(Interview: Moritz Schröder-Therre)
As a campaigner, you have particularly stubborn opponents in the form of the global development banks. How great is your capacity for suffering?
When it comes to the World Bank, it's almost endless, because I couldn't do my job otherwise. You really have to have an endless frustration tolerance here.
Why is that such a natural part of this job?
You simply experience a lot of setbacks, for example when projects are being discussed where I immediately know that it will backfire, that the environment will be destroyed, that people will have to suffer. And although we protest against it, such projects still take place again and again. For example, when I look at the World Bank's resistance to advice in pushing ahead with the construction of a new lignite-fired power plant in Kosovo, even though there was a huge amount of expert opinion proving that Kosovo could also cover its energy needs by investing in renewable energies and energy conservation. At such moments, I first despair. Then I swallow once and move on.
To summarize for people who don't know the subject as well as you do: What is the World Bank's mission and how well is it fulfilling it right now?
The World Bank's mission is to fight absolute poverty worldwide and to ensure shared prosperity, but in practice it is not doing that. Everything the World Bank is currently doing is to prepare the ground for investors and other financially powerful people in this world. Until the beginning of the new millennium, sparked by large-scale protests in the 1980s, there were small but steady improvements in the bank's standards of protection for the environment and human rights. After that, things completely turned around and the bank started to water down its standards. Much of its money now flows through the private sector, i.e., funds or banks. As a result, most people no longer even know that the World Bank is behind harmful projects.