WWF warns of environmental impact of reforms

Greece’s reform program has a negative knock-on effect on the environment, according to letters published on Tuesday and addressed by environmental group World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

The global conservation group highlighted a series of significant environmental setbacks resulting from the economic adjustment program for Greece — co-financed by the IMF, the European Commission and the European Central Bank — such as lax environmental permitting regulations, especially in the case of large-scale investments; the legalization of illegal developments in protected areas; uncontrolled sale of public land; cutbacks to environmental staff and budgets in public authorities; dismantling of environmental governance institutions; and «questionable support» going to dirty energy sources, including coal.

?The crisis in Greece is causing serious social hardship but the environment is also being hit as a result of problematic policies,? said Dimitris Karavellas, Director of WWF Greece. ?The Greek government is sidelining the sustainable development agenda with the approval of the IMF, the EC and the ECB. WWF calls on the troika of lenders… to recognize this alarming trend and offer the necessary support, in order for Greece to plan and follow a more environmentally and socially sustainable development path. Failure to do so is seriously undermining our future,? Karavellas added.

?During the past 15 years, WWF has repeatedly called on international financial institutions, including the IMF, to revise their lending policies and support the transition of financially troubled countries towards a development path that is environmentally and socially sustainable. This call has become more urgent as economic activity is rapidly surpassing nature?s budget?, said Jim Leape, director general of WWF International.

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