Lauren E Eastwood
April 27, 2011
Over the past several decades, prominent international financial institutions (IFIs) have come to be seen as iconic representations of neoliberal globalization associated with a hegemonic definition of development. While the dominant discourse is one that justifies some negative environmental and social outcomes as a logical cost of development, the spotlight on the impacts of development projects in the recent past has led many multilateral development banks to reassess their existing social and environmental policies, or, in some cases, to develop new ones. This article traces the history of the World Banks review and revision of its policy related to Indigenous Peoples as well as its lending for projects related to extractive industries. The goal in using these specific cases is to elucidate some of the political dynamics associated with international development and the role of IFIs. The analysis of recent IFI-based policy reviews is used to draw conclusions about current and near future implications of the policy terrain regarding the World Banks continued emphasis on extractive industries (Bebbington et al 2008: 889) and its more recent involvement in projects associated with climate change mitigation. Using the case of the Banks policy reviews, I analyze the ways in which Indigenous Peoples have engaged in the process of defining the World Banks policy terrain that has more than semantic consequences. While the World Bank has attempted to maintain policies that facilitate accumulation through dispossession (Harvey 2003), Indigenous Peoples have strategically resisted this process by deploying a rights-based discourse (related to land tenure, governance dynamics, and self-determination) that is being codified in other international policy-making processes. Specific examples of interactions between the World Bank and Indigenous Peoples illustrate the tension between discourses of capital accumulation and environmental or social responsibility.