Climate debt news
Cancun side event acts as PR stunt for multilateral bank interests
Julian Oram, used to be head of policy and campaigns
Apart from the strong-arm tactics being deployed by rich countries in the formal negotiations, another form of maneuvering is taking place in side events against developing countries here in Cancun.
A side event on Monday afternoon was particularly revealing. Lined up on the panel were seven representatives from the Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs), nominally reflecting on the ‘lessons learnt’ from their involvement to date in climate finance. Sadly, the event was more one of public relations than of honest evaluation.
Much was made of how these institutions were uniquely positioned to mobilize and coordinate new sources of climate finance; and how they have already massively expanded their portfolio in this area. But there was no assessment of their track record of debt-creation, dirty development, and economic policy conditionalities that harm the poor.
Nor was there any reflection on the appropriateness of forcing the world’s poorest nations to pay twice for a problem they did little to create by taking on new loans for climate adaptation. And there was no discussion about the lack of democratic accountability implicit in the channeling of climate finance through donor-controlled agencies. The UN Adaptation Fund wasn’t mentioned once.
The implicit ‘lesson’ at this event is that the MDBs are the best channels for climate finance. But a more honest review of their role to date would lead to the opposite conclusion; that the track record of the MDBs suggests they are, and would continue to be, deeply inequitable and undemocratic channels of future climate finance.
As the saying goes; “ don’t believe the hype”, especially here in Cancun.