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Shih, Wen-Chen (1999) Changing Roles in a Changing Climate: The Bretton Woods Institutions and the Promotion of Sustainable Development. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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Through structural adjustment programmes (SAPs), the Bretton Woods Institutions (BWIs) have been promoting a particular model of development in developing countries. However, the traditional model of "economic" development advocated by the BWIs has been criticised for contributing to environmental degradation generally and to increases in greenhouse gas emissions linked to climate change. A variety of legal instruments and other mechanisms have been developed that seek to reverse this trend. The Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC) was adopted in 1992 and innovative mechanisms designed to help implementing the Convention such as the Global Environment Facility (GEF) have been established in the World Bank. The purpose of the thesis is to evaluate whether the legal and quasi-legal instruments employed by the BWIs in promoting structural adjustment may serve as effective tools in assisting to implement the FCCC in developing countries. The effectiveness of these legal and quasi-legal instruments, including conditionality and policy-based lending, is examined in the context of the leverage of the BWIs in influencing developing countries. This thesis posits that the governance structure of the BWIs, perceived as asymmetrical by developing countries, has affected the relationship between the BWIs and developing countries and might have undermined the effectiveness of these instruments in promoting structural adjustment. This thesis shows that GEF has begun to employ instruments similar to SAPs such as conditionality and policy-based lending, but in combination with innovative features such as novel decision-making rules and closer links with multilaterally negotiated environmental agreements such as the FCCC. The present study, thus, proposes that these legal and quasi-legal instruments identified in the GEF might be more effective because of the innovative features of the GEF that help to improve the relationship between the World Bank and the developing countries. The interaction between treaty obligations of the FCCC and regular operations of the BWIs is further explored, and suggestions for reforming the SAPs and in further developing the innovative mechanisms of the World Bank are offered. The arguments presented in the thesis are illustrated through a case study comprising four developing countries of Southeast Asia (Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippine, and Thailand). By evaluating whether the experiences of the BWIs in promoting "economic" development can provide valuable insights into how they might promote "sustainable" development through assisting the implementation of the FCCC in developing countries, the thesis hopes to contribute to the evolving field of study on the interface between international financial institutions and international environmental law.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2020 17:20

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