Oakland, CA: Some 260 civil society organizations from around the world have joined forces to send a resounding rejection to the World Bank’s 2015 Doing Business report, which is to be released on October 29.
Since 2002, the Bank’s Doing Business project has been benchmarking and ranking countries on the ease of doing business. It rewards lowering social and environmental safeguards to facilitate foreign investments, thereby allowing the exploitation of natural resources and human capital by foreign corporations and local elites. Upheld as the flagship project by the World Bank, Doing Business has guided other benchmarking projects, including the 2013 Benchmarking the Business of Agriculture (BBA), developed at the G8’s urging.
“This race to the bottom, cheered on by the Doing Business metrics, has forced countries to adopt an economic and regulatory environment that favors big agribusinesses and foreign corporations. How the Bank usurped the authority to rank nations--dictating national policies in sovereign nations, which are most harmful to the working poor, the indigenous, pastoralists, and smallholder farmers--remains a puzzle. After years of devastating impacts caused by these rankings, international civil society is rejecting the 2015 report and denounces the Doing Business Rankings as an illegitimate practice for which the Bank has no mandate nor authority,” said Anuradha Mittal, Executive Director of the Oakland Institute.
With the World Bank setting standards for investors and bilateral donors and driving significant funds toward the best performers in the Doing Business system, governments refrain from challenging the rankings. Instead, governments set improving their Doing Business ranking as their policy goal, turning to the advisory services of the Bank to guide the implementation of regulations that will improve their score. This practice has undermined national sovereignty while thwarting the necessary public debate on economic and development policies, as made evident by the multi-continental campaign Our Land Our Business.
“There are no winners in this race to the bottom created by the Doing Business rankings--today’s version of the structural adjustment programs (SAPs) that devastated the livelihoods of millions of people through the withdrawal of state intervention and the forced liberalization of national economies in the 1980s and 1990s,” said Frederic Mousseau, Policy Director of the Oakland Institute. “With both the Bank’s Independent Evaluation Group and Independent Panel Review questioning the Doing Business report’s relevance in accomplishing the Bank’s goals to eradicate poverty and boost shared prosperity, it is time that governments around the world also reject the rankings and formally end the governance of their nations by the World Bank," Mousseau continued.