Peru Gets Environmental Loan
The Equatorial Press Lead Story

Peru gained $330 million from the World Bank in February, marking a major push by the international community and Peru's Western friendly government to safeguard the national environment. Though a large portion of the attention was focused on the usual topics of sustainable resource use and protection of species, the World Bank added an incisive focus on poverty, linking Peru's poor populations with the environmental degradation they suffer. Citing high levels of lead poisoning among the nation's poor indigenous populations and the legacy of toxic mining substances among worker communities, the Bank urged an institutional reform among the Peruvian government to protect its population while simultaneously protecting its environment.

One of the strongest points on the Bank's proposed agenda is to provide assistance in shoring up the nation's judicial and federal systems involved in environmental protection and welfare. Additionally, they urge setting standards for environmental monitoring programs, as well as strengthening government oversight in areas such as mining, air quality, and the fishing industry.

Despite its strong social message, this is not the first environmentally focused loan the World Bank has extended to Peru. Its 2008 loan of $300 million for a liquid natural gas pipeline attracted protests and widespread outrage from conservationists and cultural survival groups, who attested that the pipeline was approved without due consideration for the affected areas and groups. Ian Gary, senior policy advisor at Oxfam America, said at the time that the World Bank's support for the pipeline would "greatly undermine its new environmental and social policies by not fully applying these standards to the gas fields in the Peruvian Amazon." With its new 2009 loan, the World Bank may be taking a step to appease its detractors and meet its own standards, or it may be seeking to rewrite the standards entirely.
-Equatorial Press Staff Report. Photo Courtesy of Theodore Scott.