|CLIMATE CHANGE: World Bank Under Fire for Role in New Global Green Fund|
|Written by Marwaan Macan-Markar|
|Friday, 08 April 2011 11:32|
"In spite of the climate and economic crises, the World Bank continues
to finance fossil fuel projects at an alarming rate, promote false
solutions to the climate crisis, and use funding instruments that
increase indebtedness of developing countries," charged a coalition of
nearly 100 local and international civil society organisations in a
letter released here during on- going negotiations at the first of three
U.N. climate change conferences to be held in the lead up to the Durban
COP17 summit in late November.
"The World Bank is not suited to advise in the design of a fund that
must ensure fair and effective long-term financing based on the
principles of environmental integrity, equity, sustainable development
and democracy," noted the two-page letter, whose signatories included
global groups like Action Aid and International Rivers, regional groups
like the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance and local groups like the
Bolivian Climate Change Platform.
The letter was addressed to Patricia Espinosa, Mexico’s secretary of
foreign affairs, and to Christina Figueres, the head of the Bonn-based
climate change secretariat of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate
It was at last December’s UNFCCC summit in Cancun, Mexico that a
landmark blueprint emerged creating the GCF, which is aimed at financing
efforts to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) and to help
communities adapt to the havoc created by climate change in the
The Bank was named as the new fund’s interim trustee for the first three
years, until a more permanent financial architecture is built to steer
much needed assistance to the world’s poorer nations.
A report by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s climate financing
advisory group released on the eve of the Mexico climate change summit
estimated that 100 billion dollars a year is needed for climate change
initiatives in the developing world.
Other estimates point to a higher figure - upwards of 400 billion
dollars annually in the South - reveals the Jubilee South Asia-Pacific
Movement on Debt and Development (JSAPMDD), a regional network of
The GCF has been mandated to start forking out these new funds by 2020,
which, according to the UNFCCC, will take the form of grants or
But the Bank’s record of programmes under the guise of ‘development’ in
the poorer nations makes it the wrong choice to play a permanent role in
administering the GCF, says Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, convener of the Asian
Indigenous Women’s Network, a regional grassroots group based in Manila.
"They are not a trusted institution in the developing world."
"There is a fear among activists and some developing country governments
that the Bank will secure approval to run the day-to-day operations of
the GCF," Tauli-Corpuz told IPS. "That will result in more obstructions
for the poor and the vulnerable victims of climate change."
"Climate finance is part of the reparations for climate debt owed by
rich, industrialised countries to the peoples and countries of the
South," argues Ahmed Swapan of JSAPMDD. "The climate debt must be
collected, managed and disbursed by an institution that is democratic,
accountable, transparent and governed by a board with a majority coming
from [the] South."
Activists are concerned about a potential conflict-of-interest if the
Bank secures the role as the secretariat of the GCF, since the
Washington, D.C.- based multilateral financial institution will also
have a part as a co-financier and implementer of projects.
As troubling is the Bank’s record in existing climate change funds, such
as the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), which was established in
1991 to help developing countries adapt to the challenges of climate
change. "To get funds from the GEF, countries had to go through
implementing agencies like the United Nations Development Programme
(UNDP), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Bank,"
said Matthew Stilwell, policy adviser at the Institute for Governance
and Sustainable Development, a Geneva-based think tank. "They had to
jump through hoops, making it difficult to access funds."
Consequently, developing countries are "advocating for more direct
access to the funds" of the GCF, Stilwell told IPS. "They have learnt
lessons from the past."
But in the rooms of the U.N. conference centre here, where climate
change negotiators from 190 countries are meeting from Apr. 3 - 8 to
shape a new global environmental deal, the sources of funding for the
GCF are also on the table.
"It will be new sources of funding," Jozsef Feiler, the chief climate
change negotiator for Hungary, currently the president of the council of
the European Union, told IPS.
Yet activists are not convinced, given suggestions by negotiators from
the developed world that funding would be from a combination of public
and private sector sources.
"Funding should be from public sources, new and additional to official
development assistance," says Michelle Maynard of the Pan African
Climate Justice Alliance. "The principles are simple: providing climate
finance is a legal and moral obligation for rich countries."
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