The Ecosystem and Indigenous Peoples Protection Act, introduced today by Christopher Cox (R-CA) and co-sponsored by a bipartisan coalition, is necessary. It requires automatic reduction of U.S. payments if the World Bank approves a project that is likely to result in substantial environmental harm or involuntary resettlement. The payments would be reduced by an amount equal to the U.S. share of the project's cost.
I am pleased to join Chris Cox and his bipartisan coalition in co-sponsoring this legislation, made even more necessary by the World Bank's recent plan to resettle Chinese farmers in Tibetan areas. This action goes against the World Bank's own rules for resettlement and environmental protection.
In June, the World Bank approved $160 million for the China Western Poverty Reduction Project, a dubious scheme designed to move almost 60,000 Chinese farmers into an ecologically fragile and traditionally Tibetan autonomous region. Thus, the World Bank lent its prestige, as well as its money, to a pernicious policy that seeks to obliterate the religious, linguistic, territorial, social, and political integrity of a venerable and vulnerable culture. As a result of population transfers already undertaken, Chinese hegemony is rapidly infiltrating all aspects of Tibetan life, and Tibetans are becoming a numerical minority in their own land.
The Cox bill is a logical extension of the 1989 Pelosi Amendment that requires international financial institutions, including the World Bank, to allow public inspection of the environmental impact statements for proposed loans 120 days before final approval and instructs the U.S. representation on the boards of such institutions to vote against any loans that are not subjected to timely public scrutiny. Unfortunately, World Bank funds often accelerate the processes of ecological stress and undermine the social and economic well-being of intended beneficiaries.
This legislation, introduced with explicit symbolism to coincide with the World Bank's Annual Meeting, sends a clear signal that Congressional support for projects that harm the environment and injure innocent people is rapidly evaporating.
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