Groups Protest World Bank Support for Destructive Dams and Fossil Fuels
Civil Society Alliance Demands Clean Local Power for the Poor
Amazon Watch, International Rivers
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | October 12, 2013
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Washington, DC – The World Bank should shift its energy lending away from dirty power plants toward clean local energy for the poor, a coalition of civil society organizations said today during a protest outside the Bank's annual meeting. The Power 4 People coalition – coordinated by International Rivers, Amazon Watch, and Jeunes Volontaires pour l'Environnement, and supported by 60 organizations from 31 countries – said it would urge governments to move global energy finance away from the World Bank if the multilateral institution did not abandon its focus on dirty energy projects. Under President Jim Kim, the World Bank has been increasing support for mega-dams and gas projects, while continuing to neglect renewable energy and rural electrification.
Peter Bosshard, Policy Director of International Rivers, introduced the Power 4 People campaign at the protest. "After development banks have spent hundreds of billions of dollars on dirty energy projects, 1.3 billion people remain without access to electricity," Bosshard said. "Decentralized renewable energy solutions are more effective at reducing energy poverty, protecting the environment and mitigating climate change."
Jamil Junejo, the Programs Manager for Pakistan Fisherfolks Forum, warned about the World Bank's plan to fund new mega-dams, including on the Indus and the Congo rivers. Mega-dams" Junejo said, "have destroyed ecosystems and impoverished millions of people. I see this with our fisherfolk communities in Pakistan, where hundreds of thousands of people have lost their livelihoods to mega-dams. Energy conservation and decentralized renewable energy sources are the best ways to bring power to the people."
Delphine Djiraibe, a Chadian human rights attorney who was awarded the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award, has closely followed the World Bank's socially and environmentally disastrous Chad-Cameroon Pipeline Project, where, she argued, the Bank's "model" private-public partnership further impoverished the population of the oil-producing region and the entire country. Djiraibe said that oil revenues were a factor in the nation's 2005-2010 armed conflict, calling them a "curse". She commented at the protest that "it appears that the Bank has learned little from its experience and is proposing to do still more massive projects where the risks are placed squarely on the most vulnerable populations."
Bernardino Morales from the Ngobe indigenous group in Panama recalled that large dams and fossil fuel projects destroy the rivers and forests on which millions of people, including indigenous peoples, depend for their livelihoods. "The construction of the Chan 75 Dam has caused severe destruction with our indigenous community in Panama, and the World Bank has refused responsibility for it" said Morales. "Energy projects must respect the rights of the people they are supposed to serve, and meet highest social, environmental and human rights standards."
The Power 4 People coalition calls on the World Bank and other development banks "to stop funding destructive forms of energy and shift support to energy conservation, energy efficiency and decentralized renewable energy solutions." Development banks need to create dedicated financing mechanisms, indicators and timetables to make such a transformation happen. As long as they continue to fund destructive forms of energy, governments should shift their funding to institutions and mechanisms that are more effective at ensuring universal access to modern energy services.
More information about the Power 4 People campaign is available here.