Susan Park is an Associate Professor in International Relations at the University of Sydney. She focuses on how state and non-state actors use formal and informal influence to make the Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) greener and more accountable. She has published in numerous journals, most recently in the Review of International Political Economy. Her book The World Bank Group and Environmentalists: Changing International Organisation Identities was published in 2010 (Manchester). She co-edited with Antje Vetterlein, Owning Development (Cambridge, 2010) and with Jonathan Strand, Global Economic Governance and the Development Practices of the Other Multilateral Development Banks (Routledge, 2015,). Susan is an associate editor of the journal Global Environmental Politics and is co-convenor with Dr Teresa Kramarz (University of Toronto) of the Earth Systems Governance (ESG) Task Force ‘Accountability in Global Environmental Governance.’ Susan was the Chair of the Environmental Studies Section of the ISA from 2015 to 2017. She is a Senior Research Fellow of the ESG, an affiliated Faculty member of the Munk School’s Environmental Governance Lab at the University of Toronto, an External Associate of the Centre for the Study of Globalisation and Regionalisation at Warwick University, and a research affiliate of the Sydney Environment Institute at the University of Sydney.
International Law & Organization
Multilateral Development Banks
Global Environmental Governance
In 1993, the World Bank created its Inspection Panel, unprecedently opening itself up to being held to account by people negatively affected by its development projects. Within a decade, the other Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) – the Asian, African, Inter-American Development Banks, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the rest of the World Bank Group would too. The creation of these accountability mechanisms embodies a norm of ‘accountability as justice’ that provides recourse for damaging behaviour through a formal sanctioning process. This article makes two arguments: first, the United States built on its history of using ‘accountability as control’ to advocate using accountability for justice for the MDBs during debates over maintaining their efficiency and effectiveness. As the predominant MDB shareholder, the United States used its power (of the purse) and influence (through its voice and vote) to garner support for the norm despite opposition from borrowers and the Banks. Second, the United States had to resort to these same levers to demand the MDBs reformulate the mechanisms when borrower resistance and Bank avoidance hindered their effectiveness. The United States successfully created the norm but Bank recalcitrance meant the United States had to use the same levers to ensure its effectiveness. The article concludes that change within the Banks is evident but incremental: the spread of the norm amongst the MDBs has changed their governance to include recourse for project affected people with structures in place to strengthen them over time.
Global environmental governance (GEG) is characterized by fragmentation, duplication, dispersed authority, and weak regulations. The gap between the need for action and existing responses has led to demands for accountability. This has created a paradox: accountability mechanisms to improve GEG have proliferated while the environment deteriorates. We offer a two-tier explanation for this paradox. First, actors establishing GEG are not held to account for the design of their environmental interventions. Biases in public, private, voluntary, and hybrid institutions, which shape goals and determine what to account for and to whom, remain unexamined. Second, efforts to establish accountability focus on functional requirements like monitoring and compliance, leading accountability to be viewed as an end in itself. Thus, complying with accountability may not mitigate negative environmental impacts. The utility of accountability hinges on improving governance at both tiers. Turning the accountability lens to the goals of those designing environmental institutions can overcome the focus of justifying institutions over environmental problems.
"The New BRICS Bank