World Bank funds Mangrove Destruction

Greenpeace protests Financial Institution involvement in wetland devastation

Press release - 21 November, 2002

Greenpeace protests against the contribution of the World Bank to the shrimp aquaculture industry at the COP8 conference in Valencia

Greenpeace protested today against the contribution of the World Bank and other lending institutions to the shrimp aquaculture industry at the 8th Conference of the Parties (COP 8) of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands (1). The shrimp aquaculture industry is believed to be the primary cause of mangrove and wetland destruction throughout the tropical coastal regions of the world.

Greenpeace activists unfurled a banner at the Science Museum, which is hosting the COP 8, that read "WORLD BANK: STOP MANGROVE DESTRUCTION". The banner also depicted a large human skull exuding dollars near a map of Latin America.

"World Bank loans for new shrimp farms , as revealed by several recent case studies carried out in Latin America, caused massive mangrove destruction, and social disruption", stated Eva Hernandez, of Greenpeace. "Some clear examples are the providing of recent funding to industrial shrimp aquaculture expansion in Belize and Honduras-including Ramsar Sites-affecting mangroves and other tropical coastal ecosystems." Mangroves stand out among the coastal wetlands of international importance, and are vital for sustaining local communities in developing countries.

Greenpeace was joined by Red Manglar (Mangrove Network), Mangrove Action Project, PREPARE and other visiting NGOs at today's protest where groups denounced the non-compliance of the Resolution 1989, Article 4 of the Human Rights Commission to the United Nations, which states that the payment of the external debt by developing countries should not jeopardise human rights and environment On the contrary, this resolution is often violated by current World Bank lending policies.

"Conservation efforts are being thwarted by these violations of Ramsar resolutions meant to conserve wetlands of international importance; Too many wetlands are being lost to this ongoing disregard by both the World Bank and the shrimp aquaculture industry for Ramsar´s stated objectives," said Lider Gongora of Red Manglar.

Gongora also highlighted the perversity of systems imposed by World Bank and other international financial institutions such as the Inter-American Development Bank for countries in debt: public money for private appropriation, and harmful to environment and people thus violating UN resolutions.

In a statement read to plenary at CoP 8, Greenpeace, Red Manglar, MAP, PREPARE, other NGOs urged Ramsar to carry out a study on the ecological and socio-economic impacts of unsustainable shrimp aquaculture impacting Ramsar Sites, and other wetlands and the extent to which Resolution VII.21 paragraph 15 has been implemented and to demand the World Bank and other multilateral financial institutions to stop the financing and/or promotion of industrial shrimp aquaculture.

Greenpeace will sponsor this afternoon a side event on the COP 8, to present a report on the Role of International Financial Institutions in the destruction of Mangroves in Latin America.

Notes: (1)The Convention on Wetlands, signed in Ramsar, Iran, in 1971, is an intergovernmental treaty which provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources. There are presently 133 Contracting Parties to the Convention, with 1229 wetland sites, totaling 105.9 million hectares, designated for inclusion in the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance