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As torrential rains produced by the El Niño weather phenomenon continued causing massive human suffering and material losses in Peru, IDB President Enrique V. Iglesias announced in February that the Bank was prepared to lend the country an additional $150 million to help recovery efforts. Many of Peru's rivers were flowing at volumes four or five times greater than during the last El Niño, which occurred in 1982-83.



The IDB has declared its willingness to support the recent efforts of Ecuador and Peru to resolve their territorial dispute. Hailing a diplomatic agreement reached in Rio de Janeiro in January as a "historic step and a lesson in inter-American maturity," IDB President Enrique V. Iglesias said that the breakthrough will enable the two countries to focus their energies on social and economic development needs. The Bank will consider "with interest" any initiatives that may spring from the bilateral agreement.



The world's largest nonprofit conservation organization, The Nature Conservancy, signed a landmark agreement in February with the IDB-administered Multilateral Investment Fund to create a new venture capital fund that will invest in environmentally responsible businesses in Latin America and the Caribbean. The new fund, Fondo EcoEmpresas, will invest up to $800,000 in start-up ventures in fields such as organic agriculture, non-timber forest products, sustainable forestry and ecotourism.



As Latin America continues down the road of privatization and private pension funds, increasing numbers of ordinary citizens for the first time are becoming players in the capital markets. But the Council of Securities Regulators of the Americas thinks that what these new investors don't know could hurt them badly. So the council is carrying out a region-wide investor education campaign with the slogan, "Get informed. It's your money. It's your future." The program, which has the backing of the IDB, will be carried out in 21 countries.

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