Ocean world-bank-logo

Published on February 28th, 2012 | by danbacher

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Saving the seas for the banksters?

world bank

The World Bank, an organization notorious for promoting structural adjustment policies and the privatization of public services that have devastated developing countries and the environment, on February 24 announced the formation of an international coalition supposedly designed to “protect” the oceans.

“A powerful coalition of governments, international organizations, civil society groups and private interests joining together under the banner of a Global Partnership for Oceans to confront widely documented problems of over-fishing, marine degradation, and habitat loss,” a press release for the World Bank claimed.

The decision to hold the event in Singapore, a police state known for its repressive laws and policies, is apparently designed to stop any pesky protesters and opponents of corporate globalization from showing any opposition to the highly choreographed event, The Economist’s World Oceans Summit.

Of course, the organizers of the event, in contrast to genuine grassroots ocean activists, are preaching the “gospel” of spreading failed privatization policies like the type of questionable “marine protected areas” created under California’s Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative and NOAA Administration Jane Lubchenco’s “catch shares” program to the rest of the world.

“Under the terms of the alliance, the World Bank-led project would pledge $300 million in ‘catalytic finance,’ followed by as much as $1.2 billion more to be raised with the help of governments, the private sector and civil society groups, according to the Wall Street Journal. “The money would be spent on technical assistance to help governments implement reforms and to help operate marine protected areas to prevent overfishing, among other steps.” (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204778604577243182434990046.html)

You can expect these “marine protected areas” promoted by the World Bank, like those established under the corrupt MLPA Initiative, to fail to protect the ocean from oil drilling and spills, water pollution, wave and wind energy projects, military testing, corporate aquaculture, habitat destruction and all other human impacts upon the ocean other than fishing and gathering.

In an overt case of corporate greenwashing, Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the president of the Western States Petroleum Association, served as chair of the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force that created the questionable “marine protected areas” that went into effect on the Southern California coast on January 1, 2012. She also served on the task forces for the North Central and North Central Coasts.

Zoellick announces public-private partnership

In a keynote speech delivered at The Economist’s World Oceans Summit, World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick said the Partnership would bring “science, advocacy, the private sector, and international public institutions together to advance mutually agreed goals for healthy and productive oceans.”

“The world’s oceans are in danger, and the enormity of the challenge is bigger than one country or organization,” Zoellick said. “We need coordinated global action to restore our oceans to health. Together we’ll build on the excellent work already being done to address the threats to oceans, identify workable solutions, and scale them up.”

Zoellick discussed the importance of developing “public-private partnerships” to “save” the oceans. “What I found in this area, but also other areas of development, that’s been quite encouraging is I’m increasingly finding private companies that find that the governments themselves seem to be stuck,” he stated.

“The private companies want to push the agenda but sometimes they’re less familiar with how to build the governance structures. And so if we can get those interconnected, I think we can make progress,” he noted.

Zoellick is notorious for his role as one of the signatories of a January 26, 1998 letter to President Bill Clinton drafted by the Project for the New American Century calling for “removing Saddam [Hussein]’s regime from power.” The signatories also included Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Elliott Abrams, Zalmay Khalilzad, John R. Bolton, Richard Armitage, and Bill Kristol.

The press release continued, “Further discussions will help define the new partnership’s specific agenda. These discussions will address improved governance systems around fishing, more marine protected areas, intensified efforts to attack the sources of ocean pollution and degradation as well as improved coastal management for resilience to weather and climate-related threats.”

Walmart funds corporate NGOs backing the alliance

The World Bank claimed that “numerous” ocean-focused NGOs “have expressed support for the new alliance.” Unfortunately, most of the groups mentioned, including Conservation International, Environmental Defense Fund, the Nature Conservancy and Oceana, are notorious for their top-down, “collaborative” approach to “solving” ocean problems – and excluding input from indigenous communities around the globe.

“As the world’s population grows to 9 billion people by 2050, the demand for food and other resources will double,” said Conservation International Chief Executive Officer Peter Seligmann. “It is in the enlightened self interest of all nations and all communities to wisely steward our oceans. Humanity needs the oceans to thrive. Collaboration is essential.”

President of The Nature Conservancy, Mark Tercek claimed, “There is an urgent need to scale up the pace of ocean conservation around the world by bringing together a wide range of partners who are vested in the oceans; the World Bank’s leadership and commitment is a huge step forward towards achieving this. This is a tremendous opportunity for countries to realize tangible benefits – jobs, livelihoods, and economic development – by managing their oceans in a way that builds their natural capital.”

The press release failed to note that these organizations are funded by Walmart. In an August 16, 2011 news release from Wal-Mart corporate headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas, the Walton Family Foundation announced “investments” totaling more than $71.8 million awarded to various environmental initiatives in 2010.

The foundation handed over $36 million alone to Marine Conservation grantees. The three top recipients of the Walton Foundation money for ocean “protection” were Conservation International, $18,640,917; the Nature Conservancy,$9,305,449; and Environmental Defense Fund, $7,086,054.

The Nature Conservancy in California is a strong backer of state and federal plans to build a peripheral canal or tunnel to export more Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta water to corporate agribusiness and southern California water agencies. Peripheral canal opponents, including recreational anglers, commercial fishermen, Delta residents, family farmers and California Indian Tribes, believe the construction of the canal would result in the extinction of Central Valley steelhead, Sacramento River chinook salmon, Delta smelt, longfin smelt and southern resident killer whales.

Rob Walton and Stewart Resnick serve on Conservation International board

Walmart CEO Rob Walton, through his Walton Family Foundation, not only dumped $18,640,917 into the coffers of Conservational International, but he is chairman of the executive committee of the organization’s Board of Directors (http://www.conservation.org/about/team/bod).

Walton serves on the board of Conservation International with fellow billionaire Stewart A. Resnick, Chairman of the Board of Roll International Corporation, who is the largest tree fruit grower in the world and one of the biggest recipients of subsidized water from the imperiled California Delta.

While making a tidy profit from selling his subsidized water back to the public, Resnick has waged a relentless campaign to divert more water from the Delta through the peripheral canal and has done everything in his power to eviscerate Endangered Species Act protections for Central Valley steelhead, Sacramento River chinook salmon, Delta smelt and other listed species.

Resnick’s Coalition for a Sustainable Delta, an agribusiness “Astroturf” group, has also spent a great deal of effort in litigation attempting to eradicate striped bass, now officially classified as a “native” fish, from the San Francisco Bay-Delta Estuary by falsely claiming that “striped bass,” rather than water exports, are the cause of Delta smelt and salmon declines. For more information, go to: http://blogs.alternet.org/danbacher/2012/02/02/commission-votes-against-pursuing-striped-bass-eradication-proposal.

Unleashing private investment is the ‘solution’

Supporters of the World Bank’s new alliance highlighted the need for improved governance to improve oceans management, and “unleash greater private investment in sustainable ocean enterprises.”

“Almost all the challenges facing ocean sustainability stem from governance and market failures,” said Andrew Hudson, Head, UNDP Water & Ocean Governance Programme.

“Our experience has been that supporting ocean governance reform at all levels creates an enabling environment that can in turn catalyze sizeable quantities of public and private sector finance to sustain ocean ecosystem services. The Global Partnership for Oceans provides a key means of implementation to scale up proven approaches,” said Hudson.

Support for the Global Partnership for Oceans includes: a number of developed and developing countries and country groupings, including island nations; non-government organizations and advocacy bodies like Conservation International, Environmental Defense Fund, the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF), the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), National Geographic Society, The Nature Conservancy, Oceana, Rare and World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

Support also includes science bodies like the US’s National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); private investors like Paine & Partners and industry groups like the National Fisheries Institute, and the World Ocean Council whose members rely on sustainable seafood supplies or are dependent on ocean resources; international organizations including the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), The Global Environment Facility, Global Ocean Forum, GRID Arendal (Norway), the United Nations Development Programme, United Nations Environment Programme, UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission and the World Bank Group.

There is no doubt that if you like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s MLPA Initiative and Jane Lubchcenco’s “catch shares” program, you’ll really love the World Bank’s Global Partnership for Oceans!

For more information, go to: http://www.globalpartnershipforoceans.org

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