Stop funding projects that exacerbate climate change, human rights violations! – CSO to AfDB

the climate crisis

Civil society organisations are calling on the African Development Bank (AfDB) to stop funding projects that exacerbate the climate crisis and damage the environment, causing human rights violations.

According to the group, as the AfDB is one key financier of projects in countries, they ought to be circumspect and be guided.

They however suggested that: “AfDB protect natural resources, tackle environmental and climate crises, and also ensure a just energy transition, including an update of the Energy Sector Policy. It must ensure participatory processes in policies, programmes and projects, including ongoing reviews of the disclosure and access to Information Policy and Integrated Safeguards System.

“Also, it must prioritise community-led development and human rights-based approaches; raise the bar on access to information, transparency, and accountability, including the creation of a remedy fund to address negative impacts from projects; end inequality, poverty, and the cutback and privatisation of vital services; and protect African countries from the increasing debt crisis.”

The call was made on the sideline of the AfDB’s Annual Meeting in Accra which saw over 3000 delegates attend, with focus on the role the bank can play in achieving climate resilience in Africa.

The group of CSOs further questioned how communities most affected by climate change and civil society groups supporting them do not have a seat at the table to discuss such pressing developmental issues.

On this basis, 30 participants from 11 countries participated in the meeting of the CSOs to strategise ways to ensure that African communities are heard and respected by the AfDB’s in tackling pressing challenges in Africa.

“Transparency and participation are among the greatest shortcomings in AfDB’s governance, and the 2022 Annual Meetings unfortunately demonstrate the failure to prioritise engagement with civil society and communities. We are so concerned that there is no space for civil society in the official programme,” Aly Marie Sagne, Founder and Executive Director, Lumìere Synergie pour le Développement, Sénégal, said.

“We don’t understand why the AfDB put such a risky project in our community.” Fatou Samba, a representative from a community whose livelihoods and environment have been affected by the AfDB-financed Sendou Coal Power Project in Senegal, noted.

Many of the strategy session’s participants are members of the RightDevAfrica campaign, which urges the AfDB to endorse more open approaches in its operations and to effectively engage with and learn from the expertise of right-holders in Africa.

The AfDB funds hundreds of projects across the continent, and it is one of the key economic players in Africa. Through its direct and indirect financing, it supports projects and policies across a wide range of sectors, including agribusiness, energy and infrastructure.

Although the AfDB is supposed to serve the interests of African people, it lags behind its peer institutions in terms of transparent and participatory policies and implementation, and it is very difficult for civil societies, local communities, indigenous peoples, and all rights holders to hold the bank accountable at all stages of its operations.

This approach to development has led to negative impacts on communities from AfDB projects, including human rights, labour and environmental harm. Additionally, it has led to contradictory approaches to challenges like the climate crisis, whereby the AfDB is supporting needed adaptation and mitigation projects on the one hand, and funding climate-harmful fossil fuel projects on the other hand.

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