Green Structural Adjustment in the World Bank’s climate city

Dr Sophie Webber1

1University Of Sydney


Over the last decade the World Bank has struggled to reinvent itself as its relevance and impact wanes. During this period, the Bank’s lending has been proportionally dwarfed by other kinds of financial flows into the Global South, while the impacts of climate change exacerbates poverty and inequality thereby undoing previous development gains. In response, the Bank has reimagined its practices. It now devotes significant resources to facilitating private investment into public goods, such as infrastructure, intended to improve the lives and withstand the rigours of global warming in vulnerable cities of the Global South. However, rendering infrastructure investable requires policy, knowledge, financial, and governance transformations. The World Bank works across all these arenas to encourage and facilitate cities’ access to global capital markets. Here, we outline these new practices and situate them within longer histories of uneven development, neoliberal restructuring, and climatic change. Drawing on policy documents, reports, and interviews with key Bank staff, we demonstrate that a new era of structural adjustment is at hand. We call this catalogue of transformations the “Green Structural Adjustment”. We focus on how the conditions for building bankable infrastructure projects are accomplished through the Green Structural Adjustment and outline its preliminary effects.


Sophie is a Lecturer in Geography at the University of Sydney.

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