If the World Bank does not abandon its focus on “dirty” energy projects, governments should move global energy finance away from the organisation, according to a group of protesters at the its annual meeting.
Campaigners with the Power 4 People group said the Bank had been increasing support for mega-dams and gas projects under its president Jim Yong Kim. The organisation has also been accused of neglecting renewable energy and rural electrification.
Power 4 People is co-ordinated by International Rivers, Amazon Watch and Jeunes Volontaires pour l’Environnement, and supported by 60 organisations across 31 countries.
Peter Bosshard, policy director of International Rivers, said, “After development banks have spent hundreds of billions of dollars on dirty energy projects, 1.3 billion people remain without access to electricity.
“Decentralised renewable energy solutions are more effective at reducing energy poverty, protecting the environment and mitigating climate change.”
The group argues that mega-dams destroy ecosystems and impoverish the local population. It used the example of the “environmentally disastrous” Chad-Cameroon Pipeline Project. The project was detrimental to the population in the oil-producing region and the entire country, Power 4 People added.
Bernardino Morales, from the Ngobe indigenous group in Panama, said that large dams and fossil fuel projects destroy rivers and forests on which millions of people, including indigenous populations, depend for their livelihoods.
He said, “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.
“Energy projects must respect the rights of the people they are supposed to serve, and meet highest social, environmental and human rights standards.”
Earlier this month the World Bank was urged to divest from private water firms by a group that said they are compromising the poorest people’s access to clean drinking water.
Despite the negative press the World Bank announced plans to phase out investment in coal, suggesting the organisation is gradually moving towards becoming more sustainable.