A seminar on World Bank & International Finance: Legacy, Lessons & Current Struggles organized by Working Group on IFIs.
21st April 2022; New Delhi: A seminar was organised on the theme “World Bank & International Finance: Legacy, Lessons & Current Struggles” by the Working Group on IFIs and Financial Accountability Network as a part of the World Without World Bank Campaign at India International Centre, Delhi. The keynote address was delivered by Medha Patkar, who highlighted on-ground concerns of the changing economic and cultural landscape for India’s marginalized communities. She further added that, “This is due to the unregulated flow of international finance and capital flows, which are driven by a profit motive and not concerned with improving the lives of citizens.”
The three panels session provided several nuances and points of discussion on various aspects of international finance and ongoing struggles in the South Asian contexts. The session tilled titled Legacy of World Bank and MDB’s: Looking back at experiences from India saw Gajendra Bhai (Sarpanch Navinal Gram Panchayat), Vimal Bhai (Matu Jansangathan), Ram Wangkheirakpam (Indigenous Perspectives), R Shreedhar (Environics Trust) and Anuradha Munshi (Center for Financial Accountability) on the panel. They addressed specific International Finance projects like the Tata Mundra project, Sasan Ultra Mega Project and the Trans Asian Highway project, which have significantly displaced indigenous populations, destroyed aquatic life and fertile land. The projects lack any real grievance mechanisms and do not operate along the lines of transparency and accountability.
The second session, titled Legacy of World Bank and MDB’s: Looking back at global experiences was addressed by Kate Geary (Recourse, UK), Chiara Mariotti (Eurodad, Belgium), Andri Prasetiyo (Trend Asia, Indonesia) and Htet Aung Shine (IFI Watch, Myanmar). The panelists focussed on the current concerns and struggles particularly in relation to financial mechanisms and current struggles in Asia. Concerts were raised on how financial intermediary investments continue to support coal and fossil fuel based investments despite commitment to Paris Alignment. Another speaker focussed on how Development Policy Financing is enabling policy changes in developing nations in the name of prior actions. Other speakers shared about the struggles and challenges being faced in Indonesia and Myanmar through World Bank investments.
In the concluding session the panelists focussed on International finance in the current times: Looking forward. The panelists included Leo Saldanha (Environment Support Group), Swathi Seshadri (Center for Financial Accountability), Krishnakant (Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti/NAPM), Gaurav Dwivedi (Center for Financial Accountability), Soumya Dutta (Bharat Jan Vigyan Jatha/MAUSAM), and Sarath Cheloor (NAPM)l. They stressed the complexities of private financing and the difficulties in obtaining financial data. With case studies from the petrochemical industry, climate finance. Speakers also threw light on the projects like and bullet train project in Ahmedabad and K-rail in Kerala, highlighting the significant role of private international finance and that of national governments in sustaining projects that create and perpetuate environmental, social and human rights violations.
The World Without World Bank campaign organised by the Working Group on IFIs which consists of numerous civil society organizations in India come together to try and expose the Bank, understand its agenda and investments and to understand the wide-ranging impacts of World Bank financing on India’s political economy.