Campaign successes | World Development Movement

Join us in the fight for economic justice and an end to global poverty.

Campaign successes

WDM was founded in 1970, by bringing together a number of groups which had been campaigning against world poverty during the late 1960s. We broke new ground by focusing on the causes of poverty and demanding policy changes rather than charitable giving. Since then, WDM has evolved into a democratic, politically independent organisation, with 15,000 supporters and a network of 60 local groups across the UK. Read more about our campaigning successes below.

WDM protesting about the arms trade

  • 2013 After more than three years of campaigning by WDM and allies across Europe, the EU agrees legislation to introduce limits on financial speculation on food and other commodities and to improve transparency.
  • 2013 Two years of concerted campaigning by WDM results in Barclays, the UK’s biggest player in food speculation and one of the top three globally, announcing that it will no longer trade in food for speculative purposes.
  • 2012 Following a prolonged campaign by a coalition of Scottish NGOs and local pressure groups including WDM Scotland, plans for a new coal-fired power station in Hunterston, North Ayrshire are shelved.
  • 2011 The UK government puts £10 million of its climate finance towards the UN Adaptation Fund, and agrees to give the majority of its funds that year to the World Bank's climate adaptation fund as grants rather than loans.
  • 2011 After concerted lobbying by WDM supporters, French oil company Total postpones plans to mine tar sands deposits in one of the poorest regions of Madagascar. 
  • 2010 After campaigning by WDM, RBS commits to developing external environmental, social and ethical risk statements and internally implementing similar policies for oil and gas, mining and metals and forestry and defence. 
  • 2010 After sustained campaigning by WDM, including meetings with RBS group chairman Sir Philip Hampton and other board members, RBS’s 2010 and 2011 sustainability reports for the first time highlighted the issue of tar sands. 
  • 2010 As a direct result of WDM’s water campaign, the EU allocates €40 million to support twinning arrangements between public water utilities in poor regions of Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific and wealthier European countries.
  • 2010 The Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government announce that new runways at Heathrow and Stansted would be cancelled, and that a new tax on planes would be introduced. Both were demands of our climate change campaign.
  • 2010 The UK government announces the creation of a Green Investment Bank, one of the demands of our cleaning up the banks campaign.

I respect the World Development Movement because it works alongside campaigners in the world’s poorest countries to win justice. Join WDM and support their campaigns – it’s an effective way UK citizens can tackle the root causes of poverty."
- Kiama Kaara, campaigner, Kenya Debt Relief Network 

  • 2009 Following joint campaigning by WDM and other groups and organisations, EON cancels plans for a new coal power station at Kingsnorth in Kent.
  • 2009 The Scottish government passes a very strong Scottish climate act with the most ambitious emissions reduction targets in the industrial world: 42% cuts in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.  WDM Scotland worked in coalition with Stop Climate Chaos Scotland to ensure this strong climate law.
  • 2008 Following WDM’s campaign, Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland and the UK government withdraw their support for a proposed mine by a British company in Bangladesh, which would displace more than 40,000 people from their land.
  • 2007 The UK sets a law to reduce UK greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent by 2050, a vital step to prevent catastrophic impacts of climate change on poor people across the world.
  • 2007 After many supporters email the company, Severn Trent withdraws from bidding for a water privatisation contract with Nepal.
  • 2007 After campaigning by the World Development Movement, Hilary Benn announces support for public water.
  • 2007 The government of Norway abandons funding for a controversial water privatisation scheme.
  • 2006 WDM Scotland is a founding member and organiser of the first Edinburgh World Justice Festival
  • 2005 WDM celebrates! After years of pressure from campaigners, the government claims it will end the practice of making aid conditional on sensitive economic policy choices, such as trade liberalisation and privatisation. 
  • 2005 WDM working as part of the Trade Justice Movement convinces the UK government to alter its view on Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs). WDM welcomes the government announcement that the EU should not make demands on developing countries, including issues such as investment, through EPAs. However, there is still a long way to go to make EPAs work for development.
  • 2005 WDM claims victory as UK water company, Biwater Plc, announces it has withdrawn from the bidding process for a controversial water privatisation in Ghana.

The people of the lesser developed countries has suffered so much. There are those who have tried to change this. I give thanks to WDM and its work.
- Rev Desmond Tutu

  • 2005  WDM Scotland is involved in Make Poverty History marching through Edinburgh with a quarter of a million others to demand action on aid, debt and trade.
  • 2004 WDM forces the government to publicly abandon its support for new EU negotiations on investment and competition agreements - two of the so-called 'New Issues' or 'Singapore Issues'.
  • 2004 WDM congratulates Gordon Brown on listening to campaigners from WDM and the Jubilee Debt Campaign. The government conceded to two of our core demands - that current levels of debt relief are inadequate and insufficient countries are included.
  • 2003 WDM and the Jubilee Debt Campaign force the Big Food Group (owners of Iceland food stores) to drop a claim to recover a £12 million debt from the tiny South American state of Guyana.
  • 2001 WDM exposes the GATS negotiations aimed at removing government regulation of services, which could threaten access to water, education and healthcare for the world's poor.
  • 2000 WDM debunks the myth perpetuated by the biotech companies that genetic modification is the solution to world hunger. WDM campaigned for international recognition of the Biosafety protocol, and opened up the GMO debate in Britain to include the impact of GMOs on Third World farmers.
  • 1999 The IMF announces proposals to link debt relief to poverty reduction - a key demand of WDM's 'Stop Sapping the Poor' campaign. Jubilee 2000, of whom WDM was a founding member, secured a G7 deal for improved debt relief and a commitment from Gordon Brown, Chancellor of the Exchequer, to cancel up to 100% of poorest country debts to Britain.

WDM is an influential movement of people, committed to finding solutions to the root causes of world poverty. They are not afraid to deal with the issues head on. Join me by supporting WDM."
- Benjamin Zephaniah

  • 1998 WDM obtains a commitment from the British government in the December 1998 White Paper on Tobacco to take a lead role on the international stage in a landmark initiative to bring in global marketing standards.
  • 1998 WDM leads the British part of the global campaign to postpone Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) governments from secretly signing the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI).
  • 1998 The MAI would give more power to multinationals, and weaken governments' rights to stand up to them. Our fight to stop a 'MAI Mark 2' being negotiated in the World Trade Organisation continues.
  • 1997 WDM convinces multinational Del Monte to allow trade unions on its banana plantations in Costa Rica. Now thousands of banana workers have the right to negotiate for better working conditions.
  • 1997 WDM campaigning ends the Aid and Trade Provision, which used overseas aid to benefit British industry. More aid will now go directly to the world's poorest people.
  • 1997 WDM pressurises the new Labour government to tighten up its arms export criteria in our campaign to stop arms sales to repressive regimes.

Whenever I hear politicians defending policies that are actually increasing injustice and suffering, I know that WDM will be on their case, confronting them and winning the argument. "
- Anita Roddick


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