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Campaigners accuse EU of ‘stifling citizens’ voices on secret deal’ 

The European Commission has today rejected a proposal from an alliance of European campaigners to hold a ‘European Citizens' Initiative’ against the EU-US and EU-Canada trade deals (known as TTIP and CETA). This decision prevents citizens from forcing the Commission to review its policy on the deals and to hold a hearing in the European parliament.

A protest against TTIP passes the British Houses of Parliament

Negotiations on TTIP and CETA deal have provoked strong opposition across Europe, the US and Canada. Campaigners fear these treaties will give unprecedented power to multinational corporations, risking privatisation of public services and dilution of environmental standards and workers’ rights. To express this...

Campaigners urge British government to amend ‘secret agreement’ that would allow Canadian companies new powers over government decisions

The World Development Movement and War on Want have branded a trade deal being negotiated between Canada and the EU as ‘a threat to democracy’. We have joined trade unions and other campaigners to call on business secretary Vince Cable to remove a controversial clause from the deal which will give Canadian companies new powers to sue the British government.

Corporate robot dancers protest against global trade deals in Edinburgh. Photo: Ric Lander

Canadian and EU negotiators are due to meet in Brussels on Friday 12 September to agree the final text of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). Once it is agreed, neither European nor British parliaments will have any power to amend the text. 

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Campaigners warned today that Britain would open the floodgates to a string of legal challenges by big business if it ratified the upcoming EU-US trade deal.

As Philip Morris threatens to sue the UK for £11 billion over plans to introduce plain packaging on cigarettes, the World Development Movement said the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) would make such cases more common and less open to public scrutiny.

Photo: Matthias Weinberger/Flickr

The World Development Movement claimed today that if TTIP, currently being negotiated between the EU and the US, is agreed there could be a massive increase in legal cases brought by companies against the UK government.

The TTIP deal contains provisions to establish an ‘Investor-State Dispute Mechanism’ (ISDS) to allow multinational companies to sue governments over decisions they think might harm their profits. Under special ISDS courts, companies would be able to bypass national courts, settling cases in a system run by corporate lawyers, regardless of whether the decisions under dispute are made in the public interest.

Philip Morris is currently...

Coca-Cola has announced it will join a scheme, financed by the UK, US and other governments, which claims it will lift 50 million people in Africa out of poverty, but which critics including the World Development Movement say puts profit before poverty reduction.

Coca-Cola is the highest profile company to join the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, which also includes British companies Unilever, Diageo and SABMiller. The UK government has committed £600 million in aid money to the scheme, launched in 2012.


Photo: Francesco Desideri/flickr

The US government released figures yesterday on the progress of the New Alliance, but reported no data on the scheme’s direct impact on food security or nutrition in the African countries involved.

According to the US government, only 65 of the 277 companies participating in the New Alliance have reported on the social impact of their involvement in the scheme, including job creation. Its report claims that 3 million smallholder farmers in Africa have been ‘reached’ through the scheme, but does not give further detail. Only 21 per cent of smallholder farmers ‘reached’ are women.

The New...

Campaigners claimed today that David Cameron was trying to ‘face two ways at once’ with his promise that the government would buy more British food on the one hand, and his support of an EU-US free trade deal on the other.

Scottish asparagus. The TTIP deal would obstruct the government from buying British food.

The World Development Movement claims that the plan which David Cameron announced on Monday for all central government departments to buy fresh and locally-sourced, seasonal food is at odds with his promotion of a free trade deal between the EU and US – the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

In negotiations on the deal the EU, backed by Cameron, is pushing the US to abandon schemes which currently allow government departments to prioritise American products. The EU wants to force open procurement practices to tougher international competition – something campaigners fear will water down quality standards on a range of products.

If US negotiators get their way, the deal would also mean that many US products including chlorine-washed chicken and hormone-injected beef and pork...

Opposition to the EU-US trade deal gathered momentum this week, as negotiators meeting in Brussels appeared to make little progress in their negotiations.

Protests against the EU-US trade deal were held across the UK on 12 July.

Campaign groups and trade unions announced plans for Europe-wide protests on 11 October against the deal, known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Campaigners also launched a ‘Citizens’ Initiative’ petition to the European Commission with the aim of gathering one million signatures against the deal.

150,000 people responded to a European Commission consultation that closed on 13 July on one of the most controversial parts of the TTIP deal, the ‘Investor State Dispute Settlement’ mechanism (ISDS). The response is believe to be the biggest ever to such a consultation. The ISDS would allow multinational companies to sue governments over decisions they believed might affect their profits. The EU has said it will suggest a way forward on this aspect of TTIP in November.

Protestors from Spain, Belgium and Germany were forcibly evicted from a ‘civil society consultation’ yesterday after interrupting a meeting with chief EU and...

Protests are planned in Edinburgh and Glasgow on Saturday 12 July against the trade deal currently being negotiated between the EU and the US.

David Cameron is pushing hard for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which critics have described as a ‘corporate power-grab’ that will threaten Scotland’s democracy. Negotiators will meet in Brussels starting on Tuesday 15 July in an attempt to reach an agreement on the most contentious proposals in the deal.

Edinburgh protest

Where: Outside the National Gallery, in the square at the bottom of the Mound

When: 2.30pm, Saturday 12 July

What: Protestors will hold a corporate robot flashmob, with dancing silver robots representing big businesses and the countries involved in the deal.

Glasgow protest

Where: Outside Hillhead Library, Byres Road, G12 8AP

When: 11.15am, Saturday 12 July

What: Protestors will stage a ‘corporate puppet show’ with public service puppets controlled by corporate bullies, to highlight the threat...

Protests are planned in more than 15 towns and cities across the UK on Saturday 12 July against the trade deal currently being negotiated between the EU and the US. 

David Cameron is pushing hard for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which critics have described as a ‘corporate power-grab’. Negotiators will meet in Brussels on Tuesday 15 July in an attempt to reach an agreement on the most contentious proposals in the deal.

London protest

Where: Protest departs from Department for Business, Energy and Skills, 1 Victoria St, SW1H 0ET, for an undisclosed location

When: 12 noon, Saturday 12 July

Several hundred people are expected to join the London demonstration. Protestors will stage a ‘corporate puppet show’ with puppeteers on stilts representing big business and ‘puppets’ dressed as nurses to highlight the threat the deal poses to public services like the NHS. They will also play a ‘People v. Big Business’ football match with the odds stacked in favour of the business team.

Edinburgh city centre will see a corporate robot flashmob, while Brighton protestors will...

Protestors will target RBS at its AGM in Edinburgh on Wednesday, demanding that the bank pull its money out of coal. 

An 'oily banker' highlights RBS's investments in dirty fossil fuels.

Protestors dressed as bankers will hand out lumps of coal disguised as luxury chocolates – fossil rochers – while others will hold placards reading ‘RBS out of coal’.

RBS invests more in coal mining worldwide than any other UK bank, providing the industry with more than £4 billion since 2005. It ranks eighth of all banks globally for its financing of coal.

Coal has a major impact on climate change, releasing more greenhouse gases per tonne than any other fuel. Coal also devastates local environments, destroying the lives of people living in areas where it is mined.

The prospect of constitutional change following the Scottish independence referendum in September, whatever the outcome, has led to calls for reform of the banking sector in Scotland. Campaigners believe RBS ending its financing of coal would be a crucial part of this.

World Development Movement Scotland campaigner Liz Murray said today:

...

A website launched today aims to help football fans decide which team to cheer for in the Brazil 2014 World Cup, based on countries’ impact on climate change, military spending, and efforts to tackle poverty and inequality.

The site ‘Who should I cheer for?’ (whoshouldicheerfor.com), launched by the World Development Movement, compares the 32 countries competing in Brazil 2014  in terms of human development score, spending on armaments and military personnel, numbers of women in government, carbon dioxide emissions and financial secrecy.

The site ranks Costa Rica, which has zero military spending and 39 per cent women in government, as top of the table overall, followed by Spain, Mexico and Argentina. Iran, with only 3 per cent women in government, ranks bottom. England ranks number 20, while the USA, at number 29, comes close to bottom due to its high carbon emissions and heavy spending on weapons.

The site will also feature a daily comparison of teams competing in each 2014 World Cup match. England’s first opponent, Italy, ranks at number 8, with lower military expenditure than England, more women in government, better...

Protests will be held across the UK on 12 July against the EU-US trade deal, trade unions and campaign groups announced today. The protests will take place ahead of the next round of talks on the deal, scheduled to begin in Brussels on 14 July.

The announcement comes as Vince Cable, the US ambassador to the EU, the chief EU trade negotiator and other government and business figures meet at Chatham House in London today to discuss the future of global trade.

Protests against the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) are planned in London, Cambridge, Manchester, York, Newcastle, Nottingham, Edinburgh and Glasgow. Campaigners want the EU to abandon the deal, which they say threatens democracy, the environment, and public services including the NHS.

Twelve of the 73 UK MEPs elected last month have pledged to work for a full-scale re-think of the EU’s trade and investment policy, and for trade rules that ‘serve people...

Protestors from the World Development Movement will tell HSBC to pull out of coal at its AGM on Friday 23 May, accusing the bank of fuelling climate change and ruining the lives of people living with the effects of coal mining worldwide.

Coal-gobbling ‘bankers’ will be strewn over an HSBC logo, joined by protestors holding placards reading, ‘HSBC out of coal’.

Date: Friday 23 May

Time: 10am

Place: Barbican Centre, Silk Street entrance, London EC2

World Development Movement Santas delivered a tonne of coal to 'naught bank' HSBC last Christmas.

HSBC has provided the global coal mining industry with £2.1 billion since 2005. It finances more fossil fuel extraction overall than any other UK bank.

HSBC finances coal mining by companies including Anglo American, Glencore-Xstrata and BHP Billiton, the companies behind the Cerrejón mine in Colombia. Cerrejón is South America’s biggest coal mine, and has wiped whole villages from the map. It is fiercely opposed by the local Wayúu indigenous people whose land it has destroyed.

Yasmin Romero Epiayu, a Wayúu woman from the area of Colombia affected by the mine, said:

We suffer from the coal dust...

On the eve of the EU elections, 120 campaign groups from across Europe have rejected the trade negotiations between the EU and the US as a threat to democracy, and have called on negotiators to radically rewrite the proposed agreement.

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is set to affect food safety, digital rights, social and labour standards and environmental protection. The campaign groups believe the deal is being negotiated in the interests of big corporations, at the expense of citizens and the environment. 

In a statement released today, the groups have demanded that the proposed ‘investor state dispute settlement’, which would allow foreign corporations to sue member state governments and the EU, is dropped from the agreement. They also want negotiators to abandon proposals for a ‘regulatory cooperation council’, which would give companies and unelected officials power to determine regulation. They claim the deal as it stands would slash social, environmental and labour standards, and have criticised the...

The UN’s new Green Climate Fund could be used to finance dirty energy including coal and shale gas. The Green Climate Fund’s board, which includes the UK government, meets from 18-21 May in Songdo, Korea, and is expected to agree details of what the fund will finance.

The Green Climate Fund was set up to help poor countries deal with climate change and develop using clean energy. But campaigners fear that unless this week’s meeting explicitly excludes fossil fuels, the fund will be used to subsidise the coal, oil and gas industries that are driving climate change. 

Coal-fired power stations could receive finance from the Green Climate Fund.

There are fears the board could bow to pressure from industry lobbyists and allow the Green Climate Fund to finance coal-fired power stations, as long as they are equipped with carbon capture and storage technology. The effectiveness of this technology is unproven. There are also fears that the fund could support shale gas from...

Protestors will target the Lloyds Bank AGM in Edinburgh on Thursday 15 May, accusing it of destroying people’s lives and fuelling climate change by bankrolling the global coal industry.

Protestors from the World Development Movement will hold placards reading ‘Lloyds: Stop Bankrolling Coal’ and will play on Lloyds’ marketing with a banner reading ‘Because Climate Change Matters’.

Lloyds has invested a total of £3.4 billion since 2009 in mining giants BHP Billiton, Anglo American and Glencore Xstrata, the companies behind the massive Cerrejón mine in Colombia. Cerrejón is the biggest coal mine in South America and is fiercely opposed by local people, including the indigenous Wayúu whose territory it has destroyed.

BHP Billiton, which alone has received £2.1 billion from Lloyds since 2009, plans to open coal mines across a vast area of the Indonesian rainforest.

World Development Movement climate and energy campaigner Alex Scrivener said today:

The coal industry is destroying lives and livelihoods on every continent with the help of Lloyds and the other coal-addicted big banks. For the sake of the people suffering from coal mining, and...

Global justice campaigners have called on Unilever to pull out of an aid scheme they say will damage African countries’ ability to tackle poverty.

Unilever, which holds its AGM in London on Wednesday 14 May, is a leading member of the G8’s ‘New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition’. The scheme claims it will lift 50 million people in Africa out of poverty by 2022. But the World Development Movement believes the New Alliance will increase hunger and poverty by taking land and power away from millions of small-scale farmers.

Marmite is one of Unilever's flagship products.

African countries involved in the New Alliance are required to change their laws to make it easier for big corporations to buy up land, a move which campaigners believe will increase land-grabbing and leave farmers homeless and without livelihoods. The scheme will also help companies to control the supply of seeds used by African farmers, and increase production of export crops like biofuels at the expense of crops to feed local populations.

Farmers’ groups from across Africa have condemned the New Alliance as ‘a new wave of colonialism...

Campaigners from the World Development Movement will protest at Barclays’ AGM on Thursday 24 April, accusing the bank of fuelling climate change and destroying people’s lives and the environment by financing the global coal industry.

Where: Entrance to the Barclays AGM, Royal Festival Hall, South Bank, London SE1 8XX

When: 10.30-11.30am, Thursday 24 April

Two suited, blue masked Barclays ‘eagles’ on Barclays bikes, carrying coal in their bike baskets, will join protestors holding placards reading, ‘Barclays: Stop bankrolling coal’.

Barclays has provided the global coal mining industry with £3.1 billion since 2005. Coal burning releases more greenhouse gases per tonne than any other fossil fuel, driving climate change which disproportionately affects the world’s poorest people.

Barclays has loaned £127 million to Bumi Resources for coal mining in Indonesia. Photo: Andrew Taylor/WDM

In Indonesia, Barclays has loaned £127 million to mining company Bumi Resources, responsible for evicting indigenous people in Indonesian Borneo from their land. Since 2009...

£600 million in UK aid money is going to a scheme to help big businesses increase their profits in Africa, a report by the World Development Movement reveals today. The report slams the scheme as fuelling a ‘corporate scramble for Africa’.

The UK government is channelling £600 million in aid to the G8-sponsored ‘New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition’, claiming it will lift 50 million people out of poverty by 2022. But campaigners say the scheme is set to benefit multinational companies like Monsanto and Unilever at the expense of millions of small-scale farmers, and is likely to increase poverty and inequality on the continent.

Campaigners believe the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition will disempower small-scale farmers. Photo: malias/Flickr

In return for receiving aid money and corporate investment through the New Alliance, the African countries involved have to change their laws, making it easier for corporations to acquire large tracts of farmland, control the supply of seeds, and ship...

The economic case for the EU-US trade deal is ‘deeply flawed’, leading researchers on the deal have said as negotiations begin in Brussels today.

Prime Minister David Cameron has claimed that the deal, known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) would bring £99 billion a year to the EU, giving an average family of four in the UK an extra £454 per year.

But researchers Dr Gabriel Siles-Brügge from the University of Manchester and Dr Ferdi De Ville from Ghent University in Belgium say the analysis on which the claims are based is misleading.

"An impartial reading of these key documents relating to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) shows quite clearly that these huge figures are vastly overblown and deeply flawed," says Dr Siles-Brügge.

"It’s an overly optimistic view coloured by the political imperatives of the likes of the European Commission and certain member state governments."

The researchers argue that while the figures David Cameron has used assume that regulation will be standardised between the EU and the US across wide-ranging areas of economic activity, this is extremely unlikely due to vastly different and entrenched regulation on either side of the Atlantic.

The Prime Minister has...

Trade unions and campaign groups have written to Vince Cable calling for a halt to negotiations on the EU-US trade deal, as talks begin in Brussels today.

The groups, including the UK’s second biggest trade union UNISON, environmental, social justice and anti-poverty organisations, believe the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) will undermine democracy, threaten public services and lead to lower standards in a range of areas including environmental protection, workers’ rights and food safety.

The letter to the Business Secretary uses recent research to show that the trade deal is unlikely to significantly boost employment, and points to the European Commission’s own work which suggests it will cause “prolonged and substantial dislocation of EU workers as a direct result of TTIP which will simply entrench European inequality.”

Signatories to the letter claim that TTIP will essentially be an ‘investor protection’ treaty, giving private companies more power over public services, government procurement and a raft of social and environmental standards. This protection will be enshrined in a...

MPs must open the talks to public scrutiny

Social justice campaigners have called on MPs to stop the controversial EU-US trade talks, as European and American trade representatives meet in Washington this week. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) will become the biggest deal of its type in the world if agreed. But campaigners argue that far from boosting jobs in Europe and the US, the agreement will give big business a whole range of new powers with potential to harm people and planet.

EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht and US trade representative Michael Froman have been engaged in a ‘stocktaking’ exercise aimed at clearing blockages in the talks this week. But there is growing opposition to the agreement in both the EU and US from trade unions, environmental groups and anti-poverty campaigners.

Social justice group World Development Movement today called on MPs to thoroughly scrutinise the deal and push for a halt in the negotiations. The campaign group believes the deal’s proposed ‘investor-state dispute mechanism’ will detract from the ability of MPs to regulate corporations and will put the UK at risk of being sued for...

Welcoming the announcement of the European Commission that it has paused negotiations on the investor-state dispute settlement mechanism of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) while public consultation takes place, anti-poverty group World Development Movement called for a halt to the entire negotiating process today.

The group claimed that the negotiations are not about trade relations, but are about agreeing a ‘charter for corporate rights’ which will affect European society from the provision of health services to the power of banking.


The TTIP could be a threat to public services such as the NHS. Photo: 38 Degrees

The World Development Movement believes that so-called ‘investor courts’, or investor-state dispute settlement mechanisms, are anti-democratic, giving corporations additional legal powers to sue governments and change government policies. The campaign group is further concerned that the central element of the EU-US deal is about the downward standardisation of labour, consumer and environmental protection and the opening up of corporate ‘investment’ in services.

Nick Dearden, director of the World Development Movement, said...

The World Development Movement has criticised the UK’s role in the run up to the EU climate deal struck today as ‘shameful’.

The UK was successful in watering down a proposal to have a legally binding target of 30 per cent of all electricity generation coming from renewables by 2030. The target will now be 27 per cent, and there will be no binding targets for individual countries.

Longannet coal-fired power station, Fife. The UK government has succeeded in watering down EU renewables targets.

The World Development Movement’s policy officer, Alex Scrivener, said:

With millions already seeing increased drought and flooding, the UK has shamefully chosen to try to force the rest of the EU down to the lowest common denominator on renewables targets. The UK’s behaviour on the EU deal exposes all the rhetoric from the government about being a world leader on climate mitigation as hot air.

The proposed 30 per cent renewables target was already woefully inadequate in terms of emissions reduction. The UK’s success in reducing this target to 27 per cent and avoiding binding national targets could mean more fracking and may result in an emissions...

This week’s annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, in the luxury resort of Davos, Switzerland, has been slammed by anti-poverty group the World Development Movement today as “a strategy meeting for the 1%, whose decisions fuel inequality and poverty.”

The group added, “At a time when the poorest are being forced to suffer for the crimes of the very richest, it is incredible that the global financial and economic elite can meet in luxury and pretend they will solve the world’s problems.”

Nick Dearden, director of the World Development Movement, said today:

The Davos summit is the away day of capitalism, the strategic planning workshop of the ‘1%’. The very same financial and corporate giants that created the economic crisis will be in Davos, steering the global economy down a road that leads to an even more unequal world.

The focus of this summit is not on inequality or crisis, but on new opportunities for capital in new markets around the world. Although ordinary people are still reeling from the impact of a crisis they did not create, the global elite has walked away almost scar free. They are busy marking out new...

Limits to curb speculation on food prices agreed
UK blocks proposals for tougher regulation

EU negotiators last night agreed to introduce regulation to prevent speculation by banks and hedge funds driving up food prices and exacerbating the global hunger crisis. The new controls will place a limit on the number of food contracts that banks and other finance companies can hold, and will force traders to open their activity to greater public scrutiny.

Anti-poverty campaign group the World Development Movement has hailed the decision as an historic step forward, but said that the UK government’s opposition to tough controls has resulted in serious loopholes in the regulation. In particular, limits will be set at national rather than EU level, which campaigners say risks a regulatory ‘race to the bottom’ as countries could compete to set  weaker limits.

The group is urging the European regulator ESMA to ensure that the new rules are implemented effectively, and not watered down further by industry lobbying.

Goldman Sachs, Barclays, Deutsche Bank, JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley together made an estimated £2.2 billion from speculating on food including wheat,...

Twenty Santas delivered a tonne of coal on a dumper truck to ‘the world’s naughty bank’ HSBC at Moorgate in the City of London this morning to highlight the bank’s massive financing of fossil fuels and to call on it to pull out of coal, the fuel most damaging to the global climate.

Protestors from the World Development Movement, dressed as Santa Claus, delivered Christmas stockings full of coal to HSBC, and sung festive songs including ‘Frosty the Banker’ and ‘Deck the Halls with Dirty Money’.

HSBC underwrote more fossil fuel bonds and shares between 2010 and 2012 than any other UK bank, helping fossil fuel companies raise £75 billion. The bank finances coal mining by companies including global mining giants Anglo American, Glencore-Xstrata and BHP Billiton. It also finances oil and gas extraction worldwide.

Nick Dearden, director of the World Development Movement, said today:

HSBC has been a very naughty bank this year, pouring billions into dirty fossil fuels, and ignoring the fact that if we want to avoid runaway climate change, we have to keep fossil fuels in the ground. So we thought a tonne of coal would be the best Christmas present we could give the bank. Maybe...

Negotiators could agree regulation tomorrow (12 December)

The UK Treasury and the finance sector have colluded in lobbying against European legislation which would prevent financial speculation driving up food prices, new research reveals today.

The World Development Movement has uncovered details of a series of meetings held by the then Financial Secretary to the Treasury Mark Hoban from 2010 onwards, urging finance companies to lobby against proposed regulation which includes provisions aimed at stopping speculation by banks and hedge funds pushing food beyond the reach of millions of people. The anti-poverty group has accused the government of whipping up opposition to the legislation, against the public interest.

The UK Treasury has lobbied against strong regulation to curb food speculation.

Mark Hoban and other Treasury ministers encouraged the City to coordinate lobbying efforts with the Treasury, and travelled to European capitals to persuade other governments to oppose tighter regulation of the commodity and other financial markets...

Campaigners say first WTO deal in 20 years is a deal for corporations, not the poor

The World Development Movement has condemned the deal currently being discussed by delegates to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Bali tonight as being “an agreement for transnational corporations not the world’s poor”. After hours of negotiation, the Director General of the WTO created a compromise deal which will go to WTO members for agreement in the coming hours.

Protests at the WTO in Bali this week. Photo: transnationalinstitute

Nick Dearden, director of the World Development Movement, said:

On the positive side, developing countries have forced concessions onto the pro-corporate agenda of the US and European Union. However, those concessions are only the minimum necessary to get through what remains a deal for corporations, not for the world’s poor.

Here in Bali, social movements, trade unions and campaign groups have supported the efforts of developing countries to get a deal which moves the agenda away from a pro-corporate charter and towards something that asserts the rights and needs of the majority of the world’s population. The...

Civil society supports G33 ‘right to food’ stance and condemns rich country tactics

Calls for least developed countries package to be passed immediately

Campaign groups from over 30 countries have condemned the tactics of the US and other rich countries at the WTO talks in Bali this week, accusing them of holding the summit to ransom by opposing a fairer deal on agriculture for developing countries.

Campaigners from India, Europe, the US and several African and Asian countries have come out in support of the G33 group of developing countries’ efforts to prioritise food security at the talks. Rich country negotiators have blamed the impasse at the summit on India, but the campaign groups have backed India’s insistence on protecting its right to subsidise grain farmers and to hold stocks of food in order to combat hunger.

Protests at the WTO talks in Bali this week.

The network of campaigners also pointed to the hypocrisy of rich countries in blocking proposal by Argentina for the reduction of rich country export subsidies.

They also criticised the position of WTO director general Roberto Azevedo yesterday in declaring that the ‘...

Protests were held outside the AGM of London-based mining company GCM Resources today over the company’s Phulbari coal mine in Bangladesh, which if it goes ahead will displace up to 220,000 people.

London-listed GCM Resources is currently under investigation by the UK government following a complaint by the World Development Movement and the International Accountability Project. The complaint claims the mine would breach OECD rules by violating the human rights of the people who would be forcibly displaced and impoverished by the project.

The Phulbari coal project has been on hold since 2006 due to intense local opposition. Three people were killed and many more injured when paramilitary officers opened fire on a protest against the mine in 2006.

The UK government’s investigation will evaluate whether GCM Resources has breached obligations to ensure meaningful and adequate consultation about the project, or to carry out appropriate due diligence to ensure that its project does not violate people's human rights.

 

The mine would violate the...

UK pension funds are betting an estimated £1.5 billion on food prices, meaning that around £180 belonging to the average UK pension saver is being used to speculate on global food prices, according to a report released today by the World Development Movement. The campaign group is calling for tough regulation to stop food speculation contributing to the global hunger crisis by driving prices up.

UK pension funds are betting an estimated £1.5 billion on food prices.

The report reveals how pension funds and other institutional investors have poured vast sums of money into the commodity markets in recent years, pushing global prices upwards and fuelling global hunger and poverty. Pension funds’ involvement in commodities has been facilitated by investment banks including Goldman Sachs and Barclays. Barclays announced in February this year that it was pulling out of food speculation, however it continues to facilitate speculation by investors such as pension funds.

The World Development Movement’s...

Rich countries undermine Indian and Latin American efforts to stand up for food rights

Protestors from over 50 countries will march through the streets of Denpasar in Bali, Indonesia tomorrow (3 December) as the first major World Trade Organisation (WTO) summit in 8 years begins. Campaigners will condemn attempts by rich country governments to prevent poorer countries like India and Bolivia pushing to be allowed to better protect their ability to feed their populations.

Rich countries are pushing to extend the WTO’s remit to ‘trade facilitation’ issues, which include cutting customs and other restrictions to trade at borders. But many developing countries are holding out against this agenda, which will be costly for them, focussing instead on their rights to protect their domestic agriculture and to control the price and availability of food. They also fear that a package to benefit Least Developed Countries, largely already agreed but not implemented, will be held up unless developing countries agree to the trade facilitation measures.

...

Following today’s announcement by UK energy and climate secretary Ed Davey that the UK will end public development finance for new coal-fired power plants overseas (except in rare circumstances), the World Development Movement has called on him to also push for an end to private financing of coal by the UK finance sector.

 

Speaking at the UN climate talks in Warsaw, Ed Davey said,

It is completely illogical for countries like the UK and the US to be decarbonising our own energy sectors while paying for coal-fired power plants to be built in other countries.

The World Development Movement’s head of campaigns and policy Hannah Griffiths said:

Ed Davey is right that the UK needs to end its financing of coal and we welcome this move. But until we can cure the private finance sector of its coal addiction, coal will carry on cooking the planet thanks to UK money. Ed Davey must not forget that the UK government should also act to stop UK private finance supporting coal - regulating the finance sector is our only hope of keeping the coal in the ground.

...

The World Development Movement has today launched a new interactive, online documentary exploring UK banks' financing of the Indonesian coal mining boom.

The documentary, Dirty Money, combines photography, video, graphics and voiceover to explain the devastating impact of coal mining on communities in Indonesia, and on the global climate. The anti-poverty campaign group has used online storytelling technology to create a documentary that allows audiences to navigate their own journey through the material, allowing people to explore as much or as little as they want.

Viewers can choose from a wide range of interview clips, with indigenous people whose homelands are being destroyed by coal mining, people in the mountains of Java running their own renewable energy projects, finance experts and campaigners.

The documentary uses new technology that has been little used in the UK. This is the first time a campaign group has incorporated a way for people to take action within a webdoc: viewers are asked to email the head of HSBC bank to urge him to end the bank’s...

Campaigners have slammed a conference taking place in Edinburgh this week for attempting to privatise nature by giving it a financial value.

The first ever World Forum on Natural Capital is to be held in Scotland’s capital on Thursday and Friday (21-22 November), with the keynote speech to be made by First Minister Alex Salmond. Corporations attending the conference, including RBS, Coca Cola, Rio Tinto and KPMG, will be attempting to put a value on nature so that they can include it in their balance sheets.

Some corporations and governments, including the UK, claim that if the natural world is given a financial value it is more likely to be protected. But campaigners from the World Development Movement, Counter Balance, Re:Common and Carbon Trade Watch believe this is the first step to creating financial markets in water, air, soil and forests, effectively privatising nature.

The conference is premised on the belief that financial markets can help protect...

UK banks lend more money for coal mining than banks from any other country except the USA, according to a new report released today. The report from campaign groups including BankTrack and the World Development Movement urges governments meeting for the UN climate talks in Warsaw to stem the flow of finance to coal, the single greatest source of CO2 emissions endangering the climate.

RBS is the eighth biggest coal financer in the world.

UK banks are the biggest European financers of coal, while four UK banks feature in the global top 20 lending money and underwriting bonds and shares for coal mining companies worldwide. RBS ranks at number eight in the world, Barclays number 12, HSBC number 15 and Standard Chartered number 18.  The three banks at top of the list are Citi, Morgan Stanley and Bank of America.

Banks from only three countries - the US, UK and China – collectively account for 57...

Five banks made an estimated total of £2.2 billion from speculating on food including wheat, maize and soy between 2010 and 2012, prompting campaigners to accuse the banks of fuelling a global hunger crisis.

Goldman Sachs is the leading global player in food speculation.

Goldman Sachs, Barclays, Deutsche Bank, JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley were the top five global investment banks involved in global commodity markets between 2010 and 2012, making an estimated £640 million ($1 billion) from speculating on food in 2012 alone. Financial speculation fuels price spikes, pushing food prices beyond the reach of millions of people.

The figures were released today by anti-poverty campaign group the World Development Movement, which is calling for tough controls to curb food speculation. Proposed new regulation is due to be discussed at the European Union on Wednesday (6 November), but is at risk of being watered down by objections from the UK government [link to today’s press...

A leaked document has revealed attempts by the UK government to scupper proposed controls on food speculation ahead of negotiations in Brussels next Wednesday.

New rules to prevent banks driving food prices up through financial speculation are due to be finalised in the European Union. But a memo sent by UK negotiators to their counterparts from other European countries last week reveals the UK government’s push to prevent major loopholes in the proposals being closed in the draft regulation.

The memo states UK negotiators’ opposition to strict limits on the amount that banks and other financial players can speculate in commodity derivative markets – a measure that campaigners see as essential to stop speculation destabilising food markets and fuelling global hunger. Instead UK negotiatiors are pushing for the continuation of a system of self-regulation under which speculators have been able to cause huge spikes in the price of foodstuffs.

The memo is likely to have been written by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the UK government body tasked with regulating the financial sector, and the FCA would certainly have reviewed it. Yet the changes it is calling for would constrict the FCA’s ability to...

Campaigners delivered a box of coal to HSBC’s Canary Wharf headquarters this morning, with a message calling on the bank to pull out of financing the global coal industry. 

The campaigners from the World Development Movement, wearing hardhats, set up a ‘climate crime scene’ outside the bank using hazard tape.

The UK’s biggest bank, HSBC is also the UK’s biggest underwriter of fossil fuel bonds and shares. Between 2010 and 2012, HSBC helped fossil fuel companies raise £75 billion, double the figures mustered by either Barclays or RBS. As well as oil and gas investments, the bank facilitates the coal mining industry through its support for companies including global mining giants Anglo American, Xstrata and BHP Billiton.

Indonesian activist Hendrik Siregar, campaigner against coal mining in Indonesian Borneo financed by banks including HSBC, joined the protest

The World Development Movement warns that coal investments are currently fuelling a ‘carbon bubble’ in which banks are investing in fossil fuel reserves which cannot be burnt without breaking international climate change...

HSBC shut its flagship branch in the City of London today in the face of protests against its investment in fossil fuels. HSBC is the UK’s largest underwriter of fossil fuels bonds and shares.

The protestors from the World Development Movement dressed as coal miners and cordoned off the area outside the bank using ‘climate crime scene’ hazard tape and eviction notices.

The protest took place to kick-start a global month of action against dirty energy. During the next four weeks there will be protests throughout the City of London and across the country targeting HSBC and other financial institutions for their financing of fossil fuels.

World Development Movement activist Kirsty Wright said:

We set up an extraction zone outside HSBC to bring the reality of what the banks are financing back to the City. By pouring billions of pounds worth of finance into fossil fuels each year, HSBC is destroying people’s homes, lives and the climate. For example, HSBC is financing companies mining coal in Indonesia, which are pushing people off their land and polluting their water. HSBC must stop this reckless investment.

The activists also attempted to...

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On the eve of Scotland’s international climate justice conference, campaigners have welcomed the Scottish government’s on-going commitment to climate justice, calling for further funds to help meet the country’s ‘climate debt’ to developing countries. But they have also warned the government to steer clear of corporate involvement in climate finance, claiming that thriving, democratic public sectors are the only means of tackling climate change in a just way.

Anti-poverty campaign groups the World Development Movement and Jubilee South have urged Alex Salmond to use Scotland’s Climate Justice Fund to ensure the country takes responsibility for its part in causing climate change.

Scotland will host representatives of governments, businesses and campaign groups from around the world tomorrow to discuss how to transition to a low carbon global economy in an equal and sustainable way. The Scottish government is one of just a few rich-country governments to recognise that rich countries, which are largely responsible for climate change, owe a ‘climate debt’ to poorer countries which have done little to cause it.

The Scottish government’s Climate Justice Fund was established last year to address Scotland’s climate debt by...

The top 5 UK banks (HSBC, Barclays, Standard Chartered, RBS and Lloyds) are complicit in fuelling climate change and destroying communities and the environment in the rainforests of Indonesian Borneo through their financing of an Indonesian coal boom, according to a new report released today

UK banks have lent more money for Indonesian coal than banks from any other country since 2009, while Standard Chartered, the UK’s second biggest bank, has lent more than any other bank in the world. 83 per cent of coal produced in Indonesia’s top coal province on the island of Borneo is mined by companies part-financed by UK banks [1].

The report by the World Development Movement follows the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s landmark assessment of the state of the world’s climate, and comes on the first day of new rules requiring all UK companies to make their carbon emissions public [2]. Campaigners say the UK rules will let banks off the hook by failing to include emissions...

A guided walking tour around Edinburgh’s financial districts this autumn (26 September-26 October) will reveal the hidden story of UK banks, pension funds and hedge funds fuelling climate change by investing in fossil fuel companies and dirty energy projects around the world. The World Development Movement has created the tours to bring to life its new ‘Carbon Capital’ campaign which exposes the role of the finance sector in bankrolling climate change.

Guests will be taken on an eye-opening, educational tour beginning in the historical financial district around St. Andrew Square, and ending in the modern-day Exchange district. Throughout the tour participants will hear tales of pensions buried in tar sands and cowboy arctic drillers, woven with more inspiring tales of hardy activists throughout history, and modern day banks that are daring to do things differently. 

The tour will be interactive, with ‘carbon bubble-blowing’, a quiz, historical re-enactments and chalk drawing on pavements featuring as part of the two hour trip. 

World Development Movement campaigner Jane Herbstritt said:

“Edinburgh’s financial sector makes up 8% of the Scottish workforce, and manages around £750 billion in assets annually. Clearly such a powerful and...

Nick Dearden, former head of Jubilee Debt Campaign, starts today as director of the World Development Movement.

Photo: Genevieve Stevenson

At Jubilee Debt Campaign, Nick ran a successful campaign against ‘vulture funds’, resulting in a new law being passed in 2010. He developed global work on ‘illegitimate debt’ including leading a campaign to get Britain to audit its ‘Third World’ debt portfolio and transform the ‘export credit’ system. His appointment follows the departure of Deborah Doane, director of the World Development Movement since 2009.

Nick Dearden said today: 

I’m incredibly excited to be joining the World Development Movement because its work has never been more necessary. We have a financial system that is out of control, a global economy that fails to meet the needs of the many and a world sliding towards climate catastrophe.

These problems won't be solved by the old notions of 'charity' and 'aid'. Campaign groups must find ever better ways of bringing people together to challenge the financial takeover of...

New research has revealed that Royal Bank of Scotland’s 2012 carbon emissions could be up to 1,200 times higher than the figure reported by the bank, and 18 times the total emissions of Scotland.

The study by the World Development Movement estimates that emissions resulting from RBS’s loans to coal, oil and gas companies bring the bank’s 2012 carbon footprint to up to 911 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent. The much smaller figure of 735,000 tonnes reported by the bank includes only its direct use of fossil fuels and electricity, and business travel.

A campaigner poses as an oil-addicted banker outside RBS's AGM. Photo: Richard Scott

RBS made loans of over £45 billion to fossil fuel companies and energy finance companies between 2008 and 2012, making it one of the UK’s biggest financers of high carbon energy. At least £43 billion of these loans were still active at the end of 2012. In comparison, the bank lent just £167 million for renewable energy in the same year.

The estimated RBS carbon footprint for 2012 is 1.6 times the emissions of the whole of the UK in 2012, as well as 18...

Campaigners will give bottles of ‘carbon bubbles’ to shareholders at the London Stock Exchange AGM today, to highlight the vast reserves of unburnable carbon held by fossil fuel companies listed on the exchange.

The World Development Movement is calling for the London Stock Exchange to move away from finance for fossil fuels. Shares in fossil fuels are worth around £900 billion on the stock exchange, and make up a quarter of all shares listed there.

Labels on the bubbles will read: “The ‘carbon bubble’ is the amount of CO2 that would be released if all known fossil fuel reserves were extracted and burnt. Just 30 companies listed on the London Stock Exchange hold more of this unburned carbon than the CO2 emissions of the whole world for the past six years. Burning these reserves would make catastrophic climate change a certainty.”

Campaigner Kirsty Wright said:

The vast majority of the fossil fuels for which shares are listed on the London Stock Exchange simply cannot be burned. Failing to address this now can lead us down only two paths – a climate-related financial crisis, or complete planetary meltdown. In order to...

Little will be done to curb harmful food speculation today as EU finance ministers meet to approve their position on the new Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID II) – which sets new regulations for financial markets. According to a broad coalition of environmental and development organisations, loopholes in the legislation will render it ineffective to prevent food speculation, and the resulting food price spikes that hit the poorest the hardest.

Maize is one of the staple foods affected by financial speculation.

Anne van Schaik, accountable finance campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe, said:

Food speculation profits financial institutions, and costs the world's most vulnerable the food on their plates. Watertight regulation of food speculation is vital to prevent excessive speculation driving up food prices – but finance ministers have failed to agree effective controls, such as limits to the bets that speculators can make.

Marc Olivier Herman, EU policy advisor at Oxfam, said:

EU...

British company GCM Resources was dealt a serious blow today as the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) agreed to consider complaints regarding severe human rights violations associated with the company’s planned coal mine in Bangladesh.

GCM wants to open a massive open-pit coal mine in Phulbari in the north-west of Bangladesh, displacing up to 220,000 people and threatening the Sundarbans, one of the world’s largest remaining mangrove forests and a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The complaint by the International Accountability Project and the World Development Movement claims that the mine planned by the AIM-listed company would breach OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. It would violate the human rights of indigenous people from 23 different tribal groups, and destroy nearly 12,000 acres of Bangladesh’s most fertile and productive farmland.

Phulbari's fertile farmlands are Bangladesh's rice bowl. (Photo courtesy of JACSES)

Eighty per cent of local people depend on the land for their survival, but GCM will not replace their land and its project...

African farmers’ movements and civil society groups have rejected the G8’s New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition as part of a “new wave of colonialism” targeting their food systems for corporate profit.

The warning comes in a statement sent to G8 leaders today (3 June 2013) in advance of the ‘hunger summit’ to be hosted by David Cameron in London on 8 June, which will include a meeting of the New Alliance.

United Nations Photo

The New Alliance was launched by the G8 in May 2012 as a private sector investment platform for multinational corporations seeking to penetrate agricultural markets in Africa. Six African governments have already signed up to the initiative, with four more expected to join at the London hunger summit this week.

The African civil society statement notes: “Africa is seen as a possible new frontier to make profits, with an eye on land, food and biofuels in particular.” It notes that “blatant land grabs” backed by G8 powers such as the...

Campaigners set up a 'Carbon Bubbles champagne bar' outside of HSBC’s AGM to highlight the bank’s role in financing dirty energy projects.

Our bar staff were on hand at our Carbon Bubbles bar, ready to serve oil from champagne glasses, while protesters held placards reading 'HSBC stop bankrolling climate change'. 

Campaigners from the World Development Movement highlighted HSBC’s involvement in financing dirty energy projects around the world. 

For example, HSBC supports the Cerrejon coal mine in Colombia. Latin America’s largest coal mine, it has swallowed up entire villages and is subject to fierce local opposition. If the coal remaining in this mine were to be burned it would create 13,000,000,000 of CO2 emissions – 184 times the annual emissions of Colombia. Yet most of the coal is destined for export, including to the UK. [1]

HSBC has a total of £3.133 billion involvement in companies behind Cerrejon. Since 2009, HSBC has loaned a total of £369 million to the three companies behind the Cerrejon mine (£107 million to Anglo American and £262 million to Xstrata). It has also helped the three firms make £2.565 billion through bond issues (£252 million for Anglo American, £450 million for Xstrata, £1.863 billion for BHP Billiton) over the...

Campaigners from the World Development Movement will protest at Barclays’ AGM tomorrow, accusing the bank of contributing to global hunger through gambling on food prices.

Protests at Barclays' 2012 AGM.

Where: Entrance to the Barclays AGM, Royal Festival Hall, South Bank, London SE1 8XX

When: 10.30-11.30am, Thursday 25 April

Two suited, blue masked Barclays ‘eagles’ on Barclays bikes, carrying loaves of bread, will join protestors holding placards reading, ‘Barclays banks on hunger’.

Barclays announced in February that it was partially withdrawing from speculating on food prices, with chief executive Antony Jenkins saying the practice was “not compatible with our purpose”. But the bank continues to make money from enabling other financial players, including pension funds, to speculate on food.

Banks and hedge funds have been pouring millions of pounds of speculative money into agricultural commodity markets, pushing food prices beyond the reach of millions of people. Legislation to tackle speculation is on the table at the EU, but the UK...

British mining giant Anglo-American will face protests at its London AGM on Friday over controversial mining projects in Colombia and South Africa, and the climate impact of its coal extraction.

Protest: Anglo-American AGM, Friday 19 April at 1pm, Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, London SW1P 3EE

Protestors in miners’ helmets and overalls will hold placards reading ‘Anglo American: Destroying lives, Destroying the climate’.

Representatives of communities devastated by Anglo-American mines will attend the AGM to demand justice. Julio Gomez will travel from Colombia to condemn the Cerrejón open pit coal mine, in which Anglo American has a one-third share. Development of the mine has led to the eviction of indigenous and Afro-Colombian people from their ancestral territories, and the destruction of vast areas of productive land.

Following local and international outcry, the Cerrejón coal company recently shelved an expansion project which would have meant diverting the region’s only major river. All of the coal mined at Cerrejón is exported, so does not...

International development secretary Justine Greening announced yesterday that billions of pounds of aid money would go to UK businesses.

The World Development Movement’s director Deborah Doane said in response:

Directing billions of pounds of aid money to UK businesses may be good for the coffers of Coca Cola and Tesco, but this isn’t the role for aid.  There is little evidence that private sector aid works, and there is plenty of evidence that strengthening public services like health and education in developing countries reduces poverty. Aid should always be about creating a more equitable society. It should never be about boosting returns for British shareholders.

Recent experiments in privatising aid in this way have led to seriously lacklustre results. Nike’s DFID-backed Girl Hub project was slammed by the aid watchdog ICIA as having “serious deficiencies in governance” while DfID’s support  for a US company called Dominion Farms in Kenya has led to the displacement of thousands of local people.

The government is treading a dangerous line in its rhetoric. By seeking to...

One third of ministers in the UK government, including top cabinet ministers, are linked to the UK finance and energy companies fuelling climate change, a new report from the World Development Movement reveals today.

The anti-poverty campaign group has condemned the ‘finance-energy complex’ at the heart of government, and is calling on the government to force UK banks and finance companies to publish the carbon emissions released by the fossil fuel projects they fund.

Fossil fuel companies are worth £900 billion on the London Stock Exchange, and the top five UK banks underwrote £170 billion in bonds and share issues for fossil fuel companies between 2010 and 2012.

Top cabinet ministers including William Hague, Vince Cable, George Osborne and Michael Gove have links with big finance, oil and coal companies that are driving climate change.

Foreign secretary William Hague, who used to work for Shell, helped Tullow Oil get out of paying a £175 million tax bill in Uganda, one of the world’s poorest countries. Mr Hague made a personal phone call to the Ugandan president on Tullow Oil’s behalf.

Vince Cable, secretary of state for business and skills and...

Anti-poverty campaigners today launched 'Bankers Anonymous', a five-step programme to help investment banks kick their addiction to gambling on global food prices.

Barclays announced a withdrawal from speculating on food last week following public outcry over its effect on hunger.

The campaign by the World Development Movement asks people to take five steps to help win new rules to prevent banks driving food prices up through financial speculation.

Banks like Goldman Sachs are speculating on food prices, increasing volatility in the markets and fuelling sharp price rises. The World Development Movement is calling for strict controls to limit speculation.

Step one of the Bankers Anonymous programme asks people to write to their MP, urging them to call on George Osborne to back tough rules. Legislation to curb speculation is being discussed at the EU, but the UK government has so far opposed effective controls.

Goldman Sachs...

Barclays, which announced an end to its speculation on food on Tuesday, made up to an estimated £278 million from the trade in 2012. The figure brings the bank’s total revenue from food speculation from 2010 to 2012 to an estimated three quarters of a billion pounds.

The bank has pulled out of speculative deals with hedge funds. Campaigners welcome this move but are disappointed by its decision to continue selling investment products that allow other financial players, like pension funds, to speculate.

The £278 million figure was released today by the World Development Movement, which is calling for regulation to prevent banks betting on food prices and contributing to the global hunger crisis.

Barclays has been the leading UK player in speculating on food. Goldman Sachs is widely recognised as the world leader.

Barclays’ withdrawal follows announcements in 2012 by several German, Austrian and Scandinavian banks that they would reduce or suspend trading in food commodity markets. But German giant Deutsche Bank, one of the banks indicating a withdrawal, has since returned to speculating on food.

Legislation to curb speculation is on the table at the EU, but the UK government has so far...

Barclays chief Antony Jenkins announced today that the bank would stop speculating on food, saying the practice is “not compatible with our purpose”. It is unclear whether the bank will continue to broker speculative deals for its clients. Campaigners have renewed calls for tough regulation to prevent speculation fuelling price spikes and contributing to the global hunger crisis.

Jenkins announced the move today as part of the bank’s strategic review. He said the end to the bank’s trading in agricultural commodities for speculative purposes was an example of Barclays “putting its words into action”. He told UK MPs last week that he would build a “socially useful” bank and “shred situations where we're short-termist, too aggressive and too self-centred.” But Jenkins made no commitment to change the bank’s speculation on other commodities, such as oil, which has a knock-on impact on food prices.

World Development Movement campaigners protesting outside Barclays' 2012 AGM

Until now, Barclays has been the leading UK bank involved in speculation on food including staples like wheat, maize and soy. The bank...

Massive protests against British mining company GCM Resources prevented the company’s CEO visiting the site of its proposed open-pit coal mine in Bangladesh last week. One of the company’s directors resigned the following day.

CEO Gary Lye was due to visit Phulbari on 29 January, where GCM wants to open a mine that would displace up to 220,000 people. Mr Lye had planned to distribute blankets to people living in the area, according to the local press. Thousands of people joined protests against the mine, and Lye abandoned his visit on official advice.

One of GCM’s directors, Graham Taggart, resigned on Wednesday. The company’s largest shareholder, Polo Resources, has announced that it is considering selling its 29.77 per cent stake in the company.

Phulbari's fertile farmlands are Bangladesh's rice bowl. (Photo courtesy of JACSES)

A Bangladeshi parliamentary committee has also spoken out against GCM, claiming that that the company does not have a valid agreement with the Bangladeshi government to proceed with the mine.

The British mining company has faced sustained opposition to its planned mine. Three people were killed and...

WDM has reacted with concern to international development secretary Justine Greening’s announcement today that no new British financial aid grants will be made to India with immediate effect, and that from now on UK aid to India will focus on private sector projects designed to help the poor while generating a return.

Responding to this news, Alex Scrivener, policy officer for the World Development Movement said:

“It is worrying that the UK government has decided to cut all financial aid to India, which is home to a third of the world’s poorest people. While there may be a lot of money within the Indian elite, the country remains a very unequal society, with around half a billion people living in extreme poverty.

“But what is more worrying, is that UK aid money will continue to be spent on private sector projects that support the interests of big business rather than the poor. In the Indian state of Orissa, UK aid has been used to draft a government policy giving free land and tax breaks to auto-component multinationals and promote public-private partnerships in health and education – a model that has served only to fill the pockets of big business at taxpayers’ expense here in the UK. In neighbouring Bangladesh, UK aid money has helped set up ‘...

Yesterday the European Parliament’s Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) adopted its report on the review of the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID). This piece of legislation is critical to achieve stronger regulation of commodity derivative markets and limit harmful financial speculation on food

NGOs welcomed the introduction of mandatory limits on speculation but warn that a number of loopholes must be fixed to make the proposed rules effective. 

Marc Olivier Herman, Oxfam’s EU policy advisor, said: 

Betting on food prices is unacceptable in a world where nearly 1 billion people are going hungry. The vote shows that there is a majority in the European Parliament in favour of limiting harmful financial speculation. However, the text adopted yesterday falls short of what is needed to tackle food speculation.” 

Christine Haigh, the World Development Movement’s policy officer, said: 

The text adopted yesterday by the Economic Affairs Committee contains dangerous loopholes: an overly narrow definition of the limits to be imposed on speculation and generous exemption clauses excusing some companies from...

On the final day of the Rio+20 summit, the World Development Movement has slammed the lack of commitment from rich industrialised countries in the Rio+20 agreement, and has condemned the UK government’s use of the summit to push for the privatisation of nature. 

Kirsty Wright, campaigner at the World Development Movement, said:

Rio+20 has produced a pathetically unambitious document devoid of solid commitments and packed with diplomatic fudges and ambiguous language. This will do nothing to solve the multiple crises we face.

The UK government, ignoring developing countries’ solid opposition to its plans to put a financial value on nature, has used the summit to push forward its ‘great nature sale’, which would see control of resources like water and biodiversity taken from the people who depend on them, and handed over to multinational companies.

Role of the UK government 

Kirsty Wright said:

The UK government has used the Rio+20 summit as a smokescreen for pushing forward the interests of bankers and multinational corporations. As we steamroll towards environmental destruction and ever growing gap between rich and poor, the UK and its allies are championing the same broken...

Ebay seller “Rio_Summit_Nature_Sale” today listed some of the world’s most famous forests, oceans, lakes and species for sale on ebay. 

The sale was timed to coincide with a “Natural Capital Dialogue” being held today at Rio+20  by the World Bank and the UK government. The meeting will promote initiatives that put a price on ecosystems and allow new commodities to be created, as part of a “green economy” agenda that has drawn widespread criticism at the summit.

Kirsty Wright, campaigner at the World Development Movement, said today:

The UK government is promoting the sale of nature to the highest bidder. We set up the Rio+20 nature sale on ebay to demonstrate how ridiculous this is. By selling off iconic natural sites such as the Amazon rainforest and the Lake District, we are simply following the UK’s approach that the intrinsic value of ecosystems can now be quantified and that they can then be owned, speculated on and ultimately sold off to whoever has the most money."  

Lidy Nacpil, coordinator of the Jubilee South Asia/Pacific Movement on...

European proposals for the regulation of the commodity markets are inadequate to prevent excessive speculation from contributing to food price spikes, according to a new report released today.

Proposals discussed yesterday by the European parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) committee rely on a system of ‘position management’ or ‘position checks’ to prevent market manipulation and excessive speculation from distorting commodity prices. But the report, from the World Development Movement, argues that the proposals are doomed to failure and that a system of position limits is essential.

Financial speculation on the commodity markets is fuelling price volatility and contributing to price spikes, increasing food bills for consumers and driving up hunger and poverty.

The report, ‘Back to fundamentals’, shows that:

Position limits are the international norm for regulating the commodity markets.

Position limits have a track record of success - US markets functioned effectively for...

EU plans to promote the replacement of fossil fuels with biomass at the Rio+20 Earth Summit could lead to hunger and environmental devastation, according to a report released today by the World Development Movement and the Transnational Institute.

The report, ‘Bio-economies: the EU’s real ‘Green Economy’ agenda’, condemns the EU’s bio-economy vision as “a tantalising mirage, promising a green future but likely to deliver a parched and arid reality”.

The EU’s bio-economy policy aims to replace fossil fuels with biomass – including wood fibres, grass, bamboo, soybeans, corn and algae - as a source of energy and in the production of plastics and other manufactured goods. But the EU’s own analysis indicates that this would have a disastrous impact on developing countries, including severe pressures on food supply. 

Alex Scrivener, policy officer at the World Development Movement, said today:

“Substituting biomass for fossil fuels sounds like the easy solution to climate change. But in reality, it leads to land grabs, the destruction of rainforests, and severe food shortages where land is used to grow fuel instead of food. And the idea that biofuels are ‘...

The UK’s financial regulator is compromised by corporate capture and is increasingly acting as a lobbying arm for the sector it is supposed to regulate, a new report reveals today.

The report, ‘Financial Services Authority: watchdog or lapdog?’, by the World Development Movement, documents how funding from the City of London, a board dominated by figures from the banking sector, and a rapidly revolving door have led to a close relationship between regulators and the financial sector. 

The report exposes the Financial Services Authority (FSA)’s use of its resources to influence financial reform legislation in the financial sector’s favour. It argues that the regulator is working to prevent effective regulation of the commodity markets, where financial speculation has contributed to sharp spikes in food prices.

A text drafted last week by an FSA secondee in the European parliament has proposed to severely weaken European Commission proposals to regulate the commodity markets, failing to reflect the concerns of many MEPs.

FSA staff have been seconded to every UK and EU institution involved in financial reform, and are lobbying MPs in the European...

The Moroccan government is expected to award a contract in the coming weeks for the building of a massive solar power plant in Morocco, using UK aid money to produce electricity for Europe.

Money taken from the UK aid budget is to be used by the World Bank to finance the Ouarzazate solar project, designed to prioritise export to Europe rather than to ensure that ordinary Moroccans can access affordable electricity.

The project is part funded the World Bank’s Clean Technology Fund, which receives 14 per cent of its money - or £385 million – from the UK overseas aid budget. The fund’s objectives include poverty reduction, but a report launched today by the World Development Movement argues that the project could in fact exacerbate poverty in Morocco.

The report’s author Oscar Reyes said today:

Investment in renewable energy is essential to the fight against climate change. But measures to tackle climate change will only work if they also address poverty and inequality. By setting in place an export-led model that is likely to see electricity...

Campaigners from the World Development Movement will protest at Barclays’ AGM tomorrow, exposing Barclays’ role in fuelling global hunger by betting on food prices.

Where: Entrance to the Barclays AGM, Royal Festival Hall, South Bank, London SE1 8XX

When: 10.30-11.30am, Friday 27 April

Two suited, blue masked Barclays ‘eagles’ on Barclays bikes will join protestors holding placards reading, ‘Barclays banks on hunger’.

The campaigners also staged an award ceremony outside Barclays HQ in Canary Wharf today to hand over a ‘shame award’, which the bank won for speculating on food prices.

The World Development Movement estimates that Barclays made up to £189 million from speculating on food in 2011. The bank is the biggest UK player in commodity markets, and claims to be in the global top three. Massive influxes of speculative money in food markets have been driving sharp price spikes, sending the cost of food soaring beyond the reach of the world’s poorest people.

Barclays CEO Bob Diamond, currently in the spotlight over his £17.7 million pay package, responded to the Occupy movement by telling the BBC in November that banks must be “better citizens”. Diamond...

Ahead of deliberations by MEPs on Wednesday, 25 campaign groups from across Europe today released a statement (PDF) urging the EU to use the review of its Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID) to curb financial speculation on food prices. 

The European Parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee (ECON) will meet on Wednesday to discuss the report on the Commission’s MiFID proposal by the rapporteur, German MEP Markus Ferber. 

The campaign groups are calling for the updated MiFID to include position limits to prevent speculation on food and other commodities from driving up prices, meaningful transparency, oversight and supervisory powers to ensure effective regulation, and bans on harmful trading methods and on financial entities speculating in commodity markets.

Christine Haigh, campaigner at the World Development Movement, said:

Deregulation of commodity markets since the 1990s has led to increased food price volatility, contributing to the recent food price spikes that have left millions across the world facing hunger and poverty. We urgently need MEPs and the Council of Ministers to reregulate these...

The battle over EU commodity market regulation commences this week, with key bureaucrats meeting in Brussels tomorrow to thrash out an agreement on regulation of commodity derivative markets.

The European Parliament’s rapporteur for the review of the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID), German MEP Markus Ferber, said on Friday that he intends to introduce strong controls on financial speculation in these markets:

Highly speculative investment must no longer influence the price of agrarian raw materials. Excessive speculation on foodstuffs and raw materials threatens the smooth functioning of commodity future markets and creates massive price volatility. We certainly need to contain that.”

It is unclear whether the officials from member states meeting tomorrow will make a similar recommendation. The UK government is known to be opposed to the introduction of ‘position limits’, which advocates believe to be the most effective tool in limiting speculative activity in commodity derivatives markets. The UK is expected to block any attempts to remove a loophole which would allow weaker ‘alternative arrangements’ at tomorrow’s meeting. Position limits would set maximum limits for the market share traders could hold.

The...

UK consumers are paying 3.7 per cent more for food than they did a year ago, leading to calls for the Chancellor George Osborne to tackle financial speculation on food prices. The rise has added more than £100 to the average household’s annual grocery bill.

Inflation figures released today reveal that food prices rose by 1.2 per cent from January to February this year, contributing to the 3.7 per cent annual rise, which is well above the government’s 2 per cent target for overall inflation. [1]

Ahead of tomorrow’s budget, the World Development Movement is calling on George Osborne to back European measures to stop financial speculation by banks and hedge funds driving up food prices. Real incomes in the UK are shrinking and almost a billion people face hunger worldwide, but curbing speculation would help prevent price spikes and would cost the Treasury virtually nothing, says the anti-poverty group.

High prices are also harming British businesses. Premier Foods, owner of Hovis, yesterday announced a £259.1 million pre-tax loss for 2011, partially due to rising wheat prices. The global price of cereals rose by 35 per cent from 2010 to 2011. [2]

Deborah Doane, director of the World Development Movement...

555 million women go hungry worldwide, according to estimates released today by the World Development Movement to mark International Women’s Day.

The anti-poverty campaign group is calling for action to tackle spiralling food prices, which disproportionately affect women. The EU will vote later this year on measures to prevent excessive financial speculation in food markets from driving up prices.

An estimated 60 per cent of the world’s 925 million hungry people are women, and 315,000 women die annually in childbirth due to lack of iron. Food prices in 2011 were 24 per cent higher than in 2010, driving more people into hunger, malnutrition and poverty.  

Indian government food advisor Biraj Patnaik told the World Development Movement:

Among the complaints of starvation deaths that we receive in my office to investigate, a large number are from single women who are bringing up children … Women often, given the gender inequity in our society, ration their own food so they can feed the children and feed parents."

Judith Atieno Odhiambo from Kenya told the World Development Movement how a sudden price hike affected her:

The prices shot up and later...

WDM today welcomed the Scottish government's announcement of the setting up of a ‘climate justice fund’ for climate adaptation in developing countries, but warned that the scale of climate injustice suffered by countries in the south means that the SNP's £9 million manifesto pledge for the fund must be increased.

 Liz Murray, head of Scottish campaigns for the World Development Movement said:

“We welcome the Scottish government’s announcement of its ‘climate justice fund’ and its acknowledgement that Scotland owes a huge climate debt to the world’s poorest people.  Scotland got rich on fossil fuel energy at the expense of poorer countries who are now suffering the impacts of climate change.   And on a planet with limited capacity to absorb carbon, the rich world has left the rest of the world with little room to take the same development path. But the scale of climate injustice should not be underestimated, and if Scotland is going to make a fair contribution then the SNP government’s manifesto pledge of £9 million for this fund must be increased.

Cutting emissions here in Scotland is also a vital part of ensuring climate justice. That means the Scottish government must say no to a new coal-fired power station at Hunterston, to...

 The World Development Movement has today warned that the UK’s new drive to provide aid to Somalia is looking like a ‘cynical’ attempt to grab its oil, rather than being aimed at ensuring a better future for people in one of the world’s poorest countries.

A report in the Observer newspaper on Sunday revealed that UK officials have been engaged in secret negotiations with Somali leaders to secure access to the country’s immense oil reserves. The revelation came after the UK announced a large aid package for Somalia, and David Cameron hosted a conference in London last week on the development of the war torn state. 

International development secretary Andrew Mitchell has denied that the timing of the aid programme is linked to the imminent start of oil extraction in Somalia. But the World Development Movement is concerned that the UK may have set off an international scramble for the country’s fossil fuel resources that will be of no benefit to the local population. Other countries, like Nigeria or Angola, that have embarked on resource extraction as a form of “development” are now plagued by the resource curse, which may actually lower GDP over the long-term, while...

Barclays’ £1.5 billion investment banking bonus pool could pay for school meals for two years for the 23 million primary age children who attend school hungry across Africa, according to figures from the World Development Movement.  

The anti-poverty group has slammed the bank for its involvement in speculation on food prices which is fuelling global price spikes, incentivised by bonuses which it claims reward risky and socially damaging behaviour. 

The total bonus pool for the bank’s investment arm could pay for 9.6 billion meals, the campaign group said today.  

Barclays has been estimated to make up to £340 million a year from speculating on food, while almost a billion people go hungry worldwide. The World Development Movement is calling for tough regulation to curb speculation on food. The group has claimed today that big banks’ ‘bonus culture’ fuels gambling behaviour that risks people’s lives. 

Christine Haigh, campaigner at the World Development Movement, said today:

Big bonuses encourage bankers to take big risks, not only with financial stability through their debt-based investment, but also with people’s lives. The kind of ‘success’ Barclays has...

Barclays Bank has today won a Public Eye ‘shame award’, for speculating on food prices. Barclays’ activity is fuelling hunger and poverty worldwide, says the World Development Movement, which nominated the bank.

The award was presented today in Davos, Switzerland, to coincide with the World Economic Forum.

Barclays is estimated to make up to £340 million a year from speculating in food ‘futures’ markets, making it the biggest UK player in the markets. Massive influxes of speculative money in food markets have been driving sharp price spikes, sending the cost of food soaring beyond the reach of the world’s poorest people.

Barclays won the Public Eye ‘global award’, selected by a panel of judges. The ‘people’s award’, decided by an online vote, went to Brazilian company Vale, for its involvement in the construction of the controversial Belo Monte dam in the Amazon. Forty thousand people are likely to be forced from their land if the dam goes ahead.

Barclays CEO Bob Diamond responded to the Occupy movement by telling the BBC in November that banks must be “better citizens”. 

Rules to curb speculation are being...

By the end of tomorrow (Friday 13 January 2012), the average person in Britain will have emitted as much carbon dioxide as the average person in Kenya will in an entire year, according to figures from the World Development Movement. 

The latest available data shows Kenya’s annual per capita carbon emissions at 0.293 tons, while the UK’s are 8.351 tons. Despite having such little responsibility for causing climate change, Kenyans are facing some of the worst weather related disasters globally. Last year, Kenya and neighbouring East African countries suffered their worst drought in 60 years, resulting in a severe food crisis.

By 2 January the average UK citizen had already emitted as much CO2 as the average person in Chad or Afghanistan will by the end of 2012.

By 16 January the average Brit will have emitted as much CO2 as the average Bangladeshi will all year. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts that Bangladesh will face an increasing number of disasters due to typhoons and tropical storms.

By 1 March a UK citizen will have emitted as much CO2 as the average citizen of India will do all year. An estimated 700...

European banks, pension funds and insurance companies are increasing global hunger and poverty by speculating on food prices and financing land grabs in poorer countries, according to a new report released today (January 12) by Friends of the Earth Europe and the World Development Movement. [1]

The report, ‘Farming Money’, analyses the activities of 29 European banks, pension funds and insurance companies, including Barclays, RBS, HSBC, Deutsche Bank, Allianz, BNP Paribas, AXA, Generali, Allianz, Unicredit and Credit Agricole. It reveals the significant involvement of these financial institutions in food speculation, and the direct or indirect financing of land grabbing. Environmental and development organisations are calling for strict regulation to rein in these destructive activities.

Hannah Griffiths, head of policy and campaigns at the World Development Movement, said:

Financial speculation on food and the financing of land grabbing have destabilised global food prices, with steep price hikes forcing millions of people into poverty and hunger. Banks like Barclays are making vast profits at the expense of the lives of the world’s most vulnerable people....

Barclays Bank has been shortlisted for the 2012 Public Eye ‘shame award’ due to its financial speculation on food prices. Anti-poverty campaign group the World Development Movement, which nominated the bank, says its activity is fuelling hunger and poverty worldwide. 

Barclays is estimated to make up to £340 million a year from speculating in food ‘futures’ markets, making it the biggest UK player in the markets. Research by the World Development Movement shows that a massive influx of speculative money in food markets is driving sharp price spikes, sending the cost of food soaring beyond the reach of the world’s poorest people. Financial speculation on food nearly doubled between 2006 and 2011.

Barclays CEO Bob Diamond responded to the Occupy movement by telling the BBC in November that banks must be “better citizens”. But Barclays has ignored calls from campaigners to put the basic human need for food before the profits it makes from speculation.

Amy Horton, campaigner at the World Development Movement, said today:

Barclays is essentially gambling on food prices, at the expense of millions of people...

The World Development Movement has slammed the outcome of the UN climate talks in Durban as a ‘spectacular failure’ that will condemn the world’s poorest people to hunger, poverty and ultimately, death.

Murray Worthy, World Development Movement policy officer, said: “Developed countries have behaved shamefully, blocking meaningful progress on tackling climate change. They have refused to acknowledge their historical responsibility for the crisis, either by agreeing to reduce their emissions or by providing finance to help developing countries deal with climate change. 

“These talks have been held hostage by the EU. It seems EU countries came to Durban to impose a deal, not negotiate one. The spectacular failure to achieve an outcome on the most urgent issues puts the world on course for devastating climate change, condemning those least responsible to greater hunger, poverty and ultimately, death.

“The Kyoto Protocol is now only a shadow of what it was and the second commitment period will be its last. There is nothing more than hope in a new deal to replace it, a deal that could well be based on the weak ineffective voluntary approach first put forward at Copenhagen, and that would come into force too late to have any chance of avoiding the most...



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