Has the World Bank kept its commitment to a multisectoral forestry approach?


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That is one of the key questions that must be answered by the World Bank Operations Evaluation Department (OED) review now underway of how the Bank has implemented its 1991 Forest Sector Policy.

OED first reviewed the World Bank’s experience with forestry lending and policy in 1990. That review expressed concern that the Bank had failed to give sufficient attention to the intersectoral and macroeconomic factors that affect forests and had not systematically incorporated forest concerns into macroeconomic formulation and reform.

In response, the Bank’s 1991 Forest Sector Policy committed the institution to a multisectoral approach to forest issues that linked the Bank’s forestry activities more closely to its other country economic and sector work.

Specifically, the Bank said it would:

* Evaluate how macroeconomic policies affect the perceived benefits of keeping trees on land.

* Incorporate forest issues into its general policy dialogues and country assistance strategies.

* Encourage governments to create intersectoral oversight mechanisms to monitor achievement of forestry goals.

* Experiment with different multisectoral approaches through pilot projects or programs in a few countries.

* Support population policies, agricultural intensification, the alleviation of poverty, and the creation of employment opportunities in other sectors to relieve the fundamental pressures on the forest over the longer term.

* Give priority to increasing agricultural productivity and to expanding non-farm employment opportunities in poor densely populated areas, especially those adjacent to forest areas and those from which most forest encroachers originate.

* Promote the elimination of policies that encourage deforestation by agricultural settlers such as subsidies for livestock ranching in the Amazon and the tying of land titling to land clearance.

* Sponsor rigorous environmental assessments of projects that might open up forest lands to settlers such as roads, railways, dams, mines, and agricultural settlement schemes. These assessments were supposed to help restrict access to forests and were to include cost-benefit analyses that assigned values to all important environmental effects.

These are strong promises. Were they kept?

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Further reading

Please send your thoughts on that topic to Uma Lele, the person coordinating the current OED evaluation of the Bank’s implementation of the 1991 forest sector policy at: mailto:ulele@worldbank.org Specific examples, both positive and negative, could be helpful.

You may also write Mary Sherman, the person responsible for Bank efforts to consult with stakeholders regarding its new forestry strategy, at: mailto:freview@worldbank.org