Boulevard to broken dreams, Part 1: the Polonoroeste road Project in the Brazilian Amazon, and the World Bank’s environmental and indigenous peoples’ norms

Vol. 36 No. 1 (2016)

Jan-Mar / 2016
Published March 1, 2020
PDF-English
PDF-English

How to Cite

H. Wade, Robert. 2016. “Boulevard to Broken Dreams, Part 1: The Polonoroeste Road Project in the Brazilian Amazon, and the World Bank’s Environmental and Indigenous peoples’ Norms”. Brazilian Journal of Political Economy 36 (1), 214-30. https://doi.org/10.1590/0101-31572016v36n01a12.

Boulevard to broken dreams, Part 1: the Polonoroeste road Project in the Brazilian Amazon, and the World Bank’s environmental and indigenous peoples’ norms

Robert H. Wade
professor of political economy at the London School of Economics.
Brazilian Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 36 No. 1 (2016), Jan-Mar / 2016, Pages 214-230

Abstract

 Before the mid 1980s the World Bank conceived “nature” as something to be “conquered” and “environment” as a source of resources for “development”. By the late 1980s the Bank incorporated norms of environmental sustainability and indigenous peoples’ protection into its mandate, and other development-oriented IOs followed. This two-part paper describes how a fight over the Polonoroeste road project in the Brazilian Amazon inside the Bank, between the Bank and NGOs supported by the US Congress, and between the Bank and the government of Brazil helped to generate the far-reaching change of policy norms. The first part describes how the project was designed as an innovation in sustainable development in rainforests; and how it provoked a firestorm inside the Bank as it moved towards project approval.

JEL Classification: Q5; O13; I3.


Keywords: Policy norms, rainforests, indigenous peoples, World Bank, environmental NGOs, government of Brazil, US Congress