African Civil Society Organisations boycott World Bank consultation in Nairobi. Position Statement of African Civil Society Organisations for the IFC Safeguard Policy Review Consultation in Africa, November 29-30, 2004

African Civil Society Organisations boycott World Bank consultation in Nairobi. Position Statement of African Civil Society Organisations for the IFC Safeguard Policy Review Consultation in Africa, November 29-30, 2004

We, the undersigned African civil society organizations, working on and interested in extractive sector issues have decided not to officially participate in the IFC consultative process for Africa, held on November 29 and 30, 2004 in Nairobi, Kenya because of insufficient time and information on the process.

In September this year (2004) African Civil Society organisations, together with their colleagues from around the world, sent a letter to the IFC raising fundamental concerns and proposals about the proposed consultation process. The response from IFC to the concerns and proposals was so inadequate that it did not address the majority of the fundamental flaws associated with the process. Among the issues raised in the letter was the need for a more transparent, informative, and inclusive process.

Again, African civil society organisations and their colleagues participating in the annual meetings of the World Bank Group/International Monetary Fund (WBG/IMF) in October 2004 in Washington DC, USA, wrote a statement to the IFC requesting it to give the process "more time, more outreach, more translation, more information and more engagement than the current process allows". To date we have yet to receive any concrete response from IFC to this request.

Unfortunately the IFC chose to ignore these proposals and is rushing the process over many right holders. We observe with grave concern that even for the Africa regional consultative process on November 29th and 30th, 2004, there is clearly an inadequate timeframe for consultation among various right holder groups, inadequate spread of background information materials, and total lack of clarity on their outreach and feedback strategy on the consultation in Africa.

Much as we are desirous for any review that will ensure accountability and transparency in the IFC environmental and safeguard policies, we find it extremely difficult to spend time, energy, and resources to participate in a process that is not transparent. We cannot participate from an informed position without the essential information, and also without an understanding of the rules of engagement. We believe that the IFC could have improved upon the process by:

a. Giving sufficient and adequate timeframe for consultation by various right holder groups including civil society groups in the continent.

b. Defining clearly to participating organisations, its outreach and feedback strategies for the consultation

c. Making available in advance in the public domain various background documents, particularly a concept note that spells out clearly areas to be reviewed, the reasons for the review, and the procedure to be followed.

Our long experience working with communities affected by extractive projects, including those supported by the World Bank Group, has shown that large scale extractive sector investments by the World Bank Group, and in particular the IFC, have done little to contribute to poverty reduction through sustainable development on the continent. To the contrary, these investments have contributed significantly to the destruction of community livelihood sources, human rights violations and abuse of power, created social conflicts and systemic corruption, degraded the diversity of the environment and undermined democracy in many respects. The final report of the World Bank Group sponsored Extractive Industries Review affirmed this. (See http://www.worldbank.org/ogmc/) And it is precisely so because the framework for the Bank’s involvement in Africa’s extractives has been inadequate and unbalanced to meet the developmental priorities and needs of the people and communities.

We noted also with concern that the existing environmental and social safeguard policies of the IFC have been decidedly weak to protect community rights, the environment, and ensure development effectiveness.

The existing policies lack definitive criteria for measuring impacts and decision-making process that allow IFC to determine adequate compliance by companies, and also fair and equitable benefits by communities. The IFC has been suffering from serious and systemic problems with implementation of its already weak environmental and social safeguard policies. It is therefore not surprising that IFC supported projects are among the most controversial and contested projects in Africa. The Bulyanhulu mines in Tanzania and the Tchad-Cameroun pipeline project are but clear examples.

It is in view of the foregoing that we would welcome any review that seeks to correct the fundamental imbalances inherent in extractive sector activity in Africa, by adopting extractive sector policy frameworks that protect the interests and rights of communities, and promote environmental diversity and national development.

We believe that this can be achieved through a policy formulating process that is transparent, informative and inclusive. The IFC chose the contrary in its review process. We feel strongly that by this choice, IFC has subordinated public interest to corporate interest, and we feel obliged to spend our time, energy and resources in alternative important endeavours, rather than participating in a process whose outcome is already pre-determined.

Endorsed by:

1.    Third World Network-Africa (TWN-Africa), Ghana

2.    Friends of the Earth, Ghana

3.    Centre for Public Interest Law (CEPIL), Ghana

4.    Wassa Association of Communities Affected by Mining (WACAM), Ghana

5.    Green Earth Organization, Ghana

6.    ABANTU for Development, Ghana

7.    Friends Of The Nation, Ghana

8.    Environmental Rights Action (ERA)/ Friends of the Earth, Nigeria

9.    African Citizens Development Foundation (ACDF), Nigeria

10.  National Union of Ogoni Students International (NUOS Int’l) of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), Nigeria

11.  Nigeria Network of NGOs (NNNGO), Nigeria

12.  Citizens for a Better Environment (CBE), Zambia

13.  Lawyers’ Environmental Action Team (LEAT), Tanzania

14.  Yonge Nawe Environmental Action Group, Swaziland

15.  Highlands Church Solidarity and Action Centre, Lesotho

16.  CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, South Africa

17.  groundwork/Friends of the Earth, South Africa

18.  Environmental Justice Networking Forum (EJNF), South Africa

19.  IMF & World Bank Wanted For Fraud Campaign

20.  Planet Survey Environnement et Développement Durable (PSEDD),Cameroon

21.  Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR), Malawi

22.  Malawi Economic Justice Network (MEJN), Malawi

23.  KAMOTA Amédée et Kalimba Zéphyrin, Rwanda

24.  CAURWA ( Communauté des Autochtones Rwandais), Rwanda

25.  CENADEP (Centre National D’Affaire un Development et a la Participation Populaire), Congo DR

26.  Livaningo (Forum for a Bettter Environment), Mozambique

27.  GreenDev. (Reserach Group in Economic, Environment and Development), Madagascar

28.  Network Movement for Justice and Development, Sierra Leone

29.  MWENGO, Zimbabwe