11 April 2008—Thousands of delegates and stakeholders convened in Washington, DC this week to participate in the World Bank and IMF’s 2008 Spring Meetings. Accompanying the official meetings was the Civil Society Policy Forum, organized to foster a dialogue between Bank officials and civil society organizations regarding critical new policies and issues, such as the role of International Financial Institutions in climate change mitigation and adaptation.
IUCN’s Senior Multilateral Policy Advisor, Dr. Erich Vogt, was invited to moderate an IMF-sponsored panel on “Macroeconomic and Fiscal Consequences of Climate Change and Policies to Address It.” The panel provided a forum for the chief authors of two new IMF studies, “The Fiscal Implications of Climate Change,” and “Climate Change and the Global Economy” (as part of the World Economic Outlook) to present their findings on the macroeconomic implications of climate change. Stressing how good macroeconomic and structural policies could ease the potential damages of climate change, the IMF’s Michael Keen said the IMF also wants to make financial intervention, by means of a suite of financial instruments such as catastrophe bonds and weather derivatives, profitable to the private sector. “The IMF sees its role as advising countries where effects of climate change are macroeconomically significant, and to contribute to the wider debate,” said Mr. Keen.
Dr. Vogt also was requested to join a World Bank-sponsored discussion on the “World Bank Group Climate Change Strategic Framework,” where as a panelist he presented the Civil Society perspective on the upcoming consultation procedure. Dr. Vogt summarized the importance of CSO involvement by stating, “no one institution has either the know-how or the financial resources to achieve this alone. Partnerships are crucial, as is the pooling of information and lessons learned.” He called for more robust, timely consultations and stressed the critical importance of not only consulting governments and ministries of the countries and regions in which activity will occur, but of involving the local civil society. World Bank’s Steen Jorgensen underscored the Bank’s development mandate by stating that for the Bank and IFC, climate change was “not about conservation, not about the environment; it’s about people.”
The next Civil Society Policy Forum will take place in conjunction with the World Bank/IMF Annual Meetings to be held in Autumn 2008. Predictably, climate change promises to be of critical importance again as the World Bank and IMF consult with civil society organizations to map out an effective adaptation and mitigation strategy. “We may not get another chance to get this right,” Dr. Vogt said of the climate change challenge, “we must make this one work.”