World Bank Finances Polluting Incinerators, Flouts International Law

For Immediate Release

Monica Wilson, Essential Action,

+1-510-524-4000 x104, cell: +1-510-682-7663,;

Manny Calonzo, GAIA Secretariat, Manila,


Washington, D.C. and Manila (September 25, 2002) -- The Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) today released a new report documenting the World Bank's continued funding of incineration, a polluting technology receiving intense criticism in many countries. The report, available online at, documents 156 World Bank Group projects in 68 countries in the last 10 years that have promoted incineration; 26 of those projects were initiated since 2001, including two projects that recommended incinerating PCBs in Argentina and Brazil, an Indian project that recommended incinerating PVC byproducts, and another Indian project that recommended an incinerator at a pesticide plant.

A protest with incinerators and skeletons symbolizing the threat of incinerators to public health will be held in Washington, DC today at 5 pm in front of the World Bank Group headquarters at 1818 H St., NW.

"It's outrageous that an institution like the World Bank is using public money to destroy public health," said Von Hernandez, GAIA coordinator in the Philippines. Incinerators release a wide array of highly hazardous pollutants to the air, water and land. "The Bank must immediately stop funding incineration," Hernandez continued.

One set of pollutants of particular concern is known as Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), and includes dioxins, furans and PCBs. Incinerators are the world's primary source of dioxins, which have been shown to cause a wide range of cancers, immune system damage, and reproductive and developmental problems. A recently concluded global treaty, the Stockholm Convention, seeks to eliminate the release of POPs, which are often handed down from mothers to unborn children.

"The World Bank Group's continued funding of incinerators, in spite of the Stockholm Convention, is a direct affront to the 122 nations who signed the Convention. The World Bank and International Finance Corporation are operating as if they are above international law," said Neil Tangri, the report's author. "It's particularly hypocritical that the World Bank is seeking funds to clean up POPs problems at the same time that it continues to create new ones." The report notes that the World Bank is engaged in several efforts to clean up existing concentrations of POPs but has refused to implement any restrictions on its own funding of incinerators.

In September 1999, the New York Times reported that James Wolfensohn, President of the World Bank Group, had made a personal contribution of US$50,000 to an effort to prevent the construction of a mixed hazardous
waste incinerator near his vacation home in Wyoming.

"Wherever incinerators are used, better alternatives exist," explains Monica Wilson of Essential Action in Washington, D.C. "Alternatives require a little ingenuity but much less expense than incinerators. They save
resources, generate jobs and most importantly, protect public health."


AMP Section Name:World Financial Institutions
  • 194 World Financial Institutions
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