Leading civil society advocates are fuming that a review of Export Development Canada's business activities did little to advance the agency's obligations to human rights and transparency, and they are calling on the government to act.
The World Bank
Washington, D.C. 20433
Edith Grace Ssempala
Acting Senior Vice President External Affairs
October 26, 2008
Thank you for your letter regarding voice and participation of developing and transition countries in the governance of the World Bank Group. Mr. Zoellick asked me to respond, and I am therefore requesting that the Bretton Woods Project transmit this to all those who signed the letter.
The World Bank and Climate Change
The World Bank is one of the most powerful financial institutions in the world. Created in 1944, the Bank has now become the world’s largest public “development” agency, influencing the policies of the majority of the world’s developing and emerging economies. In recent years, noting the significant impact that climate change is already having on developing countries and the gap in financing mechanisms available for addressing these impacts, the World Bank has increasingly staked a claim for itself as a key player on the issue – with widespread criticism from developing country governments and civil society around the world.
Ms. Nicole Bollen
Working Party on Export Credits and Credit Guarantees and of the Participants to the Arrangement on Officially Supported Export Credits
2, rue André Pascal
F-75775 Paris Cedex 16
The Export Development Act, which came into force in 1969, established Export Development Canada and continues to govern its operations. Section 25 of the statute mandates a review, every ten years, of the legislation’s provisions and its operation. No later than one year following the commencement of the review, the designated Minister must submit a report to Parliament, which is considered in committee.
This submission to the review, prepared by the Halifax Initiative, focuses on the environmental, social and human rights standards utilized by EDC when it assesses client proposals. The submission also examines the legislative provisions governing disclosure by the Crown corporation.
In 1944, the Bretton Woods Conference established the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF). Every year at the end of March, the Minister of Finance tables a “Report on Operations under the Bretton Woods and Related Agreements Act”. As of 2008, these annual reports provide a comprehensive introduction to the institutions and Canada’s place within them, an overview of Canadian priorities and actions in 2007, and Canadian medium- term priorities looking forward.
Since 1995, the Halifax Initiative Coalition (HI) has produced report cards on these annual reports to Parliament. These report cards drew attention to the perfunctory nature of the reports and the absence of any substantive content with respect to Canadian priorities, policies and positions on the various issues before the Bank and Fund. They evaluate the transparency and accountability of Finance Canada to parliamentarians for Canadian activities at the institutions, and propose a model, based on best practice, for enhancing the report.
Canadian Government Reports on IFI Activity Get Good Grade The Canadian government’s annual reporting on its activities at international financial institutions is getting better, according to the authors, and to a Canadian civil society group which recently gave the latest report its best grade ever.
The Halifax Initiative said the report on 2007 activities merited a B+, up from last year’s rating of B-, and way up from the D grades of 2001-2005.