Protests in S Asia over World Bank climate loans
On Saturday 19 February a human chain was formed in Dhaka, capital of Bangladesh, protesting against World Bank climate loans.
The protest was organised by seven civil society organisations, including Jubilee South members, Equity and Justice Working Group. Rezaul Karim Chowdhury from Equity and Justice said the Bangladeshi government’s decision to accept loans for dealing with the impact of climate change contradicted previous official statements that they would not take loans.
In November 2010, the World Bank and governments such as the UK agreed to lend Bangladesh over $500 million for projects to help the South Asian country adapt to climate change, for instance making housing more resilient to increasing floods. In contrast, just $50 million is being given as a grant. Over $150 million of the money for these loans has come from the UK government.
Repaying foreign debts already uses up 10 per cent of Bangladeshi government revenue, more than is spent on healthcare.
Meanwhile, 12 organisations in Nepal, including the NGO Federation of Nepal, have written a statement saying climate finance should never be loans:
“we urge the Government of Nepal to stand by with its positions on climate finance and not to accept any loans on climate change. We also oppose the World Bank on pledging of loans for adaptation and resilience to the nations that need immediate financial support to adapt to adverse effects of climate change.”
The Nepal Parliamentary Committee on Finance and Labour relations has also spoken out, saying the country should ask for grants not loans to tackle climate change. Saligram Jamarkattel MP said: "Nepal is not a climate change problem creator; it is the victim. Those responsible should pay compensation to Nepal rather than Nepal itself taking the loan."
Nepal spends 8 per cent of government revenue repaying foreign debts. Along with five other countries, it is next in line to receive World Bank and UK government climate loans.
Read more: Paying twice for climate change (Briefing)