference that the IFC is ready to finance more projects in the packaging sector.

Unlike the rest of the World Bank Group, the IFC makes loans directly to companies, not governments. The benefits for companies are clear. In addition to cheap long-term financing, IFC advises on emerging markets, industry sectors, and financial structuring. And the IFC can help mobilize funds from commercial banks to finance projects, as well as provide financial support to companies through the purchase of shares.

For several decades the IFC has been a major sponsor of pulp and paper projects around the world. A few months ago the IFC approved loans for pulp and paper projects in Pakistan, China, Brazil, Jordan and Kyrgyzstan. The IFC plays an important role in financing the expansion of the industrial forestry sector in China.

In September 2001, the IFC granted loans totaling US $ 25 million to two subsidiaries of the Sino-Forest corporation for the construction of timber-related factories and the purchase of plantations in China. The plantations of the Canadian company Sino-Forest cover some 240,000 hectares in the south of the country. The company is currently expanding the area of ​​its plantations by about 200,000 hectares in Guangdong province.

In December 2004 the IFC announced a financial package for the Jiangxi Chenming Paper Company, aimed at building a 350,000 tonnes / year paper mill and an associated pulp mill. Jiangxi Chenming is a joint venture of Sappi (South Africa), Shinmoorim (South Korea), Chenming Group (China) and Jiangxi Paper Industry Company Limited (China). IFC will provide US $ 72.9 million in equity and loans and will mobilize another US $ 205 million to finance the project.

In June 2005, Stora Enso signed an agreement with IFC for a US $ 75 million loan to finance the company's activities in China. The money will go to Stora Enso's eucalyptus plantations in southern China's Guangxi province and to expand its Suzhou factory.

Companies that receive loans from the IFC often declare that the loan is a kind of independent approval of the activities of the firm. After his company received a loan from the IFC, Allen Chan, president and CEO of Sino-Forest, said that "IFC's contribution supports Sino-Forest as one of the leaders of sustainable forest management in China." .

When the IFC agreed to make a loan to Stora Enso, Stora Enso Asia Pacific Director Markku Pentikäinen said: "We are pleased to see that investors like the IFC appreciate our approach to sustainability in both forestry operations and paper production. Because of its emphasis on socially responsible investment, the IFC is a good example for other investors in the region. "

Although the IFC has a set of policies that should mean that projects are measured according to environmental and social standards, the reality is that the IFC prefers to do business over standards.

In November 2004, the IFC approved a US $ 50 million loan to the Brazilian pulp giant Aracruz, to finance the expansion of this company's pulp and plantation operations. The IFC granted the loan despite ongoing territorial disputes against the company.

En abril de 2005, representantes de 64 ONG escribieron al entonces presidente del Banco Mundial, James Wolfensohn, para exigir que la CFI cancelara su préstamo a Aracruz. En su respuesta, Atul Mehta, director del Departamento para América Latina y el Caribe de la CFI, desestimó las continuadas reclamaciones territoriales a la empresa y declaró que "durante la evaluación de la CFI se hizo una revisión completa de las cuestiones de litigios territoriales".

Una semana después de que Mehta enviara su carta, unos 500 indígenas Tupinikim y Guaraní cortaron miles de eucaliptos para demarcar 11.008 hectáreas de su tierra, tierra que Aracruz había cubierto de plantaciones de eucaliptos. "Con este acto", escribieron los Tupinikim y Guaraní al ministro de Justicia de Brasil, "queremos expresar a Ud. y a la entera nación brasileña que la tierra pertenece a las naciones Tupinikim y Guaraní y debe ser restituida para que podamos construir nuestro propio futuro y garantizar nuestra libertad y autonomía y el futuro de nuestros hijos y nietos".

Con su apoyo a Aracruz y al sector de la pulpa y el papel en general, la CFI deja en claro de qué se trata su negocio: otorgar dinero público para el lucro privado.

El papel destructivo de las agencias de crédito a la exportación (4)

La globalización, un proceso liderado por corporaciones a lo largo del mundo, ha tenido inmensos impactos sociales y ambientales negativos, particularmente en el Tercer Mundo. Aunque las enormes fuerzas comerciales detrás de la globalización han intentado hacer que la gente piense que se trata de algún tipo de fuerza incontrolable de la naturaleza, y que el famoso libre mercado gobierna el mundo por derecho propio, cada vez hay una mayor conciencia de que gran parte de esa devastación es financiada y apoyada por el dinero de los contribuyentes, a través de las agencias nacionales de crédito a la exportación, comúnmente conocidas por sus siglas en inglés como ECAs (Export Credit Agencies).

Las ECAs son agencias públicas del norte y constituyen la mayor fuente de financiamiento gubernamental – es decir, de los contribuyentes- para proyectos en el sur y en Oriente. A través del otorgamiento de préstamos, garantías, créditos y seguros, las ECAs permiten que compañías privadas de sus países de origen hagan negocios en el exterior.

Durante la década de 1990, el financiamiento de las ECAs promediaba entre US$ 80 y US$ 100 mil millones o más por año, aproximadamente el doble del total oficial de la asistencia al desarrollo. En todo el mundo, las ECAs sostienen actualmente actividades de comercio e inversiones por un monto estimado en US$ 432 mil millones, casi el 10 por ciento de las exportaciones mundiales. El sistema se basa en un acuerdo de los países miembros de la Organización para la Cooperación y el Desarrollo Económico (OCDE) que tienen todos al menos una ECA, que es en general, una división oficial o cuasi-oficial del gobierno.

Actualmente, las ECAs están colectivamente entre las mayores fuentes de financiamiento público para la participación corporativa extranjera en proyectos industriales en los países del sur. Se estima que en los últimos años han brindado apoyo financiero de entre US$50 y US$70 mil millones por año en lo que se da en llamar "transacciones a mediano y largo plazo", una gran parte de las cuales son grandes proyectos industriales y de infraestructura en esos países.

Cuando un negocio se frustra, la garantía de la ECA cubre las pérdidas de la compañía privada, pero luego añade esa suma a la deuda bilateral entre el país de origen y el país receptor. Como resultado, las ECAs son actualmente responsables de hasta un 25 por ciento del total de la deuda pendiente del sur.

El tipo de proyectos que a menudo apoyan las ECAs son proyectos que incluso el Grupo del Banco Mundial y otros bancos multilaterales encuentran potencialmente perjudiciales de apoyar. Por este motivo, las ECAs tienen un papel muy importante en la expansión de proyectos rentables de (anti)desarrollo de globalización corporativa. Compiten en una carrera en la oferta de créditos con las restricciones ambientales menos estrictas posibles y a raíz de esa carrera hacia abajo, los proyectos que respaldan a menudo saquean el medio ambiente y distorsionan las vidas de las comunidades locales debido a sus impactos ambientales, políticos, sociales y culturales. Por ejemplo, las ECAs financian plantas de energía que emiten gases de efecto invernadero, grandes represas, proyectos de minería, construcción de carreteras en bosques tropicales prístinos, oleoductos, planes de plantación y explotación forestal, por nombrar algunos.

Sólo recientemente la mayoría de las ECAs adoptaron políticas ambientales comparables a las del Grupo Banco Mundial y las de los bancos regionales de desarrollo (como el Banco Europeo para la Reconstrucción y el Desarrollo, el Banco Africano de Desarrollo, el Banco Asiático de Desarrollo, el Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo). Estas políticas fueron el resultado de un acuerdo sobre una serie de recomendaciones, denominadas los "Enfoques Comunes", adoptadas en diciembre de 2003 en el Grupo de Créditos a las Exportaciones de la Organización para la Cooperación y el Desarrollo Económico en París, Francia.

Las políticas ambientales del los bancos regionales de desarrollo han sido criticadas por sus debilidades, al tiempo que el Grupo del Banco Mundial parece determinado a debilitar sus propias políticas también. Por lo tanto, las débiles normas de las ECAs se basan en los débiles parámetros de los bancos regionales o del Banco Mundial, con muy poco que poder mostrar en materia de liderazgo mundial. Mientras tanto, el acuerdo de los Enfoques Comunes está lleno de vías de escape. Por ejemplo, establece que los proyectos apoyados por las ECAs deben cumplir "en todos los casos" con las normas del Banco Mundial, los bancos regionales de desarrollo y del país receptor, a menos que una ECA "encuentre necesario" aplicar …¡normas inferiores!.

Otra característica de las ECAs es la total falta de transparencia ya que los impactos de sus proyectos no se dan a conocer a la opinión pública. Los Enfoques Comunes no exigen que las ECAs consulten a las comunidades y la sociedad civil afectada por los proyectos que financian. Según Transparencia Internacional, "sobornar a funcionarios extranjeros a fin de asegurar contratos en el exterior para sus exportaciones se ha convertido en una práctica habitual en los países industriales, particularmente en ciertos sectores como el de la exportación de equipos militares y el de obras públicas. Normalmente estos contratos son garantizados por planes de Seguros de Créditos a la Exportación (ECI por sus siglas en inglés) de carácter público o apoyados por los gobiernos (HERMES en Alemania, COFACE en Francia, DUCROIRE en Bélgica, ECGD en el Reino Unido)."

Gracias al apoyo de las ECAs, los bancos comerciales privados pueden eludir gran parte de sus responsabilidades. Como lo describiera un ejecutivo del Midland Bank a cargo de los negocios de armamento, "…antes de que adelantemos dinero a una compañía, siempre insistimos en que los fondos estén cubiertos por el Departamento de Garantía al Crédito a la Exportación (Export Credit Guarantee Department)[del Reino Unido] … No podemos perder. A los 90 días, si los iraquíes no pagaron a la compañía, paga el gobierno británico en su lugar. De cualquiera de las dos formas, recuperamos nuestro préstamo, más el interés por supuesto. Es hermoso." (Killing Secrets: ECGD, The Export Credit Guarantee Department, Killing Secrets, 1998.)

Un ejemplo de los proyectos perjudiciales apoyados por las ECAs es la inversión en la industria de la pulpa y el papel de Indonesia, que está entre las diez más grandes del mundo. Esto ha sido posible gracias a la inversión internacional de más de US$15 mil millones durante la década de 1990.

Los dos mayores productores de pulpa de Indonesia –Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) y Asia Pacific Resources International, Ltd (APRIL)– multiplicaron por nueve su producción entre 1988 y 1999, lo que implicó un gran aumento en el consumo anual de madera para pulpa de papel que pasó de 1,8 millones de m3 a 16,7 millones de m3.

Para satisfacer la demanda de fibra para la industria de la pulpa, el gobierno indonés promueve el establecimiento de plantaciones de árboles, a pesar de los problemas sociales y ambientales que generan. Aún así, el desarrollo de las plantaciones ha ido a la zaga del aumento en la capacidad de procesamiento de la industria y los productores de pulpa pasaron a depender de una mezcla de maderas duras tropicales. Un estudio del Banco Mundial calcula que la deforestación en Indonesia avanza a un ritmo de 2 millones há/año, lo que equivale aproximadamente a la superficie del territorio de Bélgica.

Otro ejemplo de la participación de las ECAs en proyectos ambientalmente destructivos es el gasoducto de gas natural Bolivia – Brasil, con un costo total de US$2 mil millones. La construcción del gasoducto requirió la tala del bosque, y se extiende sobre unos 3.150 kilómetros, desde Santa Cruz, Bolivia hasta Mato Grosso do Sul en Brasil. Atraviesa varios ecosistemas importantes: el Gran Chaco, un área protegida de bosque tropical seco primario en Bolivia; el Pantanal, el humedal más grande del mundo; y lo que queda del bosque tropical denominado Mata Atlántica en el sudeste de Brasil.

El proyecto, con sus problemas sociales concomitantes, también tiene impactos importantes sobre las comunidades locales en Brasil y Bolivia. En Bolivia el gasoducto atravesó un número de comunidades indígenas y un área protegida gestionada por una organización indígena. En Brasil, Transportadora Brasilera Gasoducto Bolivia – Brasil (TBG) cuyos inversores incluyen a Petrobras, Transredes, Enron y Shell, es la empresa propietaria del gasoducto; Gas Transboliviano S.A., un consorcio que comprende a Transredes, Nerón, Shell y Petrobras es la compañía dueña de la porción boliviana del gasoducto.

En 1997, el Banco Mundial se convirtió en la primera agencia multilateral en financiar el gasoducto. Otros bancos multilaterales involucrados son el Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo y el Banco Europeo de Inversiones (EIB). Las agencias de créditos a la exportación involucradas incluyen la agencia japonesa Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC), y la agencia italiana de créditos de exportación SACE, que conjuntamente aportaron la suma de US$346 millones.

Un segundo gasoducto de 630 kilómetros comienza en Ipiás, Bolivia, donde se bifurca del gasoducto principal Bolivia – Brasil y corre en sentido noreste hacia San Matías y de allí hacia Cuiaba, Brasil. Este gasoducto atraviesa unos 200 kilómetros del bosque tropical primario Chiquitano, 100 kilómetros de humedales prístinos del Pantanal y divide en dos el Área Natural de Manejo Integrado San Matías en Bolivia, la única área protegida para el mayor bosque seco tropical del mundo y las cabeceras del Pantanal. Este proyecto es financiado por Gas Oriente Boliviano (GOB), un consorcio formado por Enron, Shell, y Transredes. En 1999, Enron obtuvo financiamiento por US$ 200 millones del gobierno estadounidense a través de una de sus agencias de créditos de exportación: la agencia Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC).

El financiamiento fue aprobado a pesar de la Ley de Asistencia Exterior que prohíbe financiar proyectos en "bosques tropicales primarios". La Evaluación de Impacto Ambiental (EIA) del proyecto al igual que científicos independientes califican a esta región como "bosques tropicales primarios". Utilizando la degradación previa para justificar una mayor degradación, Enron, el principal patrocinador del proyecto, sostuvo que se trataba de un bosque "secundario" debido a las actividades esporádicas de tala en algunas partes.

Como forma de cortar sus pérdidas en la quiebra de Enron, OPIC se retiró en febrero 2002. De todas formas, los impactos locales sobre la región de bosques de Chiquitano y la población local han sido importantes: contaminación de los recursos hídricos locales, degradación de los caminos locales, contaminación de la tierra y el aire, aumento de la criminalidad, la prostitución y la perturbación de los poblados y ciudades locales debido a los campamentos de trabajadores.

Mientras las ECAs cumplen su papel, hay cada vez más conciencia de que están muy lejos de ser vehículos potenciales del desarrollo y, que por el contrario, encarnan una forma de globalización corrupta, turbia y ambiental y socialmente destructiva. Los procesos sociales en varios países del sur se oponen a estas agencias en búsqueda de otros mundos posibles, libres de la dependencia y la alienación de comercial.

* Extractado del Boletin 95 del WRM


(1) Por Marta Zogbi, Amigos de la Tierra Internacional, correo electrónico: [email protected]g Fuentes consultadas: 1. Ficha técnica – Abril de 2004 "El FMI y el medio ambiente",; 2. "The IMF and the Environment", Ved P. Gandhi, July 28, 1998,; 3. "The IMF: Funding Deforestation", Jason Tockman, American Lands Alliance, (en inglés); 4. "FMI bajo fuego por promover deforestación", Danielle Knight,; 5. ADITAL 22.06.05 – ARGENTINA "Respuesta de Jubileo Sur a la propuesta sobre Deuda del G8",

(2) Por Marcus Colchester, Programa para los Pueblos de los Bosques, correo electrónico: [email protected] Puede encontrarse información más detallada (en inglés) sobre las implicaciones de la Política sobre Bosques del Banco Mundial en: Por más información relacionada véase:

(3) Por Chris Lang, correo-e: [email protected]

(4) Artículo basado en información obtenida de: The Shadowy World of Export Credits", Tove Selin, Aaron Goldzimer, y Roy Jones, Asian Labour Update,; "Financial power + ECA: themes and alternatives", James Goodman, AID/WATCH and the Minerals Policy Institute,; "What are ECA?", ECAWatch,; "Export credits: Fuelling illegal logging", Chantal Marijnissen, FERN,

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