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The environmental & human rights impacts of bauxite mining in Guinea

Hassanatou Bah, left, and Aissatou Bah fetch water near Kagnèka, Guinea.
Propublica
Hassanatou Bah, left, and Aissatou Bah fetch water near Kagnèka, Guinea.

On this edition of Your Call’s One Planet series, we discuss a ProPublica investigation about a biodiversity offset project in Guinea funded by the World Bank Group that left a trail of hunger, displaced families, decimated ecosystems, and conditions ripe for infectious outbreaks.

The World Bank Group has backed such projects for decades; the International Finance Corporation, its arm that works with private companies, has funded at least 19 with biodiversity offsets.

The idea of compensating for ecosystem harm has existed since at least the 1960s, but biodiversity offsets became mainstream in the 1980s when the United States began regulating wetland destruction via the Clean Water Act. The rules said if you wanted to rip up 20 acres of wetlands for a shopping mall, you now had to preserve or restore at least 20 acres of wetlands elsewhere. Other nations created similar programs, and the concept took off.

Guests:

Lisa Song, investigative reporter with ProPublica

Jaime Yaya Barry, reporter with the New York Times

Web Resources:

ProPublicaOut of Balance

The Washington Post: On frontier of new ‘gold rush,’ quest for coveted EV metals yields misery

Human Rights Watch: Interview: Aluminum Is the Future for Electric Cars

Malihe Razazan is the senior producer of KALW's daily call-in program, Your Call.
Rose Aguilar has been the host of Your Call since 2006. She became a regular media roundtable guest in 2001. In 2019, the San Francisco Press Club named Your Call the best public affairs program. In 2017, The Nation named it the most valuable local radio show.