June 01, 2003

World Bank Policy Documents Draw Praise, Criticism

The paper, largely based on a 2001 meeting of the GEF’s Standing Technical Advisory Panel in Nairobi, is the first official policy statement to reflect the GEF’s new commitment to Bus Rapid Transit, non-motorized transport and traffic demand management strategies.

The second document is a draft of the upcoming Mobile Source Handbook being developed by the World Bank Air Quality Thematic Group.  While designed to guide elected officials in developing cities to reduce air pollution caused by motor vehicles, it will also serve to inform World Bank lending for air quality projects.  The World Bank circulated the draft for comment, and it was discussed at a June 19th meeting in Bangkok.  ITDP, Lloyd Wright, the Center for Science and Environment, and other leading experts provided extensive comments.  The Bank is reviewing this feedback, and plans to release a revised draft of the document later this summer, which it will post on its web site for general comment.

Several reviews submitted by transport experts and advocacy groups are available on our Information Center.  Below are some excerpts:

As the document is intended to serve as a decision-making guide not only for policy-makers in developing countries, but also for World Bank staff who have the power to put conditions on large infrastructure loans, the draft is disappointing. In our view, the decision-making logical framework that it recommends is divorced from current decision-making procedures without necessarily being an improvement on these procedures. 

— Dr. Walter Hook, ITDP

A major disappointment of the document is the implication that traffic management is all about the movement of cars. This rather outmoded approach to traffic management is particularly disappointing given the document purports to address the needs of developing cities, where traffic is often dominated by flows of pedestrians, non-motorized transport, and public transport. 

— Karl Fjellstrom, GTZ

For the most part, the manual reads more like ‘how not to do it’ than ‘how to do it’.  This manual will only satisfy those regulators and the industry representatives in the developing countries who are looking for excuses to justify minimum action to control mobile source pollution.  This document will simply breed complacency and inaction with a ‘legitimate sanction’ from the World Bank. 

— Anumita Roychowdhury, Centre for Science and Environment, India

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