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    2024 World Bank and IMF Spring Meetings: A Crucial Moment for Economic Decolonization and Climate Action

    Published April 10, 2024

    By Aubrey Manahan, Campaigner, and Lani Furbank, Communications Campaign Specialist

    As the World Bank Group (WBG) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) prepare to convene their 2024 Spring Meetings from April 15 to 20 in Washington, DC, the growing call to decolonize economic and financial institutions as a fundamental part of the just transition is louder than ever.

    While these meetings typically address major financial events and trends impacting the institution, its borrower countries, private sector clients, and partner investors, this year, numerous sessions will focus on how these institutions should address the climate crisis, and what a just energy transition entails for the global population. 

    This annual event is a combination of official closed-door meetings among World Bank and IMF leadership, public seminars on global economic development, and high-level events featuring prominent officials. The Civil Society Policy Forum (CSPF) held during the meetings is one of the most critical opportunities to influence the institutions, as it allows civil society organizations (CSOs) and communities affected by development projects to engage directly with bank staff and officials.

    As the World Bank marks its 80th anniversary, the message from project-affected communities worldwide is clear: The institution has a responsibility to comply with all environmental and social safeguards and involve community stakeholders in order to truly address the climate crisis, contribute to a just energy transition, and uphold its mandate to “do no harm” by ensuring effective, participatory, and fully funded remedy. 

    Here’s what we’ll be advocating for throughout the week:

    Ensuring Accountability and Remedy Before the Bank Exits

    The World Bank’s private sector arm, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), is currently developing principles to guide the institution on how to responsibly withdraw from its investments when needed. However, this discussion has failed to consider what should happen when the IFC exits a project that is currently undergoing investigation at its accountability mechanism, the Compliance Advisory Ombudsman (CAO). The Bank’s responsible exit principles must take these cases into account in order to guarantee that accountability processes can be carried out properly, even after the IFC divests. 

    During the CSPF, CIEL and partners are convening a panel of experts, community leaders, and Bank staff to discuss key lessons from the CAO’s recent analysis on responsible exit and current case studies as the Bank implements its draft principles.

    Moderated by the director of CIEL’s People Land and Resources program, Carla García Zendejas, the event will feature:

    • Sadafi Lakhani, Specialist Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO), World Bank Group
    • Larissa Luy, Senior Environmental and Social Specialist, International Finance Corporation (IFC)
    • Aaron Pedrosa, Head of Legal Team, Philippine Movement for Climate Justice
    • Eang Vuthy, Executive Director, Equitable Cambodia
    • Margaux Day, Executive Director, Accountability Counsel

    Join us for this conversation on Thursday, April 18 from 3 to 4:30 p.m. ET at the World Bank Group “I” Building: I 2-220 (livestream will be made available here).

    Upholding Access Rights to Reduce Risk and Harm Resulting from Bank Financing 

    Ensuring access rights for project-affected communities is one of the most critical steps in carrying out a development project. This entails guaranteeing access to information, the ability to meaningfully participate in decision making, and access to justice. The World Bank itself has recognized that ample opportunity for public review of environmental impact assessments before approval is critical to managing risks and fulfilling its development mandate. However, the Bank is currently falling short of these requirements. 

    Together with partners, CIEL is bringing together frontline communities and civil society organizations to share evidence of how the Bank is failing to meet its obligations and to discuss the integral role that access rights play in reducing the risks and harms associated with Bank-financed projects.

    Moderated by CIEL campaigner Aubrey Manahan, the event will feature:

    • Jason Weiner, Executive Director & Legal Director, Bank Climate Advocates
    • Aaron Pedrosa, Head of Legal Team, Philippine Movement for Climate Justice
    • Gregory Berry, Policy Associate, Accountability Counsel
    • Susan Nada, Labor Rights Lawyer, MenaFem Movement for Economic, Development, and Ecological Justice
    • Representative from the IFC (TBC)

    Join us for this conversation on Friday, April 19 from 4:30 to 6 p.m. ET at the World Bank Group “I” Building: I 2-220 (livestream will be made available here).

    The World Bank and other development finance institutions (DFIs) can play a crucial role in charting a different path for global and regional development plans and policies, especially as the world considers how to confront the climate crisis and navigate the energy transition. In light of the urgent need for decarbonization, the Bank must ensure that its efforts to promote the energy transition do not replicate past harms to communities and the environment. 

    CIEL and partners are organizing a conversation focused on how the Bank can center human rights, safeguard biodiversity, and minimize the risks and impacts of its investments to accelerate a just transition in Latin America and beyond.

    Moderated by Bank Information Center’s Carolina Juaneda, the event will feature:

    • Leandro Gomez, Coordinator of Investment and Human Rights Program, FARN
    • Maia Seeger, Executive Director, Sustentarse
    • Michael Krake, Executive Director for Germany, World Bank Group (TBC)
    • IFC Staff Member (TBC)

    Join us for this conversation on Friday, April 19 from 4:30 to 6 p.m. at the World Bank Group “I” Building: I 2-250 (livestream will be made available here).

    Flyer for an event titled "Energizing Change"

    Taking to the Streets to Hold the Bank Accountable

    While CIEL is advocating for accountability and justice within the formal spaces of the Spring Meetings, we are also taking to the streets with a broad movement of civil society and communities from around the world to ensure our collective message is heard by Bank leadership. At the Rally and March: For People and Planet, we are coming together to say again that it’s time to put people and planet first and decolonize and decarbonize our global economy. 

    Join us for the rally and march on Friday, April 19 at 12 p.m. ET at Edward R. Murrow Park.

    To keep up with all the events during the Spring Meetings and CSPF, follow CIEL on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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