In November 2014, 11 United States-based organizations wrote a letter to Sara Aviel, U.S. Alternative Executive Director of the World Bank, urging her to phase out the World Bank’s Doing Business and Benchmarking the Business of Agriculture (now called Enabling the Business of Agriculture) projects because of their consequences on food security and land rights in developing countries around the world.
To date, Ms. Aviel and the World Bank have not responded to the group’s letter.
Signers–and co-signers of the letter include; Anuradha Mittal, Executive Director, Oakland Institute; Danielle Nierenberg, President, Food Tank; Bret Thiele, Co-Executive Director, Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; Lawrence & Catherine Halvey-Goodwin, Founders and Co-Executive directors, PLANT; Alnoor Ladha, Executive Director, The Rules; Carleen Pickard, Managing Director, Global Exchange; David Pred, Co-Founder and Managing Director, Inclusive Development International; Alex Jensen, Local Futures / ISEC; Lauren Ornelas, Founder and Executive Director, Food Empowerment Project; Aldo Caliari, Director, Rethinking Bretton Woods Project / Center of Concern; and Erich Pica, Executive Director, Friends of the Earth, U.S. The letter was sent on behalf of Our Land Our Business, a multi-continental campaign endorsed by 260 civil society organizations, trade unions, and farmers groups from around the world.
In Oakland Institute’s press release, Executive Director, Anuradha Mittal states, “The U.S. is a key supporter of the Doing Business ranking and has chosen to ignore the devastating impact of this race to the bottom it has set in motion to ensure corporate profits. We are joined by the world’s poorest and the most marginalized in demanding that this stops NOW.”
The Doing Business report benchmarks and ranks 189 economies; and according to the Oakland Institute, it has lowered labor and environmental standards, taxation of corporations, diminished businesses’ contribution to social security, and allowed cheap and easy transfers of land to attract investors.
Food Tank President Danielle Nierenberg, who signed the letter, states, “Applied to agriculture, such tools can create competition between developing countries to facilitate the importation of patented seeds and expensive artificial fertilizers. The new Enabling the Business of Agriculture will foster dependence of smallholders on costly and environmentally destructive agricultural inputs, which are largely produced by Northern agribusinesses, not by local communities.”
The groups are demanding the U.S. take action to make sure the World Bank’s primary objective to eliminate poverty is upheld.
Read Oakland Institute’s press release.
Read the letter addressed to the U.S. Alternate Executive Director of the World Bank.