Public development banks must move quickly to create a sustainable future


Public development banks must move quickly

  • News by AUN News correspondent
  • Sunday, October 23, 2022.
  • AUN News – ISSN: 2949-8090


  • A coalition of civil society organisations is urging public development banks (PDBs) to adopt radical and ground-breaking measures to address environmental damage and human rights abuses.

  • The Finance in Common summits offers PDBs a chance to exercise moral leadership and address the lack of sustained partnerships with civil society, communities, and indigenous groups that threaten to stifle development narratives and practises as the demand for responsibility rises.

  • Once more, at this Summit, the leaders of the public development banks will make decisions on crucial issues without consulting those who will be most impacted by their projects and the real development experts: local communities, human rights advocates, Indigenous Peoples, feminist organisations, and civil society.

  • Pooled Finance, a paradigm shift, seems to be a lifeline for CSOs in such an environment of limited funding opportunities, made worse by the health crisis brought on by COVID-19 and the accompanying economic crisis.

  • Despite widespread human rights abuses in the projects it sponsors from Nepal to Kenya, the EIB is also a co-host of the summit.


Public development banks (PDBs) urgently need to undertake radical and ground-breaking solutions in today’s world, when environmental harm and human rights violations are pervasive. The rights of vulnerable populations, the environment, and collective liberty must be prioritised by these banks because they are instrumental in funding numerous projects. The urgent need for PDBs to act and forge a sustainable future for everybody is examined in this article.

PDBs and the Urgent Need for Reform

The COVID-19 epidemic, the climate disaster, human rights abuses, and rising global risks for activists all highlight the urgent need to reform the status quo. While public development banks may have been slow to address overlapping and systemic inequities in the past, civil society organisations are working tirelessly to infuse development with actual affirmative steps for racial, socioeconomic, gender, and climate justice.

Addressing Urgent Needs

PDBs must be successful in meeting the most pressing requirements of everyone. This entails making sure that sustainable food systems are accessible, encouraging a just transition to energy sources that are truly sustainable, and helping to transform economies and financial systems towards sustainability. PDBs can significantly improve the health of communities and the environment by giving priority to these areas.

Acknowledging the Role of Public Services

PDBs must understand that public services are the foundation of just and fair societies rather than advocating privatisation and upholding the austerity narrative. These banks have a duty to make sure that public services are accessible to everybody and are sufficiently supported. They can aid in the creation of just and sustainable communities by doing this.

Human Rights and the Duty of PDBs

Since nine out of ten people live in nations with severely restricted civic freedoms and alarming rates of environmental activism-related murders, it is crucial for development banks to respect and take into account human rights. This responsibility should be embedded in their plans and operations as part of their “do not harm” duty.


1. What are public development banks?

Governments or other public bodies own and control public development banks, which are financial institutions that work to advance both social and economic development. They offer funding for a range of initiatives, including programmes to fight poverty, renewable energy projects, and infrastructure development.

2. Why are civil society organisations urging PDBs to adopt radical measures?

Civil society organisations recognise the urgent need to address environmental damage and human rights abuses. They believe that PDBs have a crucial role to play in creating a sustainable future and are urging these banks to adopt radical and ground-breaking measures to ensure that no funded project compromises the rights of vulnerable populations or the environment.

3. What is the significance of the joint declaration that civil society organisations signed?

The joint declaration, which more than 50 civil society organisations have signed, is of great significance because it represents a unified call for change. It amplifies the voices of these organisations and emphasises the need for PDBs to prioritise democratic principles, community voices, and environmental justice.

4. How can PDBs address the urgent needs of people?

PDBs can address the urgent needs of people by focusing on key areas such as sustainable food systems, supporting a just transition to sustainable energy sources, and facilitating the change of economies and financial systems towards sustainability. By allocating resources and financing projects in these areas, PDBs can contribute to creating a more equitable and sustainable future for all.

5. What is the role of PDBs in promoting fair and just societies?

The role of public development banks (PDBs) in promoting fair and just societies is significant. These banks have the responsibility to ensure that public services are adequately funded and accessible to all. By prioritising the needs of marginalised communities and addressing social and economic inequalities, PDBs can contribute to the development of more equitable and sustainable societies.

PDBs can play a crucial role in promoting fair and just societies by:

  • Investing in social infrastructure: PDBs can offer financial assistance for the construction of social infrastructure, including hospitals, schools, and affordable housing. With this investment, everyone, regardless of socioeconomic level, will have access to basic services.
  • Supporting small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs): PDBs can give SMEs, which are frequently the backbone of local economies, priority when it comes to financing. PDBs can encourage entrepreneurship, job development, and economic empowerment, particularly for marginalised populations, by offering affordable loans and technical help to these enterprises.
  • Promoting equitable and sustainable economic development: PDBs can direct funding towards initiatives that give the creation of jobs, inclusive economic growth, and the eradication of poverty top priority. This includes auxiliary industries like green infrastructure, sustainable agriculture, and renewable energy that not only assist environmental sustainability but also offer job opportunities.
  • Ensuring transparency and accountability: PDBs should conduct themselves in a transparent and accountable manner to guarantee that their financial choices adhere to the ideals of justice and fairness. To prevent any unfavourable effects on marginalised populations, they should set clear norms and standards for project review, environmental impact assessment, and social inclusion.
  • Interacting with stakeholders: To make sure that their financial decisions take into account the needs and ambitions of the people they serve, PDBs should actively interact with local communities, civil society organisations, and other stakeholders. Consultations, open forums, and the participation of the impacted communities in the decision-making process can accomplish this.

PDBs can be effective change agents by adhering to these ideals and making a concerted effort to advance fair and just societies. Their influence and financial resources can be used to solve systemic injustices and strengthen marginalised communities, which will ultimately lead to a more just and sustainable future for everybody.

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