Banking on the Environment

From Global Environmental Accord: Strategies for Sustainability and Institutional Innovation

Banking on the Environment

Multilateral Development Banks and Their Environmental Performance in Central and Eastern Europe

By Tamar L. Gutner





Multilateral development banks (MDBs) are increasingly expected to address environmental issues in their economic development lending. Yet the banks have been accused of failing to implement their own environmental policies, thereby contributing to environmental degradation in borrowing countries. In this book Tamar Gutner analyzes the environmental policies of three MDBs: the World Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the European Investment Bank. She compares their performance in Central and Eastern Europe, where the need for economic and environmental reform has been particularly urgent, and where these MDBs are among the largest donors. Gutner finds many obstacles to efforts to "green" the three banks, most notably a mismatch between the environmental mandates and existing patterns of institutional design and incentives. The depth and scope of the banks' green activities reflect the degree of shareholder commitment to environmental issues and how demand-driven the MDB is designed to be. Surprisingly, the World Bank, the most scrutinized and criticized of the three MDBs, has been rather more responsive than its counterparts to its environmental mandate in the region. The discussion is framed by larger explorations of the behavior of international organizations and the sources of their innovation and inertia in addressing new policy issues. Gutner demonstrates the need to examine the impact of different stages of the policy process on new mandates and to incorporate both political and institutional variables when developing theories about the behavior of international institutions.


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262072359 281 pp. | 6 in x 9 in


$35.00 X ISBN: 9780262571593 281 pp. | 6 in x 9 in


  • This is a timely and sophisticated study of how three multilateral development banks have dealt with demands to incorporate a serious environmental agenda into their lending strategies for Central and Eastern Europe. Gutner shows how each institution's shareholder commitment to a green agenda interacts with the overall development strategies of that institution to affect is ability to implement successful environmental projects in recipient countries. This is an important study of some of the challenges international institutions face in responding to increasingly diverse demands from their expanding constituencies.

    Steven Weber

    Berkeley Roundtables on the International Economy, University of California, Berkeley

  • Why do multilateral development banks possessing broadly similar mandates and operating in the same region perform so differently in environmental terms? In a wide-ranging and insightful examination of this question, Tamar Gutner not only shows how shareholders pressure, design features, and recipient demand interact to influence bank behavior, but also sheds light on factors leading to inertia and innovation in international organizations more generally.

    Oran R. Young

    Director, Institute on International Environmental Governance, Dartmouth College

  • An accessible and enjoyable read. This study is empirically rich, based on extensive interview and documentary research.

    Paul Nelson

    Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, University of Pittsburgh

  • Gutner's careful comparative study increases our understanding of how to translate environmental commitments into effective environmental protection. Her book identifies the very different factors that affect the formulation of policy objectives, the institutionalization of supporting policy processes, and the attainment of desired policy outcomes.

    MJ Peterson

    Department of Political Science, University of Massachusetts, Amherst