The World Bank overstates its commitment to financing sustainability-minded projects in developing countries and should greatly improve its efforts, according to an internal review. Official estimates hold that the bank put $59 billion into environment-focused projects between 1990 and 2007; while the bank’s coding system makes it difficult to figure out specifics, the Independent Evaluation Group review estimates that perhaps only $18.2 billion was allocated to projects at least 80 percent environmentally focused. In addition, the review says, long-run sustainability concerns are often given short shrift; good green intentions may not carried out on the ground; and administrative priorities and coordination ain’t what they could be. Bank managers acknowledge flaws, but say official statistics don’t tell the whole story. Regardless, the bank needs to step it up, says the evaluation group’s Vinod Thomas: “It is clear now from the Amazon to India that if environmental sustainability is not raised as a priority then all bets are off.”
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