World Bank Open Letter
July 23, 2009
Mr. Robert Zoelick
I am writing to you to express our deepest concern that the World Bank is failing developing countries in their desire to develop sustainable biofuels industries and relieve their crippling reliance on imported crude oil. Your Bank remains on the sidelines without any commitment to investing in biofuels projects while many developing countries look for scarce capital to build local projects.
World Bank Failing Developing Countries:
Lack of Support for Biofuels Called Short-SighThe Global Renewable Fuels Alliance (GRFA) represents over 65% of the world’s biofuels production from 44 countries including many Africa nations. Our mission is to support the expanded use of biofuels globally so that all countries may share the numerous benefits of biofuels production.
Mr. Zoelick, according to World Watch, thirty-eight of the forty-five poorest countries on earth are net importers of crude oil yet many of these underdeveloped countries possess vast amounts of biomass and potential for sustainable biofuels production. The crude oil price increases in 2008 wiped out all the debt relief commitments made to developing countries over the past decade and future crude oil price increases will permanently impair most developing countries from reaching their full potential.
It is estimated that by 2050, biomass theoretically could supply 65% of the world’s current energy consumption, with sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America accounting for roughly half of this global potential. Several potential projects have emerged in Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique, Sudan and South Africa looking to attract investment; however, access to scarce capital has stalled most projects despite this overwhelming potential.
We believe that developing local biofuels strategies tailored to the unique characteristics of a region can and should be done in a sustainable way. With the right strategies and assistance, many developing countries could quickly develop projects that will reduce their damaging reliance on imported crude. Moreover, World Bank investment in Agriculture has plummeted over the past 30 years while most developing countries’ economies are heavily reliant on agricultural as a source of employment and income. Investing in local biofuels programs would immediately attract investment into the agricultural sector and increase farm income.
Mr. Zoelick, we are urging you to take a well informed and research based position with respect to biofuels so that you can develop a sustainable strategy for investing in biofuels projects in developing countries. To date, the Bank has taken an ad hoc approach to biofuels based on inadequate research and biases that have tainted your position. There are many projects in developing countries ready today that could benefit from access to capital and the assistance of the World Bank if you were to develop a sound strategy for investing in these countries.
We look forward to you response.
Global Renewable Fuels Association