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World Bank President Ajay Banga refuses to receive petition from Civil society

By Grace Ronoh (Recourse) & Lorraine Chiponda (Dont Gas Africa)

 World Bank President Ajay  Banga refuses to receive petition from Civil society

The World Bank/IMF annual general meeting was held in Marrakech this year at the end of October 2023. As per the World Bank, the meeting brings together stakeholders to discuss issues of global concern, including addressing poverty among other emerging challenges such as aid effectiveness as well as climate responsiveness.

The civil society policy forum (CSPF) which happens on the sidelines of the AGM is also meant to provide an open space for Civil Society Organizations to dialogue and exchange views with World Bank Group and IMF staff and other stakeholders on a wide range of shared development issues.

In light of the many challenging development issues faced by nations, especially in the global south, it was timely for civil society to have a conversation with the World Bank. The civil society organizations from both the South and North outlined priority areas for the bank to consider in a petition to the World Bank

The petition with 40,000 signatories had  four clear demands:

  1. Stop funding fossil fuels 
  2. Re-direct money to support  a fair  and just energy transition to renewable energy  
  3. Support access to  clean affordable energy for all
  4. Stop unjust lending policies that further oppression and deepen inequality

It was both utterly disappointing and not a show of goodwill for the president to turn down and flatly refuse the petition when it was presented to him by two women representatives of the global South CSOs at the end of the  CSO town hall meeting.

  • The President’s refusal to accept the petition

When presented with the petition, the president was categorical that he would not receive the petition. His refusal to accept the petition signals that the World Bank is still not prepared to work with Civil society partners to respond to the key issues. 

Banga in his response would not accept the petition due to the message requesting the World Bank to halt all funding to fossil fuels. In his earlier speech, he noted that World Bank funding for fossils had come down to 170 million dollars by the year 2023. Estimates by Oil Change International suggest that these figures themselves have serious discrepancies and that the World Bank Group directly financed $885 million in fossil fuels in fiscal year 2022. The overall message was ‘The World Bank will not halt funding for fossils’ which is very concerning.

It is clear that financing fossil fuels in the name of ensuring energy access is not viable. Evidence suggests that even with growing investments in fossils, including fossil gas, energy poverty still persists especially in the global south. These economies will be locked into fossil fuel investments and might be unable to catch up on the energy transition.

  • Message to the World Bank

Our call to the World Bank is that Civil society is open to having meaningful, inclusive conversations with the bank. The Bank should consider accepting the petition which represents over 40,000 signatures.

This will go to show that the bank is open to dialogue with civil society on key issues.

Our call to the World Bank is to prioritize defunding all fossil fuels and gas and redirect funding to renewable, affordable, and sustainable energy. We hope that Banga will consider messages from the civil society shared through this petition and provide an open channel of communication on the main issue of fossil fuels. It is high time to rethink the current strategies and re-direct funding towards renewables. This can only happen if the finance architecture is made fair to reduce the indebtedness of global south countries and enhance investments for a just energy transition.

Grace Ronoh is the energy access Advisor at Recourse

Twitter: @RonohC @RecourseTeam

Lorraine is a Co-Facilitator  —  Dont Gas Africa