Saturday, October 12, 2013

Groups Protest World Bank Support for Destructive Dams and Fossil Fuels

Groups Protest World Bank Support for Destructive Dams and Fossil Fuels
Civil Society Alliance Demands Clean Local Power for the Poor
Washington DC, Saturday, 12 October 2013

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The World Bank should shift its energy lending away from dirty power
plants toward clean local energy for the poor, a coalition of civil
society organizations said today during a protest outside the Bank's
annual meeting. The Power 4 People coalition – coordinated by
International Rivers, Amazon Watch, and Jeunes Volontaires pour
l'Environnement, and supported by 60 organizations from 31 countries –
said it would urge governments to move global energy finance away from
the World Bank if the multilateral institution did not abandon its focus
on dirty energy projects. Under President Jim Kim, the World Bank has
been increasing support for mega-dams and gas projects, while continuing
to neglect renewable energy and rural electrification.

Peter Bosshard, Policy Director of International Rivers, introduced the
Power 4 People campaign at the protest. "After development banks have
spent hundreds of billions of dollars on dirty energy projects, 1.3
billion people remain without access to electricity," Bosshard said.
"Decentralized renewable energy solutions are more effective at reducing
energy poverty, protecting the environment and mitigating climate change."

Jamil Junejo, the Programs Manager for Pakistan Fisherfolks Forum,
warned about the World Bank's plan to fund new mega-dams, including on
the Indus and the Congo rivers. Mega-dams" Junejo said, "have destroyed
ecosystems and impoverished millions of people. I see this with our
fisherfolk communities in Pakistan, where hundreds of thousands of
people have lost their livelihoods to mega-dams. Energy conservation and
decentralized renewable energy sources are the best ways to bring power
to the people."

Delphine Djiraibe, a Chadian human rights attorney who was awarded the
Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award, has closely followed the World
Bank's socially and environmentally disastrous Chad-Cameroon Pipeline
Project, where, she argued, the Bank's "model" private-public
partnership further impoverished the population of the oil-producing
region and the entire country. Djiraibe said that oil revenues were a
factor in the nation's 2005-2010 armed conflict, calling them a "curse".
She commented at the protest that "it appears that the Bank has learned
little from its experience and is proposing to do still more massive
projects where the risks are placed squarely on the most vulnerable

Bernardino Morales from the Ngobe indigenous group in Panama recalled
that large dams and fossil fuel projects destroy the rivers and forests
on which millions of people, including indigenous peoples, depend for
their livelihoods. "The construction of the Chan 75 Dam has caused
severe destruction with our indigenous community in Panama, and the
World Bank has refused responsibility for it" said Morales. "Energy
projects must respect the rights of the people they are supposed to
serve, and meet highest social, environmental and human rights standards."

The Power 4 People coalition calls on the World Bank and other
development banks "to stop funding destructive forms of energy and shift
support to energy conservation, energy efficiency and decentralized
renewable energy solutions." Development banks need to create dedicated
financing mechanisms, indicators and timetables to make such a
transformation happen. As long as they continue to fund destructive
forms of energy, governments should shift their funding to institutions
and mechanisms that are more effective at ensuring universal access to
modern energy services.

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