The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Nathalia Clark

'Public Development Banks Must Lead a Just Recovery. But They Are Lagging Behind'

On the occasion of the first ever international summit of public financial institutions, civil society groups urge them to urgently address the climate crisis by stop financing fossil fuels


For the first time in history, over 400 public financial institutions from around the world gathered to discuss policies that, if adopted, would ensure a just and sustainable transition to a better future for all. In the context of the COVID-19 crisis, all participating banks agreed to work to align with the Paris Agreement, the sustainable development goals and biodiversity goals. But they fell short to demonstrate how these principles would translate into concrete and measurable commitments. Approximately $2 trillion in public money should now be being put into real actions to address the health, economic and planetary crises the world faces, but campaigners are critical about the outcomes of the Finance in Common Summit (FiC) and warn that this was yet another wasted opportunity.

Taking place 11-12 November 2020, the summit shed light on the crucial role of Public Development Banks (PDBs) in enacting sustainable recovery measures that will have a long-term impact on the planet and communities. A joint statement signed by over 320 civil society organisations called on PDBs to devote their considerable financial resources and influence towards building a just, equitable, inclusive and sustainable future for all. But the clear lack of concrete time-bound pledges made the FiC commitments well below the level of ambition that was expected from public development banks.

"With their public mandate, development banks have a great responsibility in making sure that investments directly benefit communities. We urge them to stop funding fossil fuel projects, and place human rights, racial and climate justice at the core of their actions. They must seize the opportunity to lead the way and initiate a deep and rapid shift in the way they operate, in line with a Just Recovery for all. But they are choosing to lag behind. Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, limiting global warming to 1.5degC, protecting communities and ensuring climate justice should be the key drivers of action for all sectors of our society over the coming decade," says Clemence Dubois, France Team Leader at

The Finance in Common Summit is one step of many. One month from now, on December 12th, the Paris Agreement will be celebrating its 5th anniversary. The past five years have not seen enough climate action. G20 nations are still providing three times as much money each year to fossil fuels as they are to clean energy, and this has not changed despite their public commitments under the Paris climate deal. This occasion should be a moment to speed up action towards truly implementing its goals, including to align financial flows with "pathways to low greenhouse gas emissions and climate resilient development."

In the leadup to COP26, where finance will be a key topic, civil society groups call on financial institutions to lead the way and increase their support for a just transition away from fossil fuels. They must increase the share of finance dedicated to climate action to assist countries in accelerating their own low-carbon development pathways, commit to fully align with the Paris Agreement, and support other financial institutions in their efforts to implement similar commitments.

"Getting public finance institutions out of fossil fuels is an urgent task. This is the time for these publicly funded entities to make the right call and make sure that the resources available will be spent to create the future we need. We have a historic chance to drive real, transformative change and build back better in line with climate and sustainable goals. Real leadership from public banks would send a strong political signal towards the private sector to help build momentum towards a successful COP26 in 2021. With a rampant climate crisis and so much at stake for people's jobs and health, simply paying lip service to the need for a just recovery and a low-carbon transition won't cut it," says May Boeve, Executive Director.



During the week, civil society groups organized actions in Nigeria, Brazil, Philippines and France calling on development banks to stop funding fossil fuel projects.

Photos and videos are available HERE.


Landry Ninteretse, Africa Team Leader:

"As concerned citizens of Africa, we are firm that the future the world needs is one that no longer burns fossil fuels for energy generation. It is totally unacceptable that public financial institutions continue to fund fossil fuel projects while millions hardest hit by the climate and pandemic crisis are struggling to get appropriate healthcare, social protection and economic assistance. Development banks need to lead the way and direct public money to a truly healthy, equitable, sustainable and just recovery. That would be a first and solid step towards building real resilience for the people and the planet."

Chuck Baclagon, Asia Finance Campaigner:

"While leaders and power brokers in the financial sector meet, in Asia, we are now just beginning to pick up the pieces left by the strongest storm this year, Super Typhoon Goni, in the middle of a pandemic. Public financial institutions are given the responsibility to chart a future that ensures Asia can thrive justly and sustainably, by shifting the financial flows away from fossil fuels to one that prioritizes access to a low-carbon economy and healthcare. They must commit with a clear timeframe to end support for fossil-fuel projects and ensure that the money goes towards building sustainable, healthy, and resilient societies."

Ilan Zugman, Latin America Interim Managing Director:

"Many Latin American countries are among those that have had proportionally more deaths and greater economic losses because of Covid-19. However, scientists warn that these damages will appear mild when compared to those that the climate crisis may cause, if the planet reaches the worst scenarios of global warming. Latin America's economic recovery only makes sense if it is accompanied by measures to reduce emissions and build climate resilience in our countries, which is why development banks must make comprehensive and urgent commitments to zero their funding for fossil industry projects. Taxpayer money needs to stimulate job creation in sectors that benefit the most vulnerable families, such as clean energy, urban mobility and public health."

Eri Watanabe, Japan Finance Campaigner:

"Prime Minister Suga's recent pledge of "carbon neutrality" in 2050 will be meaningless if Japan's public financial institutions continue to support fossil fuel projects. To slow the warming of the Earth, JICA, JBIC and NEXI should stop funding coal fired power plants in Bangladesh, Indonesia and Vietnam in the name of "international cooperations". They must instead support sustainable sources of energy for the communities in developing countries who suffer the most from the dual crises of COVID-19 and the climate change."

Fenton Lutunatabua, Pacific Managing Director:

"The Pacific is fighting for their homes, and their lives, to turn the tide against climate change. Public development banks globally must join this fight in solidarity by committing to a Just Recovery from COVID-19, and stopping investments in the fossil fuel industry, the greatest source of carbon emissions. There is no time to lose. These institutions must effect policies that will divest from carbon-polluting industries and instead support renewable energy solutions so that all people can continue to thrive."

350 is building a future that's just, prosperous, equitable and safe from the effects of the climate crisis. We're an international movement of ordinary people working to end the age of fossil fuels and build a world of community-led renewable energy for all.