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Former Arizona Governor and ex-U.S. Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt presents environmental report at Inter-American Development Bank

Former Governor of Arizona and ex-Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt has presented senior management and executive directors of the Inter-American Development Bank with the conclusions of a task force he chaired that recommended ways to increase the Bank’s role in promoting environmentally and socially sound sustainable development in Latin America and the Caribbean and in strengthening the institution’s new draft Environment and Safeguards Compliance Policy. 

IDB management welcomed the recommendations, contained in the Final Report of Recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Panel on the Environment, and thanked Babbitt and the Panel their “insightful recommendations and assistance to the Bank as it prepares for a sustainable future.”

The report contained 20 recommendations in four areas: “Standards and Harmonization,” “Moving Sustainability Analysis Upstream,” “Civil Society Engagement,” and “Capacity, Systems and Resources.” Suggestions included the harmonization of Bank environmental protection practices with those of other multilateral financial institutions; dedication of additional resources to ensure the “mainstreaming” of environmental, social, and cultural sustainability into its programming and lending operations; the development of new approaches for the incorporation of civil society into project design and execution; and the strengthening of best practices in both the borrowing countries and the Bank. 

The Panel’s proposals were discussed Wednesday by the IDB Board of Executive Directors, with the participation of Babbitt, as part of its process of updating and strengthening the Bank’s environmental and social policies and programs and operations for sustainable development. 

“There is room for the IDB to take significant new measures that will enhance the environmental quality and sustainability of its planning, policies and operations,” Babbitt said. “We are confident that our proposals, if adopted, will enable the IDB to attain a position of leadership in the multilateral financial community.”

IDB President Enrique V. Ingesias said “we are pleased to receive the carefully crafted and thoughtful proposals of the eminent Blue Ribbon Panel, which will be a significant contribution to the ongoing process of upgrading the Bank’s environmental policies and operations and consolidating the IDB’s role as a leader in sustainability. These recommendations will serve as a springboard to an enhanced environmental agenda, which the Bank is already in the process of carrying out.”

The other members of the Blue Ribbon Panel are José Goldemberg, environment secretary for the State of São Paulo and former chairman of World Energy Assessment; Stephen Green, HSBC Group chief executive; Lynn Holowesko, former ambassador for the Environment and chair of the Bahamas Environment, Science and Technology Commission; Yolanda Kakabadse, former minister of the Environment for Ecuador and former president of the World Conservation Union (IUCN);  Thomas Lovejoy, president, the H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and the Environment; Juan Mayr Maldonado, former minister of the Environment for Colombia; William Reilly, former EPA administrator; and Maurice Strong, former CEO of Ontario Hydro and currently special advisor to the Secretary General of the United Nations.

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