PDB Cartagena protests 2

When public development banks (PBDs), governments, private sector and civil society convened at the fourth Finance in Common Summit to discuss common actions for climate change and sustainable development, voices from affected communities and human rights issues were (again) lacking on the agenda. In an era of coexisting crises, finance from PDBs is more needed than ever, but more attention should be given to ensure that supported projects are just and inclusive.

Swedwatch has, together with hundreds of other civil society organisations (CSOs), at previous summits voiced concerns over lack of participation and the need to address community led project development and retaliation risks for human rights defenders protesting projects. Since the first summit in 2020 the event has opened up for civil society and at this year’s summit, taking place 4-6 September in Cartagena, Colombia, the number of CSO representatives in panels and seminars had improved.

“Opening up for civil society is a step in the right direction, but voices from communities affected by development projects deserve more space and human rights need to be at the core of these discussions. Very few sessions even mentioned human rights risks of development projects except those organized by civil society”, said Malena Wåhlin, coordinating Swedwatch’s work on human rights and environmental defenders and civic space issues. 

As highlighted in a recent report by the Coalition for Human Rights in Development, people protesting development projects often face reprisals and so far the steps by development finance insitutions to address these risks have been insufficient. Communities living in areas with renewable energy projects are often affected in negative ways and also, renewables have shown to be one of the most dangerous areas for defenders to work in. 

One example of negative community impacts was given by the participant Mayalmit Lepcha, an indigenous leader from India fighting against the construction of dams which has led to community displacement and loss of livelihoods. 

“We have more than 30 mega dams in our area that have been built without respect for the rights of indigenous peoples. When it comes to climate change decision makers should listen to indigenous communities, we have a very close relationship to nature and we want development to come from the community itself.”

Swedwatch welcomes that several of the issues raised by civil society were later acknowledged by the Finance in Common summit Declaration signed by some of the PDBs, but calls for a shift of balance at the actual summit. As stated by participant John Nimly Brownell, an environmental defender from the Liberian organisation Green Advocates:

“Development banks have to move away from the top-down approach that they have, otherwise development will not be sustainable. I was expecting that they would listen to people affected by their decisions, but it is just the banks talking among themselves. There is no essence of inviting civil society if we can’t have input, it’s just a way of ticking the box.” 

FACTS: The Finance in Common Summit
The Finance in Common Summit (FiCS) is an initiative launched in France in 2020, bringing together more than 520 public development banks of all types (multinational, regional, national and sub-national) and from all regions, as well as regional networks, international organization, private sector representatives, academic, civil society organizations and local actors. FiCS aims to align the financial system with the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement.

I was expecting that they would listen to people affected by their decisions, but it is just the banks talking among themselves. There is no essence of inviting civil society if we can’t have input, it’s just a way of ticking the box.

protest Catragena klippt

Before the summit a civil society gathering was held to share experiences of development projects and a joint CSO Declaration signed by over 100 organizations, including Swedwatch, was published during the summit.Omslag FiCS

 

 

 

Press contact:
Malena (2)
Malena Wåhlin

+46 (0)70 755 92 90
malena@swedwatch.org