Tel Aviv, Israel, June 14, 2010
The Israeli Environmental Coalition contends that the World Bank has been undermining its own processes and procedures by conducting an insufficient and condensed study of the proposed ‘Red Sea-Dead Sea Conduit’ project
On Wednesday, 16 June, the World Bank will hold its third set of public hearings on the ‘Red-Dead’ Conduit project, to take place at Hotel Kibbutz Ramat Rachel in Jerusalem at 09:00am. The hearing, being held by the World Bank, will focus primarily on the ‘Initial Assessment Report’ dated March 2010 but just released to the public.
The Israeli Environmental Coalition, comprised of EcoPeace Middle East, the Society for the Protection of Nature, Israel Union for Environmental Defense, Life and Environment, Zalul and Green Course, asserts that the World Bank is in breach of their own guidelines in how they are conducting the study. Moreover, the Coalition asserts that the objectives of the proposed ‘Red Dead Conduit’ project would be better met through alternatives to the conduit project.
In 2008, the Coalition advocated the need to study other alternatives for saving the Dead Sea. While the World Bank conceded, at present the Study of Alternatives will be a desk study only and look at 12 alternatives over the course of 6 -12 months. The process is insufficient in time and in depth to determine the feasibility of the many alternative options.
The recently released ‘Initial Assessment Report’ shows that the study of the Red Dead Conduit also lacks thoroughness. The report is thick in volume but slim in relevant data. The report provides little new information that can assist in understanding the environmental and social effects of the project. It states that a lot of research work remains to be done. Yet, the timetable for the completion of the study remains the same – everything to be completed by mid 2011. It appears that sticking to the timetable is more important than providing a comprehensive study that can best serve the goals of the project and decision makers.
“The credibility of the World Bank is presently at stake. The Bank appears to be pushing through the project without sufficiently determining the environmental cost or what potential exists for other options,” says Gidon Bromberg, Israeli Director of EcoPeace Middle East. “By giving only lip-service to the other options, the World Bank is ignoring alternatives that are sound and less environmentally degrading.”
EcoPeace Middle East recently released two reports that identify how the restoration of the Jordan River would better serve the objectives laid out by the World Bank. The two reports together reveal that rehabilitating the Jordan River is a desirable option that is also economically far cheaper than the conduit. (available at: http://www.ecopeaceme.org/publications.php?ind=21)
Concerned citizens, politicians, scientists, non-governmental organizations and academics from around the country are set to take part in the public hearing. They will be demanding that the Bank comply with their own procedures that require a thorough and independent study of the project and its alternatives.