How to help to poorer Nations on Environment
World Bank President Lewis Preston called on rich donors to back a $5-billion (€4 billion) fund to help the world's poorest nations protect their environment and make economic development more sustainable. The year was 1992, just six months after the collapse of the Soviet Union and when the ink was barely dry on the European Union treaty.
Preston’s "Earth increment" — unveiled at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro that June - was to provide low-cost environmental loans through the bank's International Development Association, a complement to the billions in aid promises made to help heal the economic and environmental rifts left by the Cold War.
But Preston's plan would — like other commitments to help the ecology of disadvantaged nations in the two decades since the Earth Summit — never saw the light of day.
With the UN Conference on Sustainable Development being held this week in Rio, there are constant reminders of the promises of the past fading with memory.
"Our politicians are recycling the same amount of money for different new thematic proposals, depending on the moment and depending on the international negotiations, with no additional thought at all," said Olivier Consolo, who heads the CONCORD charity confederation in Brussels.
"You now have a kind of momentum on the environment, on energy and a lot of promises, but always with the same money — money that was already committed to other things," he said.
Several European countries and the United States have turned aside calls dating to the early 1990s for a tax on world finance transactions to fund development aid. A modest proposal for a financial levy to finance EU operations and to raise domestic revenue is mired in opposition led by Britain.
The International Energy Agency and Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) have called for scrapping fossil fuel subsidies to help encourage a worldwide shift to clean energy and to lift development economies. Such recommendations have mostly gone nowhere.
Aerial View of Christ the Redeemer Monument in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil via Shutterstock.
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