Trees Before Poverty; The World Bank’s Approach to Forestry and Climate Change

November 2011 – A World Growth Report

At the United Nations climate change conference in December 2009 in Copenhagen, the World Bank tabled a report recommending a global strategy to reduce the 17 per cent of global greenhouse emissions caused by deforestation and land use. The strategy consisted of curbing the forestry and agricultural sectors, and then substituting them with other industries. In other words, it presented a restructuring of the forestry and agricultural sectors. The Bank sought pledges to fund that strategy throughout and following UN conference based on the 17 per cent number, which it later revised downwards. The donor strategy to fund developing countries to cease forest-based activity and substitute them with ‘low carbon’ industries is based on unreliable data. It is a misconceived strategy that requires suppression of job-creating industries and relies on overseas aid funding. It also is dependent upon income from trading forest-based carbon credits generated by halting deforestation which as yet do not exist. This income is supposed to somehow fund the transition from developing economies to ‘low carbon’ economies. This is a transition that will undermine strategies to reduce poverty. It will, instead, perpetuate it.

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