Civil society organizations are calling on the African Development Bank (AfDB) to stop funding projects that aggravate the climate crisis and deteriorate the environment, leading to human rights violations.
According to the group, since the AfDB is one of the main funders of projects in the countries, they must be circumspect and guided.
They however suggested that: “The AfDB protects natural resources, addresses environmental and climate crises, and also ensures a just energy transition, including an energy sector policy update. It must ensure participatory processes in policies, programs and projects, including continuous reviews of disclosure and access to information policy and the integrated safeguard system.
“Furthermore, it must prioritize community-led development and human rights-based approaches; raising the bar on access to information, transparency and accountability, including the creation of a redress fund to deal with negative project impacts; end inequality, poverty and the reduction and privatization of vital services; and protect African countries from the growing debt crisis.
The call was made on the sidelines of the AfDB’s Annual Meeting in Accra, which was attended by over 3,000 delegates, with a focus on the role the bank can play in achieving climate resilience by Africa.
The CSO group further asked how the communities most affected by climate change and the civil society groups that support them do not have a seat at the table discussing such pressing development issues.
Building on this, 30 participants from 11 countries attended the CSO meeting to strategize to ensure that African communities are heard and respected by the AfDB in addressing pressing challenges in Africa.
“Transparency and participation are among the biggest shortcomings of AfDB governance, and the 2022 Annual Meetings, unfortunately, demonstrate the failure to prioritize engagement with civil society and communities. We are so concerned that there is no place for civil society on the official agenda,” said Aly Marie Sagne, Founder and Executive Director of Lumière Synergie pour le Développement, Senegal.
“We don’t understand why the AfDB put such a risky project in our community.” Fatou Samba, representative of a community whose livelihoods and environment have been affected by the AfDB-funded Sendou coal-fired power plant project in Senegal, noted.
Many participants in the strategy session are members of the RightDevAfrica campaign, which urges the AfDB to adopt more inclusive approaches in its operations and to effectively engage and learn from the expertise of rights holders in Africa.
The AfDB finances hundreds of projects across the continent and is one of Africa’s leading economic players. Through its direct and indirect funding, it supports projects and policies in a wide range of sectors, including agribusiness, energy and infrastructure.
Although the AfDB is supposed to serve the interests of African people, it lags behind its peers in terms of transparent and participatory policies and implementation, and it is very difficult for civil societies, local communities, indigenous peoples and all rights holders to hold the bank accountable at all stages of its operations.
This approach to development has resulted in negative impacts on AfDB project communities, including human rights, labor and environmental harm. Furthermore, it has led to conflicting approaches to challenges such as the climate crisis, where the AfDB is supporting needed adaptation and mitigation projects on the one hand, and funding climate-damaging fossil fuel projects. on the other hand.